And then there were five…

  
I’m feeling a little sad today.  My sweet Charlotte (above) is no longer with us.  And it is my fault. 😦 I’ve been down sick with a bad cold, along with most of the rest of the household, and wasn’t thinking clearly, I suppose, and I forgot to go out and lock the girls in for the night last night.  Jeff arrived home after a long day out around dark and wasn’t really thinking about chickens either.  

In the middle of the night, it suddenly came to me that I had forgotten them.  I wasn’t concerned that they had run off – chickens are home-bodies, and just naturally return to their coop at nightfall each evening.  I wasn’t even concerned about the fact that my forgetting about them meant I hadn’t fed them for the night – they had been out foraging the yard all day yesterday and were okay to make it until morning without feed.

No, what struck a note of fear in my heart was the fact that they were out in their pen, completely unprotected, since the gate to the pen was never shut and locked up for the night – leaving the girls veritable “sitting ducks” or literally “sitting chickens”.

  
I woke Jeff up and had him keep watch from the porch (in case a crazy night creature tried to attack me), and headed out to the pen, cellphone flashlight in hand, with trepidation about what I was going to find.  Sure enough, the gate to the pen was wide open, just as I had left it earlier in the day when I let the girls out for the day.  I started counting chickens…one…two…three…four…five…I counted again…one, two, three, four, five. I shone the light all around the pen.  I noticed the waterer was knocked over, a red flag since it’s very sturdy and too heavy for the girls to knock over themselves. And then I saw the feathers, black and white striped feathers strewn around the cage – more than the usual strays that adorn the coop daily. 

They belonged to Charlotte, one of my favorites.   My heart sank.  She was our last remaining Plymouth Barred Rock chicken, my favorite breed – I’ve always loved her ruffley, black and white stripes paired with her striking red comb – such a beauty!  Her sister, Nimrod (don’t ask), had died last month after becoming ill, so I really didn’t want to lose Charlotte too!

  
I looked around to make sure she wasn’t anywhere in the cage, but she was gone, carried away by some creature of the night – a raccoon, owl, bobcat?  I checked on the rest of the girls, who were sitting quietly, three huddled together on top of the old rabbit hutch where they sleep each night, and two roosting in the nesting boxes inside the hutch. I told them I was so sorry for forgetting them… for failing to protect them…for allowing their secure home to be invaded. With a heavy heart, I closed the gate, latched it, and headed back to the house, reporting the sad news to Jeff, waiting on the porch. 

We’ve had our chickens for almost 3 years now, and it amazes me that the one time that I forgot to lock them in, a predator was ready and waiting to seize the opportunity. I thought about these night creatures, and how they survive and feed their little ones by being aware and diligent. I imagined a contented little family of wild ones being blessed by my mistake. It is God’s way of caring for his creation,  and it is a good thing, for now, until the day He puts everything to rights and the “lion lays down with the lamb”. 

  
One thing having chickens has taught me is to hold them loosely, because their lives are fragile, and can be gone quickly. It’s part of owning chickens, and I accept that.  It also is a reminder to me that God holds all of us in the palm of His hand – our every breath is ordained by Him, and is in His control. There is blessing in appreciating all of life around us and thanking Him for it!  

I will miss seeing my pretty Charlotte scratching around the yard with the other girls, but will thank the Lord that I was able to enjoy her for the time I had her. And with spring just around the corner, I’m thinking that maybe some new baby chicks might be in our “tomorrow” – definitely some Plymouth Barred Rocks!  

 
Blessings,

Nancy

 

Advertisements

Happy Valentine’s Day!

100_7315

I hope your Valentine’s Day has been wonderful today! We enjoyed pizza and chocolate covered strawberries for dinner tonight. Jeff surprised me with a bouquet of balloons, beautiful flowers, a box of chocolates, and a gift card to my favorite Primitives shop. ❤ We handed out chocolates and small gifts to the children and then spent the evening watching the Olympics.

1st John is one of my favorite books of the Bible pertaining to love, and especially these two verses –

“In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent His only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him.”

“In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

– 1 John 4: 9-10

Feeling especially blessed tonight by my Father’s love and my family’s love. I pray that you are as well.

