Category Archives: Thankful

101Reasons I Love My Husband

There is nothing quite as romantic as spending  a portion  of your weekend taking apart and deep cleaning your kitchen with your husband.   A little goofy sounding, I know, but it was a lot of fun and yet another reason I love my husband.

While pulling out the stove and giving everything a good scrubbing,  we laughed as we shared the antics of our little children and their adventures over the week.

While cleaning out and disinfecting the fridge, we marveled that seemingly out of nowhere our oldest daughter’s upcoming graduation from high school has snuck up on us.

While cleaning out and reorganizing the kitchen cabinets, we put great thought into plans for our upcoming 20th anniversary and enjoying the honeymoon we never had.

There were sly looks and grins while scrubbing the vent hood and degreasing underneath it.

There was a little pinch on the tush here and little pinch there while whitening the porcelain sink.

There were jokes and hilarious comments zinging that had us laughing so hard we were leaning on the counters to keep from falling over.
All of this and more while deep cleaning the kitchen!

My favorite moments come in our every day life enjoying the husband that God has blessed me with and the children that He has given us to raise.

Awesomeness.

All for God’s glory,

~Rhen

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101 Reasons I Love My Husband

I love adding to my 101 Reasons I Love My Husband posts.

Each time I go back and read my previous posts, I am reminded of just how blessed I am.

Today’s blessing:  God has given my strong, sweet man the ability to know when I need a hug.

I don’t mean one of those quick squeezes.  I am talking about one of those long, tight hugs that makes the rest of the world and it’s troubles fade away. The kind where you disappear into his chest and feel safe.

There are times when I am feeling beaten down by my day or times when I am a little overwhelmed, and he will stop everything we are working on and grab hold of me.  In that hug God speaks to me and I feel loved and safe and re-energized.  I can once again take on the world.

Have you hugged your sweetie today?

All for God’s glory,

~Rhen

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Feeling Like Home

When you move into a new house there are things you can do to make it feel like home.  Some of my favorites are:  hanging family pictures on the walls, organizing my closet, setting up the classroom (aka dining room) , and getting the kitchen up and running.

We don’t just set up a home; we set up a homestead.  That means that there are a few more I would like to include on my list:  building the chicken house, preparing and planting gardens, and fencing in the goat pens are some of them.  This weekend Mark and his helpers, the kids, finished putting up the one item that I consider  absolutely necessary to making a house a home and some land a homestead:  the clothesline!

Cleaning up the last bit of gravel and planting some grass seed will finish off the area the clothesline is in.

Hello significant savings on the power bill and lovely air-dried clothing!

Now, let me walk you around to a few other spots on our homestead that have helped to settle us in!

Let’s start with some of the gardens.  Seeing new squash appearing daily is fabulous!!  I can already taste the zucchini brownies.  Mmmm!

Squash Striata d’Italia from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

The tomato plants have really taken off over the past two weeks, and I am finding bunches of new blooms all promising juicy tomatoes!

I am ecstatic about our tomatoes and completely frustrated with the cucumbers. I have to replant cucumbers thanks to the squirrels!

My favorite morning chore is feeding the ducks and the chickens.  They know my voice and make quite a racket in anticipation of breakfast.

Ninja is on the left and Cheese is on the right.

Our beautiful boy, Ferdinand.

They are always curious to see if I brought them a treat.

My homesteading heart is happy to see sheets out drying in the sun, but here is much more work to do around our little homestead.

Up next on my list:  finish fencing in the goat pen.

Do you have a clothesline?

What are some of the things that helps make a new house feel like home to you?

All for God’s glory,

~Rhen

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Sometimes the world really does stop.

It is time for an update on the happenings around our little homestead.  From the heart-stopping to the every day comings and goings of a family of ten, we have it all!  *grin*

Let’s start with heart-stopping, shall we?

Our family, which rarely gets sick, was struck down by the crud.  You know the crud.  That nasty stuff where sinus drainage likes to try to stick in your chest, it gives you that tickle spot in your throat, and you walk around hacking like a 90-year-old man with emphysema.

While most of us responded well to our tried-and-true home remedies, one of us did not.

When I arrived home from Emily Grace’s practice Thursday evening, I found that Hannah (10) was sleeping the entire time I was gone.  By the time she made it up the stairs she was out of breath, and 5 minutes later, she still couldn’t catch her breath.

