An attempt to declare the Glory of God for what He has chosen to do with our lives. A legacy to leave to my children in the telling of it.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Countdown Begins

The countdown is on ~ only two more days until Goat Watch 2013 officially begins.

Two older does are due next week, with their first potential due date (if I calculated correctly) being Saturday, but most likely happening later on in the week. Three more does are scheduled for the middle to end of the month, and the last three will be a guessing game after that.

If the weather doesn't warm up considerably before then they will be birthing in the old wood-filled basement again -- right next to the 100 chicks that are scheduled for arrival next week and the five baby bunnies that were born this morning . . .

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


And the Lord said to Job:
 “Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty?
He who argues with God, let him answer it.”
Job 40:1-2

One of the kids is plunking out a tune on the piano in the living room. The coffee pot has finished percolating. The dog has already been let out and has come back in again. Controlled chaos reigns at the dining room table amongst English books and Math flashcards.

Upstairs, there is a battle being fought.

The preferred position being from my hiding spot under the three quilts on my bed rather than entering in on the front line which would require getting down on my knees on the old wood floor. To go there means tears. Not a few silent tears sliding down your cheeks, but the full avalanche of heaving, sobbing ones which leave you crumpled in the corner.

The ones that don't let you be fake, don't let you get by with that nice prayer of “thanks God for allowing my son to go to heaven,” but the ones that demand that you acknowledge just who this God is. The ones that end in full surrender, eventually waving a hand in the air as evidence, barely able to whisper, “thank you gracious Heavenly Father that You would actually allow my son, my son Trent, into your presence.”

Again, the reconciliation of who I am: a sinner saved by grace. And who God is: the Maker, the Creator, the Potter, Holy, Perfect, Sustainer, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Wonderful Counselor, Prince of Peace. To acknowledge that I am nobody to quarrel with God as the Israelites did (Isaiah 45: 9-12)

Will I really dare to question God about what He does with His children? Or give Him orders about the work of His own hands? He is, after all, the One who made the earth, and created mankind upon it. With His own hands He stretched out the heavens and marshaled the starry hosts all by Himself. He didn't ask my advice then, and He's not asking it now.

Surrender is where freedom is found.

“When we ask 'why' we are looking for the answer to satisfy – not God.” Out of the mouths of babes. I wrote Alexis' words down on my never-ending list of quotes and verse references on a recycled Youth Rally flyer that was recently tucked into my Bible. I ponder the words again. Why is it so difficult to let God alone be the one who satisfies?

After Job's many trials, and accusations against God, he gets what he claims to want so bad: a visit from the Great I AM. God doesn't coddle him, or apologize for what He has done, or beg Job for forgiveness for the pain he has endured. Rather, God cuts him another blow and puts him in his proper position; on his knees, crumpled in the corner, acknowledging who he is; who God is.

From the book “The Color of the Night”:

“Job has clamored and complained. He has stood tall. God would have him stand taller by bending low.
Job has been wise, but God would make him wiser. Job has underestimated himself, as we all do whenever we bring grievances against God. Pride isn't overestimation. If we know we are God's children, we will think, not less, but more of ourselves and the God who created us.

Before God, we are always in the wrong. Litany is our fitting language. Like Job, we haven't respected the throne. We have toyed with truth and tried to snatch the crown. Our complaints bear witness against us.

It seems cruel that in the midst of so much misery, Job is cut back and further tormented. But he has wanted to play God. He has trespassed; he can't be healed without hurt. Perhaps this is the meaning of God's relentless chastening. The Gardener prunes the branches, sometimes cutting most deeply into his most fruitful tree, that it may bear more fruit.

The words from the whirlwind invite Job to believe, for the Lord discloses himself as he names the mysteries in his world. Faith can't be commanded or coerced; it is elicited by revelation. In seeing the Lord one sees oneself.

The way to feel small is to stand by someone who is tall. In the words of A.B. Davidson from the Book of Job:

The object of the Lord's answer out of the whirlwind is twofold, to rebuke Job and to heal him – to bring home to his heart the blameworthiness of his words and demeanor toward God, and to lift him out of perplexity into peace. The two things hardly differ; at least both are affected by the same means namely by God's causing all his glory to pass before Job.”

