February 23, 2010


Just a little over one year ago; on a cold blustery January night; when the snow was deep, and the temperature was 14 below... Our sheep Amelia had triplets. Two big boys, and an absolutely teensy little girl - so small, I could easily pick her up with one hand. (She was about eight inches long, and just a couple pounds.) Too tiny to survive the extreme temperatures - she ended up coming to live in the house with us... For a month.
We named her Amberina.

That was quite the month. Changing her diapers, feeding her bottles around the clock, and keeping her out of mischief. Due to her feeding schedule - and need for constant supervision - she went everywhere we went... Including church. As you can see from the photo - her favorite spot was next to the wood stove with her friend (the stuffed goat "Erasmus"). We have had Erasmus for awhile - but decided Amberina could have him - in the hopes that he would remind her of her brothers and keep her company. She usually liked Erasmus pretty well - but one night, she would not go to sleep - and kept jumping around her cardboard box and being extremely silly. Thinking she was just being hyper as usual - I reached into her box - made her lay down - and snuggled Erasmus up next to her. Immediately, in the darkness there was a quick flash of eery blue light coming from her box. At that point I was almost as disturbed as Amberina, knowing that neither of them should be glowing blue... Reaching into the box again, I felt the crackle of static electricity. Evidently the combination of Erasmus and Amberina's wooliness was causing some 'shocking' results.
She was basically done with Erasmus after that.

Amberina's all grown up now. Considering her confusing lambhood - she's turned out to be a very happy, well-adjusted little sheep.
(Which isn't always the case for bottle lambs.)

Last night Amberina passed another milestone. She's a momma now.

I can't tell you how proud we are to see what a good momma she is. We'd always wondered if she would be able to do it - since she never really had a mom herself - but she surprised us.
She loves the little guy so much.

And we are so thankful.
Second generation bottle lambs are not our idea of a good time.

(We named him "Erasmus")...

February 19, 2010


My brother was taking some pictures of our sweet little bird this morning...

She can be quite charming when she wants to;

and she's not nearly as hostile as she used to be;

but she still regresses occasionally...

(Thanks for the pictures Joe!)

February 17, 2010

The lambie dears

Our little barnyard has been blessed with the most bountiful flock of sweetness yet.

Almost too much sweetness. If that were possible.

They're everywhere out there;

And so adorably precious: that it hurts.

A warm and fuzzy little heartache; twenty times multiplied.

Yep. We're at twenty lambs now.
And still counting.

February 15, 2010

Being Still

This poem was a great encouragement to me a couple of years ago when I first found it; and I'm making it a "post-valentine post" - in the hope that it will be the same for any young ladies out there that may sometimes find this season of their life difficult. May God bless each of you - wherever you are in the journey of discovering the tremendous joys and blessings of the season the Lord has you in.

Sit still, my daughter! Just sit calmly still!
Nor deem these days--these waiting days--as ill!
The One who loves thee best, who plans thy way,
Hath not forgotten they great need today!
And, if He waits, 'tis sure He waits to prove
To thee, His tender child, His heart's deep love.

Sit still, my daughter! Just sit calmly still!
Thou longest much to know thy dear Lord's will!
While anxious thoughts would almost steal their way
Corrodingly within, because of His delay--
Persuade thyself in simple faith to rest
That He, who knows and loves, will do the best.

Sit still, my daughter! Just sit calmly still!
Nor move one step, not even one, until
His way hath opened. Then, ah then, how sweet!
How glad thy heart, and then how swift thy feet
Thy inner being then, ah then, how strong!
And waiting days not counted then too long.

Sit still my daughter! Just sit calmly still!
What higher service could'st thou for Him fill?
'Tis hard! ah yes! But choicest things must cost!
For lack of losing all, how much is lost!
'Tis hard, 'tis true! But then--He giveth grace--
To count the hardest spot, the sweetest place.

J. Danson Smith

(I took the above photo in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic)

February 11, 2010

Feeling Sheepish

I'm very sorry if you're tired of hearing about sheep; I can't say that I blame you. I'm with you. If you simply can't handle another sheep post - I suggest you stop now - because we're still feeling pretty sheepish around here.