Daddy carried her to the car, and we headed to the emergency room.  Apparently, in the two days after her doctor appointment, something went very wrong.  That “wrong” brought about an ambulance ride and an almost 4 day stay at Children’s Hospital in Birmingham.

The official diagnosis:  atypical pneumonia.  Sometimes the world really does stop, and my world did just that.  I am so grateful for family (Granny and Cousin A) who came and kept our household running while I stayed at the hospital with Hannah.  Daddy did double duty between taking care of the rest of the children and spending time with Hannah.

It is a horrible feeling being completely helpless to make your child well again.  Every little noise and movement has you wide awake and watching them carefully.  The first night, or what was left of it, I slept sitting in a chair next to her bed with my head resting next to her feet.  I may have totaled 2 hours of sleep in the first 36 hours.

I know that in the grand scheme of things I have little to no control in what happens in life, but it is going through things like this that make it all to in-your-face apparent.

I am thankful to you all for your prayers and uplifting thoughts, and I am most grateful to God for answering those prayers.

Hannah has been home for a few days now and improving by leaps and bounds.  The crud is leaving our family, and we are all FINALLY getting back to our own version of normal.  *grin*

On the homestead front, our chickens have finally made the move to the chicken house!  It was perfect timing.  The temperatures have dropped and we have had some seriously dangerous storms come through over the past week.  They are much safer and warmer in the chicken house as opposed to the brooder box.

Today, I put an entire bale of fresh hay in the chicken house and one in the run.  We learned some time ago that chickens are spectacular at creating healthy compost.  We fill our chicken run with appropriate kitchen scraps, leaves, some grains, and hay, and our chickens will scratch, peck, eat, digest, and finally poop all in the run.  We keep adding fresh “ingredients”, and they keep composting it all.  Every couple of months we clean it all out, add it to the gardens, and start over.

Today is also the day I have started on my great grain sprouting experiment for the chickens.  Here is the original pin: http://pinterest.com/pin/102527328988722130/

I am taking pictures and keeping notes!

Next, I have to prepare a piece of charcoal to put in there.

Here is that pin:  http://pinterest.com/pin/102527328988620262/

I have just a couple of details to finish on the chicken house and I will finally get to share it with you.  Why yes, I have been taking a whole lotta pictures!

I will have to tell you about my garden progress later, or this post will be far too long!

God bless!

~Rhen

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Would the real landlord please stand up?

For anyone who does not know the story, or for those of you who have been waiting far too long for my slow self to finish this two-part series, let’s recap the other half of this post!

  • After a year and half of searching, we finally found a house to rent long-term while we save up.
  • The house has enough bedrooms to fit us comfortably, property for a homestead, and is located in just the right area.
  • We scheduled an appointment, looked at the house, and loved it.
  • We signed a lease and paid the deposit and first month’s rent.
  • Two days before we were supposed to move in, I received a phone call from the real homeowners.

Yes, I said REAL HOMEOWNERS.

A last minute phone call to the previous tenants, whom we are blessed to know, is what started everything spilling out a mere two days before we were scheduled to move in.

Immediately after hanging up with the real homeowners, I was on the phone with my bank canceling those checks!  It wasn’t even half an hour before the first check had arrived into hands of the person who was trying to scam our family out of almost every penny we had in the bank!  God is so good!  My heart absolutely pounds at the thought of that check arriving any earlier.

How do I know the timing?  The person who was trying to steal from us actually had the gall to call me and tell me the check was in their hand.   When confronted by myself and the true homeowners, the scammer tried to make it all look like an accident and kept clinging to the story that they really wanted to buy this house and rent it out.  I guess that fact that the homeowners didn’t want to sell it to them never mattered.  Oy!

So, we have our money back and all is good.  Right?  Nope.

The new problem facing us then was that we had given notice to our landlords at our previous house and only had 9 days left before we had to vacate.

Well, the new house is available.  Right?  Nope.

The homeowners had already verbally agreed to rent it to another family.

This left us with nine days to do what we had spent a year and a half trying to do, find a house for our large family.   This is the point where I would be tempted to insert panic, anger, and worry, but not this time.  God gave me a calm and assured spirit, and I absolutely knew in my heart that God was going to take what the enemy intended for evil and turn it for our good.  Even Mark was surprised by how calm and sure I was.  That, my friends, is the hand of God and nothing else.

Within two days we received word from the homeowners letting us know that they had personally driven to the couple’s house to whom they had a verbal contract with and explained, in detail, what had happened to our family.

That family released our new landlords from the verbal agreement in order to let us have the house.  Woo hoo!