                                              ~by Gerhard E. Frost

Surrender reveals the glory of God to be who He is. His ways are not our ways; they are higher than the heavens are from the sky. To look up is the only way that we will see Him.

The oatmeal needs to be cooked, the middle-school readers are ready, and the dentist awaits. I dry my cheeks, attempt a smile, and longingly wait for the coming of my King Jesus.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

How to Add "You Might Also Like" Widget

For quite some time I've noticed under other blogger posts the words, "You might also like" followed by photos and links to other articles in their blogs. Being pretty much internet challenged, it took quite a while before I attempted to figure out how to add the widget to my own blog. I'm happy to share with you that it was easy, painless, and my computer did not blow up in the process.

The simple steps are as follows:

Click on the widget link, here: LinkWithin

You will be redirected to a LinkWithin website that asks you to enter your email address, blog link, platform (Blogger, Wordpress, etc.) and width (I chose 3).

After you've entered the above information click on the big blue box that says "Get Widget!"

The next page will look like this:
Choose your blog from the drop down box and click on the blue box, "Add Widget."
Your Blogger layout page will now open, and you will see an added HTML box (on the right) that says "LinkWithin." 
Save your changes, and go check out your blog with the added addition of "You Might Also Like"

Monday, January 21, 2013

Bare Toes in January

Water balloons in the freezer.
Tea parties in upstairs bedrooms.
Chickens in the basement.
Oodles of stories stored in a laptop computer.
Kisses goodnight.
Kisses goodmorning.
And any odd number of childhood antics in between.
Such is my life.
Besides the never ending laundry pile and the creative energy it constantly requires to make three scrumptious meals a day, three hundred and sixty five days a year, unless it's a leap year, then three hundred and sixty six days a year.
The grief in between is just a constant reminder of the best that is yet to come.
It drives me to my knees begging for salvation,
which is found in Jesus Christ alone,
on behalf of those I love.
A body that keeps going through the motions.
A mind that feels like it can't take in one more single concept.
And a soul longing for restoration and righteousness.
Bare toes in January.
Two minute boy showers.
Orthodontics times three.
Tears in the morning.
Tears at night.
A Savior leading.

To Wrestle Like Jacob

Six below is the predicted high for the day here in Wisconsin. Which means that, at least twice a day, we get to bundle up and brave the elements to care for our menagerie of critters. Enduring a nearly eighty degree difference in temperature, and a frozen water spicket, all for the sake of having some home grown beef in our freezer. The thought of a little corner lot in town with a plastic goldfish floating in a bowl has become appealing and common dinner conversation as of late. Or at least goat farming in the Bahamas. There must be a need for handmade soaps and milking Nubian does somewhere in the Atlantic region.

To pass the time of these cold days we work on home school: adverbs and adjectives, transitive and intransitive verbs, algebra and phonics. Character and self-control are highest on our list of curriculum in four young souls (not to mention my own), and seems to be the subject that constantly demands the most attention. Two teenagers and two middle schoolers in one old farmhouse in January makes for many opportunities of growth, and throw in there the dog that constantly needs in and out, in and out, always just as you've settled nicely into the recliner. Each with our own weaknesses, as iron sharpens iron, we go on .....

Winter is also a time for quilting. Somehow, I have gotten four baby boy quilts behind in my gift giving this past year. Three tops are ready to be stretched and sewed together, with more quilt patterns running through my brain than I could attempt to sew all year long. It's been nearly two years since I could even think of quilting. I'm not sure if that's the first glimpse of the healing they say comes eventually in grief. If it is I think that's why I resist it so; I never want to be healed of missing my son and thinking this is normal. So I sew between the tears.

And cry over hatching chicks. Chicks that haven't hatched in an incubator in my dining room for nearly those same two years. The pipping hole found me crumpled on the cherry laminate next to the table while the house was quiet and the sun hadn't peeked out yet. Crying as I longed for feather legged chickens like the one's we picked up a week before the accident. Crying because there might not be feathered legs, crying because I'm tired of waiting for eternity to begin.