For those of you who are still reading...
Yesterday was a truly classical mayhem day. We haven't had many of those lately. It has been pretty quiet these past few months. Disturbingly quiet. Things were going pretty well, until 4:00 when it was time to go out and give the sheep their mid-afternoon snack. The first hint that all was not well was the sheep half-buried in a snow drift. (No, I didn't take a picture.) Evidently she had been trying to crawl under the bottom rung of the wooden fence. Well, she was 'great with lamb' and only managed to make it half-way before she got stuck. That's when the wind came along and dumped a whole snowdrift on the poor thing, and there she had been for a great long while - judging by the icicles on her chin and eyelashes.

After about ten minutes of shoveling, I had her free - but she wouldn't stand up. Eventually, (with the help of my brother) we were able to get her up and in the barn. (Where she proceeded to eat non-stop for the rest of the evening.)

I really felt like I had done enough to deserve a mug of hot chocolate at that point; but in the process of excavating Meredith, I had noticed a lamb I didn't recognize, wobbling around one of the sheds. After convincing myself that we wouldn't be amputating any frozen sheep feet - I went looking for that lamb...

I found her in a little shed, all snuggled up against one of our older ewes - Amelia. I could immediately see that Amelia was right in the middle of having a lamb - so I assumed this baby was hers also. Something was strange though... The baby looked like it was a couple of hours old - so either Amelia was having trouble or this wasn't her baby... (Lambs usually aren't that far apart.) Strangely enough; she kept on talking to it and licking it like it was hers... Meanwhile, Amelia's three year old daughter, Alice, was running in circles around the shed baaa-ing in that certain voice that they only use when they are looking for their babies. That's when I found another little lamb in the corner, all covered with snow, that hadn't made it. Probably Alice's. Putting two and two together - I knew that the other baby was Alice's too - despite what Amelia was saying about it.

I decided to pick the little shivering thing up and take it to the barn - within five seconds - I had two bellowing mommas chasing after me. One of which was getting ready to drop a lamb any minute. I postponed offering to cut the lamb in two - figuring that if I just waited a few seconds - we would have another lamb to bargain with. Sure enough, the moment Mom and I had some straw on the floor, Amelia had her lamb. As soon as she saw her own little boy, she was sufficiently distracted. As crazy as the last half-hour had been, everyone quieted down at that moment. It doesn't matter how many lambs I catch - I still panic those first few seconds. His little lips were purple. But then he sputtered - and then he cried - and all was well.

Within five minutes, he had a little brother. A teeny tiny little brother. Amelia was happy. My hands and feet were frozen, but I couldn't resist taking a moment to soak up the peacefulness - and examine the tiny little ears and noses in the soft red glow of the heat lamp.

By that time it was dark, and I was numb, and a cup of tea was sounding like a really good idea. More than enough mayhem for one day.

We had yet another lamb this evening... The snowdrift lady (Meredith) made a speedy recovery - and was well enough to have her little boy. (And she still has all of her feet - by some miracle.) We are now at the point where I have officially lost count of how many sheep we have. I'll get back with you on that.

February 9, 2010

another one...

I think lambing is contagious.

As of thirty minutes ago...we have ten little sheepers total.

We're calling this one Hayden.

I went out there to help Tasha (his momma) dry him off and get him on his feet. It was cold; but I really wouldn't have minded all that much - if it weren't for the cat perched on my shoulder. Not helpful.

February 8, 2010

Our Polar Bear

I just captured some rare footage of our normally very camera-shy polar bear in residence.
He's our official guardian of sheep, chaser of bikes, and flee-er of cameras. Haggai.

Even though I'm on this guy's good side; I still don't like the idea of him coming after my bicycle. We really wouldn't allow him to do such a thing, it's just that sometimes he escapes. We thought about re-naming him Houdini. You'd be surprised what he can climb over or squeeze through.

He wouldn't ever purposely hurt anyone - he just knows how to make people scream. It's mainly his skill in the element of surprise. Isn't it hard to imagine that something so huge could be so sneaky? He's more likely to try to shake your hand than anything else, but the greatest danger is probably the risk of flying slobber. Now that is what I call a traumatic experience.

As a little side note:

Meet Drew. Our newest little lambie. He and his sister Damaris arrived early Sunday morning. They needed names that started with "D" (due to my odd sheep organizational system) so I just couldn't resist naming him Drew. (Might make more sense to fans of football...) (We definitely aren't going to be sore losers...)

February 6, 2010

A Birthday Tribute

On this date in 1833, James Ewell Brown Stuart was born in Virginia. He would become one of the greatest Southern Generals of the Civil War; and one of my heroes.

