Friday, August 23, 2019

Marriage Marker - Our Sweet Sixteenth Wedding Anniversary

Today, Dave and I celebrate our sweet sixteenth wedding anniversary! (WOO-HOO!!) (Well, Dave says we have to wait until 1:30 p.m. Central Time before it's official.....lol)

We are so very thankful to the Lord for granting us the time together that He has, and we always pray He glorify Himself in our marriage, and that He might draw others to Christ through us!

David & Susan Wedding Couple


To give a little background, Dave and I met at the church we both attended. We got "thrown" onto the same church softball team at the last minute. My name had somehow been placed on two rosters, and, little did we know it, our whole future was straddling between two pieces of paper. Our friend, Dorothy, was the one who made the decision to put me on the team Dave was on, so she holds the title of being our match maker :) I had played bobby sox softball in 6th grade but not much since then, so I was pretty rusty and insecure about it. At the first practice, Dave and I ended up being each other's warm up catch partner. I will never forget how kind and patient he was with me. I was throwing the ball all over the place, and he was just steady and respectful and rolled with it. Over the course of the summer, we became friends, and then started dating, and got married almost exactly two years after our first date:

David & Susan Engagement Day


That summer as we slowly became friends, we made discovery after discovery of how like-minded we were, how our upbringings were extremely similar, how we went to the same church at different times growing up, how both of our families were very musical, and our shared love for, of all things, barbershop music. We had both sung in barbershop groups in our youth:

Susan's Barbershop Groups

David's Barbershop Group


And we had a roving barbershop quartet sing before and after our wedding ceremony :)

Barbershop Group 'Q; at Wedding


The list goes on and on and on.....

Backing up a bit, I remember that summer on my 38th birthday, my family took me out for a wonderful birthday brunch, and one of my gifts was a gorgeous frog prince statue to remind me that my Prince Charming was out there, I just hadn't met him yet. I was kind of discouraged, and this was a very thoughtful gift that reminded me "he" was out there! That very afternoon, I got a voicemail from Dave, my new friend on the softball team, asking if I wanted to go to the batting cages with him and his buddy. That was the start of a beeeeeeeeutiful friendship.....

On a side note, I recently found one of my journals that spanned that period of time. I had made the decision a few months beforehand to stop dating and looking for the right guy and focus on my Christian walk and on Christ. I believe God was drawing me to Himself and honored those months of diligently seeking Him and focusing on Him alone. In that journal, I had written down all of the qualities I was looking for in a Godly husband, and when I was reading it the other day, I realized that Dave met every single quality, and I had to laugh and thank God that He did such a better job at finding a husband for me than I could have.

Over the course of those two years of dating, the Lord brought us through some heavy-duty theological issues, and any one of them probably would have been a deal breaker for our relationship, but the Lord seemed to bring us both along and establish a strong, like-minded, Christ-centered bond. It was something I had not experienced in a relationship before, and we both recognized the precious, life-long value of it.

We look back and are astonished that God preserved both of us through a lot of self-inflicted detours and curve balls in each of our lives before bringing us together.

Our worldview had started to change over the course of our dating years, and we knew after we got married, all bets were off and we were probably on our way into uncharted territory. On our wedding day, we had the theme to the Indiana Jones movie play as our recessional, and after our fathers had pronounced us husband and wife (both of our fathers officiated the ceremony), they said in unison "Let the adventure begin!" Don't believe me? Here is that wedding video clip!




And we have NOT been disappointed!

About two years later and after much prayer and consideration, we left our corporate jobs in Silicon Valley and moved to Texas to start our own homestead and live near like-minded Christian families. Our first two years together in California were like introducing our two rabbits, Buttercup and Derbie, and watching them get used to living together and bonding and having a ton of fun together. Yes, it really was a life of bunnies and lollipops. Well, bunnies and Cold Stone Creamery ice cream, to be exact :)

Buttercup & Derby


After moving to Texas it was like throwing Buttercup and Derbie into the path of a predator and watching them cling together for dear life. LOL! I say that partly joking. But the next fourteen years have proven to be the hardest, yet most precious and spiritually rewarding years yet. And I am in awe as I have watched my husband cling to Christ in times of heartache, difficulty, trial and testing. You talk about throwing monkey wrenches into newly married life. We went from a life of ease and uber-convenience to:

  • Living off grid (we lived for 10 years in our 5th wheel trailer before moving into our house, and its amenities actually did help us transition)
  • No piped-in running water
  • No grid electricity, only solar
  • No air conditioning (well, just a smidge the first 1 or 2 summers :) )
  • Learning to live and get along in a close-knit Church community with many different personalities
  • Texas weather!

And we have cultivated trying to find God's working hand of providence, and maybe some humor (Dave makes me laugh all...the...time), in just about anything to keep things in perspective.