As I often do when I need solid encouragement of Scripture, I searched for the Desiring God blog, and found Jon Bloom's post on Jacob's time of wrestling with God to be so applicable.

"And what changed him from fearing man to trusting God’s word was prolonged and painful wrestling with God. Sometimes, in your battle with unbelief, your greatest Ally will wrestle you — he might even make you limp — until you’re desperate ... "

I have felt like Jacob lately, battling so hard and then struck where I am most vulnerable. Struck by rejection. Struck by pride. Struck by sick goats. Struck by grief, every morning being greeted with the fresh reality that my son is not here. Struck by complacency, and apathy, and the mind boggling, numbing, stuffing inability to discern what really matters. Struck where it hurts the most, because where it hurts the most is where I need to be sanctified the most.

There is so much of "me" left. The pain reveals where Christ is not yet ruling. Where I still expect something else to satisfy. Where I still refuse for Jesus to be enough.

After I've cried the tears, and realized the beauty of the battle is that the end result will eventually produce a harvest of righteousness and peace (Hebrews 12:11), I raise my hands in defeat. I can no longer struggle as Jacob did and demand more from God. My strength has been drained from the energy it has taken to resist Him thus far.

Instead, I accept the blessing that has already been given: the blessing of suffering.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

West Bow Press versus CreateSpace

A while back I was asked by a blog friend about my thoughts on self publishing, so thought I'd post my response for others who may be curious. It has been just over a year since my book, How My Savior Leads Me, was first published. We chose to use WestBow Press for our first publisher, but after much frustration and over all disappointment, we soon decided to make another investment and have the book reprinted with CreateSpace.

It is a big book world out there, and it would be easy to get ate up in it! Before self publishing I did quite a bit of research and looked into different venues for printing my book. I researched literary agents and big house publishers, but soon realized that I knew I wasn't emotionally strong enough to handle the rigorous process of submissions and rejections. I did submit to one agency, and sent books to the big publishers, but only received a few form letters saying they were not accepting new projects or no reply at all.

Since I was confident that writing and sharing Trent's story was of God, and many doors appeared to be opening in that direction, we went ahead with self publishing.

Our first edition was printed with WestBow Press. I don't have alot of good things to say about WestBow. My gripes: you feel like just a number and soon find that you are treated as such. I bought into their advertising that you could be the next big author and picked up by Thomas Nelson, and also thought (due to their advertisiements) that they would be very helpful in promoting my Christian view. In the end, I found very little personal help as a newbie author, and soon became very frustrated by the lack of communication as well as the cost of every service that seemed should have been covered in the package price.

I purchased their Pro Format package, which included amongst other things, Interior Book Design and Page Layout, plus Standard Cover Design Including Personalized Back Cover. The promises soon became tarnished when I learned that my options were limited to 1-3 choices and then a fee of $150+ was added to change anything (fonts, etc.). Which meant that I could submit an idea (choice 1) for the cover and they would come up with their own design (choice 2), if there was a font or color change requested to either of those designs that would be choice three. At that point you would be required to pay the additional fee to see any other options. The same for interior fonts, details, designs. Even to request changing the size of the book required an additional fee.

I also had several problems with getting the book printed on the correct color of paper (more than 500 books in multiple orders were printed on the wrong color), and wasn't all that impressed with the final printing quality.

My book representative was very quick to reply to both phone calls and emails, but the communication was very poor between him and the team that actually did the work on my book. Soon, there was a turn over in personnel and my file seemed to be laid by the curbside with no personal contact representative.

After several months I ended up with a book that I really didn't like, was very disappointed in their cover options and art work and would be unable to financially consider any changes, besides looking at $700+ more to correct new-found typo's (after already investing over $2,000 initially with them, besides out-sourced editor fees).

Maybe my expectations were too high: I expected that we would work together to create a quality book, but found that they mostly turned out to just be a very expensive printer.

Which all led us to choose CreateSpace to reprint the book only three months later.