One year ago, I had decided that I wanted to attempt painting a portrait of a Civil War soldier; I wanted something dramatic that would look good over a fireplace mantel. At the same time, I wanted to honor a man with a godly legacy. I wanted a painting with meaning behind it. That's when I happened across the photo below. I haven't seen another Civil War era photo quite like this one. I love all of the detail you can see in it - everything from his sword, to his calvary boots. When I read a short little essay about General J.E.B. Stuart's life - I knew he was definitely the one to paint. He wasn't just a military genius, he was a godly man.

It took nearly a year... but my painting is finally finished. In time for Jeb's 177th birthday.

(If you've never read anything about Jeb Stuart, you should! The best biography I know of is by John W. Thomason.)

(By the way, in case you're wondering... I don't pick sides when it comes to the Civil War. I admire the "good guys" -north and south-.)

February 4, 2010

Home again

We made it home last night. Due to all that was going on, we stayed in Florida longer than originally planned. My grandma has been diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer, and is still in the hospital. As unexpectedly sudden, and difficult as this news has been - we still find ourselves praising the Lord for the blessings. Praising Him for the peace, the joy, and the grace He has continued to pour over our lives in this rough time. We have definitely felt the prayers. On top of that - it has been such a tremendous time of family bonding for all of us. The precious time spent with each other has developed into priceless life-time memories. We are overwhelmed how each little detail has fallen into place so perfectly. The timing couldn't have been improved on. The Lord has been taking me through a rigorous process this past year of seeing how what seems like evil is meant for our good, and I've been learning to see that what feels like pain is the loving hands of the Potter on my life.

It was hard to leave grandma and our family in Florida, but we are so happy to be reunited with Dad.

I've been back in the U.S. for over a week now, and I'm still remembering stories I haven't told yet. It was a trip that I'll never forget. I was thrilled with the amount of immersion we had - with the language, and the culture. I would go to sleep every night with a thoroughly confused and exhausted brain... By the third day I was catching myself thinking in Spanish; which was weird. Needless to say - I was only able to think very simple thoughts, which I found to be a little restrictive... Unfortunately, I just wasn't there quite long enough to make it "click" completely - but I'm still pleased with the progress made language-wise, despite the Caribbean dialect problems. (I didn't think it was Spanish at first...) My favorite phrase was definitely: "Más despacio por favor..." (Slower please...) Closely seconded by: "¿Qué?" (What?)

The mission team was made up mainly of retired couples from Grandpa's church, with the exception of myself and another young lady who is 27. She speaks Spanish fluently - and was such a wonderful language tutor for me! It was a privilege to spend time with older Christians that have walked with the Lord for many years.

We had a few scary moments; mostly traffic related. Like seeing the guy pictured above. Probably not the most intelligent means of transporting propane I've ever seen, but you'd be surprised what can be accomplished on a moped...

There were at least two aftershocks in Haiti while we were in Santiago. I didn't think I felt the first one, (at the time, I didn't realize what woke me up) the next morning however - I definitely felt the second one. We were only 100 miles from Port-au-Prince, but it was just a vibration. Kind of like when a cell phone is on vibrate.

Working with the children was such a blessing to me. I had the most difficult time understanding their names. Asking them to repeat it didn't help... It sounds strange; simple as you'd think a name would be, but they were very unique - not ordinary Spanish names. The team's main mission was to take in "JESUS Film" equipment. We were able to show the movie in Spanish at four different locations. Many of the people were hearing/seeing the Gospel for the first time. During the day, we spent time with the children, and the men painted the local church inside and out. The kids loved having their picture taken. Out of the 600 photos taken; here are a few of the highlights.

I was having a very, very difficult time communicating with this last little boy - I was able to understand that he wanted his picture taken - but that was it. After a few minutes I went to get a little girl that was bi-lingual to help me... As it turned out - he is originally from Haiti and doesn't speak Spanish all that well yet. We were pretty funny - trying to communicate in a language that neither of us knew very well. There were several Haitian kids at the school who only spoke Creole. They were our daily reminders of what was going on in Haiti - about 50 miles away.

I definitely felt like a little part of me was left behind when it was time to leave. I had to console myself with the thought that maybe I'll get to go back someday. I really felt such a love for the country from the moment I arrived - everything from the mountains and the ocean to the humidity and the food; but especially the people - and their beautiful language.

Of course, the biggest blessing of the trip - was being able to spend so much quality time with my grandpa. Please continue to keep both of my grandparents in your prayers.