Be back soon with that casserole recipe I promised you 🙂

Blessings,
Nancy

Porch Weather in July??

IMG_3196

I can hardly believe it, but I am actually spending this afternoon camped out in my rocker on the front porch – AT THE END OF JULY!!! This is unheard of here in Texas, where July usually means 100 degree temperatures. The temperature right now is in the upper 80’s, but there is a cool northern breeze blowing and the porch is nice and shady, and it is completely and beautifully comfortable here. There are dishes and laundry to be done in the house, but they are just going to have to wait – this weather is simply too wonderful to waste!

Sometimes it is just what is needed to relax, rest, and reflect. That is what I have been doing this afternoon. I do some of my best reflecting on my front porch, surrounded by the trees, and the beauty of nature. I was reading about Elijah in the book of 1 Kings, and came to the part where he was nourished and given rest by the Lord. God cared so tenderly for him and gave him a break to rejuvenate him. What a blessing to be reminded that these rest times are so important in our life!

IMG_3194

This day began with a bonfire in our side yard! One of our piles of dead and discarded tree branches (we have 2 of these) had gotten so tall that it needed to be taken care of, so our neighbor came over and helped Jeff prepare and burn it. It was our first time to burn a pile, so it was really nice to have our neighbor’s help and know-how. The wood was so dry that it didn’t take long to burn down to a big pile of ash. It is still smoldering now, and will be throughout the weekend. We tried to roast some marshmallows earlier, but we couldn’t get close enough to cook them due to the heat being put off by the pile! We’re going to try again later this evening and see if we can make some S’Mores.

IMG_1535

I took some pictures today of the little ladies also, so I will try to get a chicken update posted soon. They’re not little babies anymore – they’re almost to laying age! I am so much enjoying having them! They are living in a pen under the trees by the pond, but soon we will be letting them out during the daytime hours to free range the entire property. Here’s a sneak peek picture of the girls ~

IMG_3218

Have a wonderful evening, and I’ll be back with you again soon!

Blessings,
Nancy

A Lovely Day

IMG_2354

Today was a lovely day. January – but the temperature was in the 70’s and did I ever get Spring Fever! I spent most of the afternoon outside planning my gardens for this year. I also washed off the porch rockers and spent some time there thinking and enjoying the weather. The kids kept busy playing four-square, basketball, and exploring by the pond. Michael got out my Dad’s old tackle box and tried to get his fishing pole lined up.

I had mixed up some Taco Soup in the crock-pot earlier in the day, so all I needed to do for dinner was pop some cornbread in the oven, which gave me even more time to enjoy the outdoors. Sarah baked some Brownie Pops, so dessert was covered, too.

As the sun started to set this evening, the sky was very beautiful, all striped in blue and pink. The moon came out and was lit up with a lovely bright white light. It was a serendipity day – a blessing that I didn’t expect. The kind that makes my heart sing and my soul praise the Lord.

“The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims His handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words,
whose voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.”
-Psalm 19:1-4

I’m so thankful for this lovely day – a nice break from winter to enjoy, and the promise of Spring ahead that it brings to mind.

Blessings,
Nancy

Thankful Journal

One of my goals for 2012 is to cultivate more of an attitude of thankfulness in my life. I am generally a “glass half-empty” type, and so I am always in need of improvement in this area. The good news is that being thankful is so much more pleasant than being grumbly. And God has told us that He wants us to be thankful, so it’s like we’re given permission to be happy, rather than sad!

One of the things that I have wanted to do for quite awhile, but never really got around to doing is to keep a Thankful Journal. I’ve talked about doing this all year, but haven’t taken action on it. Well, that has now changed because I sat down on New Year’s Day and made my journal so that it is all ready for me to write in, and, in fact, I have started making some entries in it already.

To make the journal, I started with a sketch pad from Walmart ~

I then added scrapbook paper to the cover to make it pretty. You can find out how to do this here.