What I liked about CreateSpace:

(If Blogger would let me upload images I would attempt to place a photo of the book cover and interior here, but since it won't, you'll have to check out the Amazon page to see an example- and while you're there, if you want to leave a review or a "like" Amazon appreciates that, and so do I:))

They were half the price of WestBow for a better quality book. I could have attempted to format the whole book myself, but I knew that I wasn't capable, nor did I want to try. For $900 I purchased their interior and cover formatting option and they did all the work. They were much more flexible with actually designing a book that I liked, instead of giving me a couple of options and then charging to change anything.

Example: For the cover design I filled out a questionnaire, they designed two mock up covers,
and then allowed me to choose one to start creating with. If you don't like either option, they redesign, or allow the choice of making changes to color, font, etc., until the author is happy with the result. The interior also received royal treatment and design work continued until it met my satisfaction, with no further charges.

With CreateSpace they worked with me until I actually liked the book. Their design team was fabulous, they replied and worked very fast, and the quality and printing of the book was so much better. The option of fonts and layout was superior to WestBow, and the design team was particular to attention and seemed to want to meet your desired expectations. Printing with WestBow took about six months, and with CreateSpace about four months to publish the books.

Actual book printing cost with CreateSpace is also half price: about $3.50 per book compared to about $6.50 with WestBow, which means higher author royalties with CreateSpace, or the ability to charge less for the book. Both companies offered similar options as far as ISBN numbers, availability of additional services (marketing, editors, etc.), retaining author rights, and distribution.

If you are computer savvy, and are willing to do the research and work yourself, you can format and design your entire book for no cost at all with CreateSpace and only pay for the cost of printing the books. I have done this for a little booklet that we had printed for some fishing scholarships in honor of Trent in our community, as well as a children's book that Alexis wrote.

One consideration with CreateSpaces' Self Publishing is that you have no publisher to list. One option is that you can open your own publishing enterprise (you'd have to check into local legal requirements). We chose to print under the name of More Glory Ministries for our CreateSpace books. We applied for a non-profit status for all of the donations after Trent's death and have committed to using all book proceeds and funds as well for sharing the gospel. Having the More Glory Ministries name on the book directs people back to our blog where the books are advertised as well as Trent's story and the gospel is shared.

So how is the book doing?

After being available for fourteen months between the two publishers, we have distributed over 1,000 books. Nearly two-thirds of those have been given away as gifts. God has continued to provide the resources through book sales and donations to make it possible to share the gospel and the hope of eternity with many hurting souls.Nearly weekly we receive emails or notes about how God is using Trent's story for His glory.

For our family, personally, the book is a huge comfort and encouragement as well on those days when we can't quite see past the pain of missing a son. I can't recall how many times I have been convicted by my own words, or had my eyes turned back to the cross through it - so even if it never makes the best seller list, that is enough of a reason to have wrote it.

So... there's my ramblings about self publishing. If there are any other specific questions I can answer, let me know.


For cover work, I would highly recommend Design Crowd
who did an awesome job to create the books final cover.

Monday, January 14, 2013


Blogger is being a bugger. For some reason they won't let me upload any new pictures today, so I had to dig through the archives and use some old photos. I've read that others are having troubles recently, too.
Anybody have any advice???

Kidding season is fast approaching. In about two weeks we will officially be on "goat watch." Doing routine checks of back ends and udders and ligaments until it drives the girls and us crazy. My favorite time of the farming year: baby season. The delivery of goat kids ushers in milking time, which also means we get to look forward to raising bottle calves from all that rich milk. Jacob (on the left) is our main herd sire this year. He comes from Brenda's farm in Missouri.
Dreaming about lots more colorful kids like last February, except hoping for a girl year this time around. The little guy on the left is our second herd sire this year. Any locals looking for purebred Nubian goats let me know! 
Having all that good goats milk also means more soap making. This crazy soap dream has exploded into an obsession and a small income to help keep the farm running. There are a couple of soap making classes scheduled in the next two months, plus craft fairs and expo's to prepare for, but no milk in my freezer. I've been adding to my wish list of scents, colors and designs plus am excited to try out some new soap recipes~ now I just need some milk. And talking about soap, this was a sweet encouragement: Backyard Farming Guide.