In the years we have lived an off-grid homesteading life, Dave has amazed me by rolling up his tech-geek sleeves and truly building a homestead from scratch. And I mean scratch. He is one of the most hard working people I have ever met. He has built a wonderful home for us (with God-sent assistance thoughout), including all kinds of clever inventions to handle all of our quirky farm needs. He never, ever ceases to amaze me. There is never a Honey-do list because as soon as I mention something, he's on it! My mother and father-in-law did a wonderful job of bringing up both of their sons as kind, responsible, resourceful gentlemen. I love my in-laws dearly, as well.

Most importantly, God ordained for me a husband who would lovingly and patiently be my catch partner in life. A man to speak to my struggles and weaknesses and help me in them, to encourage me and walk alongside me into the unknowns of life. Don't get me wrong, this lifestyle can definitely bring out the worst in us, but, I have seen the Holy Spirit slowly and consistently, with all grace, mercy and love, sand away those raw edges in Dave, increasingly manifested by:

  • Consistently modeling Christ to me, loving me as Christ loves the Church
  • Leading me in family worship every evening
  • Choosing charity (love) every day
  • Choosing forgiveness and praying for God not to hold an offense to someone's account (that is a hard prayer)
  • Trusting more and more in God's sovereignty
  • Helping me set boundaries to keep my carnal man in check

Dave makes it easy to submit, as I am called to do as his wife. He helps me want to be a better help meet to Him, and we help each other put on the full armor of God each day.

Dave has been and continues to be the biggest gift in my life, after Christ. I am eternally grateful for the one whom my soul loveth in this life. This sixteenth anniversary is so very sweet, indeed!

All thanks, praise and glory to God!

Susan

Friday, August 16, 2019

Providence's Perpetuation Provisions: The 5th of 2019 Chick Hatchings

The Lord graciously granted another set of chicks to be hatched out this 2019 -- number 5 for the year!

This mama was hatched out herself late last year as part of a surprise set of chicks, and so was sitting what seems to be pretty early for her, but we'll take it! :D

She hatched out 10, and all 10 are still doing well today!

Here they are not long after entering the world:

5th Round of 2019 Chicks

More of 5th Round of 2019 Chicks


And here's their video:




We are always thankful to God for granting these provisions! It is our prayer that He guide us in the use of them, and in all things spiritual and temporal, for His glory and the benefit of others!

-- David

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Hugelkultur Garden Beds - Update I

One thing we have had to learn here is no matter how much we plan, things do not happen in the way or time frame we think they might. Other priorities, resources, etc. are factors that play into this, and so, we have had to learn to be patient, and to keep working toward the things we are trying to do here, as God would allow, and pray that He leads in them all (ie. that we don't try to go down paths He doesn't have for us). We pray for His leading in all areas of our lives, and for the patience to wait on Him, trusting in His love, goodness and wisdom, even if things never end up like we had originally hoped for or planned.

Back in 2013, we did a blog post about starting hugelkultur garden beds, where we explained that generally, this involves burying (below and/or above ground) tree materials, like stumps, trunks or even branches, under your garden soil, and apparently, as the tree material rots, it also becomes very absorbent, and is supposed to help with holding moisture in the garden bed. Back then, we only did one that was in a dug-out bed, but my plan always was to put another one next to it.

Well, back in January of 2018, we started revamping the original hugelkultur bed by adding more branches, and then started on the new one, which was planned to be above ground. My understanding has become that the buried ones are not as good because the water collects in the dug-out bed, and then just gets absorbed into the soil. But, we have it and so re-filled it with branches, and started the new bed with old logs and branches above ground, and Lord willing we'll eventually see how each fares.

Here is the work from last year. After placing all the old wood, I was able to add on top a load of mulch from the local landfill, where they have a huge, huge pile of it that we can go get pretty inexpensively:

New Wood in Hugelkultur Bed

New Hugelkultur Bed

Wood in Hugelkultur Beds

Covering Hugelkultur Bed in Mulch

Hugelkultur Beds Partially Covered in Mulch


Well, fast forward to this year somewhat recently. I have finally made the time and been able to take the time to start making landfill trips more consistently, and covering the hugelkultur beds was first on the list. I think it took nearly two loads in the back of the truck, where I have a 4-foot high, OSB-walled mulch carrier, to cover it all.

This is how it looked before starting to cover this time:

Ready to Continue Covering Hugelkultur Beds in Mulch


And then after one load, I believe:

More Mulch on Hugelkultur Beds


And then covered in total:

Hugelkultur Beds Covered in Mulch


And now, we hope to be able to try them out next year, as God wills!

We thank the Lord for the resources to build these hugelkultur beds, the safety in all of the trips, and the physical strength to do all of the mulch unloading and spreading; and we pray He applies it to the ground so as to allow the growth of food at some point, if He might, again, in accordance with His will!

-- David