After I had it all covered, I pulled out some old magazines and started cutting out pictures that I liked. I do this for my daily planning journal and I really love it. I love looking through magazines with lovely pictures, and by cutting them out and using them in my journals, I can keep the pictures that I enjoy looking at so much. It makes for a really pretty, personalized journal that just makes me happy looking through it! Sometimes, if I’m really motivated, I pull out my stamps and add more embellishment with them – I really love the look, but don’t always have time to do that much. Here are pictures of some of the pages I made ~

On the first page of my Thankful Journal I copied Colossians 3:15-17, and on the second page I wrote out Philippians 4:6-7.

I started recording my thankful thoughts on the next available page. This just consists of an on-going list that I am keeping on a (mostly) daily basis. In the beginning these entries are tending to be of a more general nature, but I intend for them to get more moment specific as I go on. Here is what my first page looks like ~

By writing in my journal on a regular basis I am hoping to help keep my mind and my thoughts in a grateful mode – just one way that I am hoping to affect a change in this area. Thankfulness is first and foremost an outpouring of the heart in response to God’s love and abundant care for us, and so spending time in the Bible and walking and talking closely with the Lord is the most important means for me to change my thoughts. My journal is a tool that I am using to help retrain my mind towards more thankful thoughts.

Now you don’t have to make a journal like this to have a Thankful Journal You could use any blank book, or simply some paper, or I guess even your favorite electronic device (!) – whatever is motivating to you – you need to want to write in it! I’m so glad that I finally got mine put together, and am looking forward to its positive impact in my life.

Have a lovely day!
Blessings,
Nancy

Happy New Year 2012!

Well, here we are in a brand new year! I love the beginning of a new year – so full of new beginnings and fresh starts! The hustle and bustle of the holidays is over and there is time once again for reflection and putting things in order. I spent some time yesterday jotting down and thinking through my goals for 2012, and will share those with you tomorrow. A friend remarked the other day that, as Christians, we really can enjoy this fresh new start each and every day ~

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
His mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is Your faithfulness .
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore, I will hope in Him.”

Lamentations 3:22-24

We can have a fresh start each morning, as we choose to walk each moment of our day with the Lord, and trust Him with all that comes our way. One of my goals for this new year is to release my burdens to the Lord each and every time I am confronted with them – rather than worrying or becoming anxious and frustrated. I want to live in the peace that He has promised me.

And what about blogging, you might ask – is that on my list for the new year? Well, yes, it is, I’m glad to say. I hope you will stop by and visit frequently, as I plan to be back in the writing saddle (sorry, my Texas is showing!) from now on.

Check back tomorrow for my 2012 goals list, and I hope you have a wonderful day!

Blessings,
Nancy

Simple Pleasures . . .

I’ve been thinking about how much joy can come from the simple things in life. Things that pertain to family, nature, and just life in general. They usually aren’t expensive, but are worth so very, very much. I like to think of these as – and I solidly believe that they are – blessings from a loving Father, sent to delight us and, many times, to teach us about Himself.

Here are a few of the simple pleasures that I am enjoying in my life ~

~ Bedtime stories every night with my littles.

~ The changing of the seasons.

~ An afternoon on the front porch with a cool drink and my notebooks, drinking in the beauty of tall green trees, pretty flowers, and watching my little ones play.

~ Baking goodies for my family.

~ Conversations with my teenagers.

~ Beautiful pictures in magazines – cutting them out and decorating my journal with them.

~ Lighting a seasonal candle while I’m cooking or relaxing at night.

~ Hearing a sweet “I love you” from one of my kids.

~ Harvesting anything from the garden.

~ Stroking a kitty’s soft fur.

~ Sewing on a quilt and enjoying the beautiful fabrics.

~ Small town friendliness.

~ Fresh clean laundry.

~ Stopping by the Sno-cone stand on a hot summer day.

~ Seeing my husband pulling into the driveway.

~ A good book.

~ Popcorn with a late night movie.

~ Occasionally taking the slow, windey, country road rather than the highway.

~ Watching my children grow and learn.

~ Seeing the Lord working in my heart, growing me.

I begin to think that I could probably go on and on. Thank you, Lord, for all of your special gifts to us!

What simple pleasures are you enjoying?

Blessings,
Nancy