In other farms news: we are anxiously waiting for chicks to hatch, both from the incubator and from Cole's Silkie hens who have decided that the middle of January would be a great time to set on some eggs. There are also 150 little pullet peepers on their way from the hatchery for resale this spring. Baby season is almost upon us~ I can't wait!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Reading Between the Lines

An hour and a half in bed, refusing to be real. Too lazy to get my bum down on my knees to bow before my Creator, and instead settling for prayers full of apathy. Tears cried into my coffee cup until it is too cold to drink. Repentance and the first two chapters of Hebrews later, plus several cross references, before the peace settles.

Jesus, the One I have never seen with my eyes yet my soul has never not known, the radiance of God's glory, the Maker of the heavens. The Savior, who was made a little lower than the angels for a time until He would be crowned with glory and everything would be put under his feet, was perfected by suffering under the hand of his Father, that He might become the perfect atonement for sinful man.

I am not good at enduring. Perseverance does not thrill me. Running, controlling, knowing now, hurry up would be better. Scripture puts my unspoken, scattered, and pain-filled emotions into perspective.

Because He himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” Hebrews 2:18

The overflowing of honesty spills out when I read between the lines: I suffer when I am tempted to be held in bondage by others' approval and allow them control over me, rather than walking in God's ways. The cords of that bondage are strong in a current situation. Chokingly strong. Maybe they choke because they reveal my hard heart; maybe it's not choking but gagging over sin that I don't want revealed. Or maybe it is a blaring warning sign that I can't clearly decipher through the masquerading words of truth.

Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess.” Hebrews 3:1

My eyes have not been fixed on Jesus lately in this situation, I have instead let them stray. I have chosen to wallow in the pain of the seen, rather than looking to the High Priest whom I confess.

{Jesus} was faithful to the one who appointed him.” Hebrews 3:2a

What did Jesus do in His suffering? He was faithful to the Father, the very one who found it fitting to allow His suffering. For the greater glory, for the joy of being seated at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven, for the throne that would be ruled with a scepter of righteousness and could only be conquered through the death of a perfect sacrifice, to ransom His own, to glorify His Father, He focused his eyes on eternity.

I will put my trust in Him.” Hebrews 2:13b/Isaiah 8:17

Jesus put His trust in God. What a simple concept. To merely trust Jesus until I see Him face to face. To endure what He calls me to endure. To do it willingly as I attempt to train my heart to do the same and look forward to that glory. To fall on grace alone, accepting the proficiency of the solitary power of the Holy Spirit, and continuing to disregard any of my attempts of accomplishing His finished work of salvation on my own. To praise God for failure, so that mercy can be realized.

A Returning

Words have returned, what a refreshing welcome to lay down the consuming thoughts that insist on swirling in my brain, to give them a place to reside and rest, to relieve my heart from carrying them. The camera has hardly been thought of lately, maybe God will choose to restore that soon, too.
I have discovered recently that as hard as enduring the physical separation of grief is, the unknowing of heaven itself is almost as difficult.

“Where are you, Trent?” The first words whispered while I stood next to that emergency room bed nearly two years ago. The joke between my son and I for months prior to the accident. The thoughts that won't be settled in my mind until I see paradise firsthand.

Heaven, where the glory of God is seen in its full. Where we will be welcomed onto the throne with Jesus himself. Where every tear, and every sin, will be wiped away. Where multitudes of angels dwell. Where Paul saw the inexpressible things that man is not permitted to tell. Where martyrs under the alter are crying out, “How long, Oh Lord?” The same plea I cry every morning.

The slow insanity of grief comes in the everyday trickling of “normal.” Trying to make this world the normal when Scripture says it is the temporary. Hebrews 2:14-15 tells us that Jesus shared in our humanity, the children of flesh and blood, so that by His death the power of death- that is, the devil- would be destroyed. He freed His children from the very fear of death; a fear that holds us in slavery.