We were able to move into the new house by our vacate date, and we also had time to clean, touch-up paint, and get our old house move-in ready to bless our old landlords who had been so wonderful to our family for almost 2 1/2 years!

God gave me yet another example of how perfect His timing is!

There is no way I could possibly end this post without taking a moment to send out a ginormous THANK YOU to each and every one of you who spent time in prayer over our family.  You are amazing and I am truly thankful!  May God bless you ten times over!!

All for His glory,

~Rhen

Thankful, For He Gives Me Such Freedom!

I have heard faith in God described as confining and binding, but, in my relationship with God, He doesn’t hold me back or keep me down.  He gives me such freedom!

God sets me free from…

…the bondage of sin.   Though I sin, I know that not only will He forgive me and wash away those sins, but He will also help me to walk away from temptations to sin again.

…the weight of worry.  Things are crazy in the world.  Watching the news, reading the articles:  they can easily get me focused on worrying, but God sets me free from that.  All I have to do is trust in Him, and He has NEVER let me down.

…the weight of other peoples’ opinions.  I have turned everything in my life over to God.  It is through His word and His guidance that I make the choices that I do, and those choices are because I am following Him.  As long as I continue to focus on God, He will never take His eyes off of me!  I don’t have to let the negative opinions of others drag me down!

God gives me the freedom to…

…be exactly who He intentionally and lovingly created me to be.  Every day He teaches me and helps me to learn and understand more about who I am and what I can do through Him.

…grow and learn through love and service, just as He has demonstrated. Through the daily blessings He provides, the people He brings into my life, the situations that are set before me, and the challenges that come my way, I step out of my comfort zone to do more than just talk about who God is.

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There are so many more freedoms that God has blessed me with that I could share with you, but I want to hear yours.  What would you add?  What has God freed you from?   What has God given you the freedom to do or to be?

I am ever so thankful for the freedom God gives me to be a child of the King!

God bless,

~Rhen

But Before That

Today, September 11th, is a date that holds a somber meaning for us all, but before that it was a date that held, and continues to hold, a very special meaning for our family.  The year before the attacks on this country, God blessed our family with our third child, Emily Grace.

Her birth was one of my harder ones, not her actually delivery, but the months leading up to it.  Our first child was born via c-section and our second was a natural VBAC.  By the time Emily Grace was due to be born, the hospitals had turned a 180 on supporting VBAC’s and were attempting to force pregnant women to have a c-section if a child had previously been born via c-section.  I refused to allow a c-section after a successful VBAC, and I had the support of my doctor in my decision.  It took a little planning and great timing, but we had our second natural VBAC.  *this is where I do my touchdown dance*

18 month old little brothers are essential for proper cake cutting!

For the first several years after the 9/11 attacks, I felt guilty celebrating EG’s birthday.  It didn’t seem right to celebrate when so many people were reliving a day that forever changed their families.

Over time we have learned to balance this difficult day.  We gather together, as a family, and pray for each and every person who lost someone on that day.  We pray for our country.  We pray for those who survived.  We remember.   Then, we turn our focus to being thankful for and celebrating the addition of Emily Grace to our family.

This year, we gathered together family and friends this past weekend to grill out burgers, devour cake and ice cream, play games, and enjoy the fellowship of those we chose to share EG’s day with.

One of the huge hits of the day were the balloon piñatas, thank you, Pinterest.  We stuffed large balloons with bead necklaces, bracelets, candy, a couple of small prizes, and confetti.  Everyone chose which balloon they wanted to pop, and they kept the items that came flying out.  The confetti was great!  Every time a balloon popped, the confetti just exploded!  I will never use a regular piñata again.

Our SuSu winding up for the big smack!

….aaaaannnnndddddd POP!

All ages loved smacking the balloons.  *grin*

EG’s friend, M, at moment of ballon explosion. Can you see everything flying?

You know Emily Grace’s favorite part was opening the gifts.

Daddy and I surprised her with a new bike. The girl looked like she was riding a clown bike when she rode her old one! My, how they grow!

There was one gift in particular I enjoyed seeing her “open”.  I made a jewelry display frame that matches the name sign I made her last year.  It came out better than I expected, and she is crazy about it.  Score!

A close up shot.

Not only are we celebrating EG’s 12th birthday, we are also celebrating my grandfather’s birthday.  Happy birthday and many, many more Emily Grace and Papa.  We love you both!

God bless,

~Rhen