To think, this very day, that my son is before this Savior while I am consumed by living here. The mortgage has to be paid, there are three meals to plan and prepare again, farm chores to be attended to, little people to love, all while so much pain and suffering is evident all around me, lost souls are everywhere, eternities are looming.

The Gift

After Trent's accident, we chose for him to become an organ donor. Recovering what they could, the doctors would attempt to use the opportunity to restore somebody else's broken body. I have been crying for days after receiving the news of the reality of what this gift meant: sight was restored to two individuals whom we will probably never know this side of heaven. Our son's corneas, which once saw the beauty of his world, now see for others. The radio is blaring, "No more sorrows, no more tears." I am ready and waiting for That Day.

The story is here.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

When Hope Survives

Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect,
that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus,
with eternal glory.
2 Timothy 2:10

I wonder, if we had one taste, one glimpse, one second of that eternal glory, how would we live differently? I wondered, too, when I read that verse this morning if Paul ever endured the heart-wrenching pain of grief for the sake of the gospel. It's easy to lump grief into the "everything" category of that one sentence; living it is harder.

To "endure everything for the sake of the elect." Trying desperately to grasp the depth of that statement, and find hope in it, I realized that suffering becomes sweeter when I remember that now John has an eternal glory to look forward to because God opened his eyes and has allowed him to lead his family towards Christ; how Anne and Traci's kids have mothers who have become mightier prayer warriors on behalf of their children's souls; how Sue, and Gwen and countless other mothers have found comfort and a refreshing of God's promises through our brokenness.

It's ironic, I guess, as even hope has been so hard to come by lately that I would be working on a devotional book called "When Hope Survives." God seems to be stripping me bare, so only hope in Him survives, then and only then, will I truly have something to say. There is so much of "me" left that needs to be removed. But I hold God at arms length- tired of the hurt, the tears, the pain of revealing.

Martin Luther's commentary on Romans 8:26 cut deep. "The Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered."

"These are prayers which no man can describe by words, and which no one can understand except God alone. The groanings are so great that only God can rightly regard and appreciate them: as we read in Psalm 38:9: "All my desire is before thee; and my groaning is not hid from thee." It is not an evil sign, but indeed the very best, if upon our petitions the very opposite happens to us. Conversely, it is not a good sign if everything is granted to us for which we pray.

The reason for this is the following: God's counsel and will tower high above our own counsel and will, as we read in Isaiah 55:8-9, "My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my thoughts higher than your thoughts." Hence, when we ask anything of God and He begins to hear us, He so often goes counter to our petitions that we imagine He is more angry with us now than before we prayed, and that He intends not to grant us our requests at all. All this God does, because it is His way to first destroy and annihilate what is in us - (our own wisdom and will) - before He gives us His gifts; for so we read in 1 Samuel 2:6: "The Lord killeth, and maketh alive; He bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up." Through this most gracious counsel He makes us fit for His gifts and works. Only then are we qualified for His works and counsels when our own plans have been demolished and our own works are destroyed and we have become purely passive in our relation to Him.

The proud (unbelievers) desire to be like God. They want to place their thoughts not under God, but next to His, just as though they were perfect (as God is). But that is much less possible than for the clay to tell the potter into what shape he should form it. So we read in Isaiah 64:8: "O Lord,Thou art our Father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand." But those who have the Holy Spirit do not despair but have faith when they see that the very opposite of what they asked for happens to them. The work of God must remain hidden in any other form than that which contradicts our thinking and understanding. Thus God permitted St. Augustine to fall deeper and deeper into error, despite the prayers of his mother, in order to grant her much more in the end than she had asked. This He does with all His saints." (Commentary on Romans, Martin Luther, translated by J. Theodore Mueller, Pg. 126-127)
I sit here and cry my river of tears another morning. But finally, this morning, they come from a deeper place. A place where they are not the overflow from the high barricade that I have built around my wounded soul, but where they pour out from the demolishing of falsehood which means that God has broken through. The tears are the beginning of true hope, true endurance, and true trust in God.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him,
 so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13