Created Specifically by God

Hello from the northwest!

The last few days has found us roaming through California.

Southern CA is so beautiful and the early morning foggy temp was half the degrees we‘d endured the day before.

Central CA was filled a wide range of produce, vineyards, orchards, row crops, dairies, etc. our eyes feasted for miles and miles.

Covid the Cow found a pine cone at Sequoia National Park from one of the giants. We made her leave it there, after taking a few pics with it.

Covid the virus robbed us of a visit to Yosemite. But since this is the first thing we haven’t been able to do (other than eating inside) we moved on without complaining.

Further north we hit the coast again and watched the sun slip out of sight over the horizon.

This morning we went exploring while the tide was out and I think all of us expanded our knowledge on sea creatures.

Crater Lake was another very beautiful stop. Em pulled up the random fact that there are 4.6 trillion gallon of water in this lake. This stop is always a highlight.


The last couple of days- everywhere I go I’m seeing unique vegetation in a specific unique climate:

The saguaro cacti of AZ grows off of 4 inches of rain a year and waits to grow their first “arm” until they are 100 🌵

The massive Sequoia trees (pictured with Covid) are over 270 feet tall and 2200 years old.

A starfish has no brains, no blood, and can live to be 35 years old…

Over and over and over, I see God specifically creating and ordaining specific plants and animals to flourish in a variety of environments.

And it got me thinking.

Are you ever tempted to feel like an odd man out- like no one understands you and you really don’t belong? I think if we are all honest we allow ourselves times of doubt. “Why am I here?” “Nobody cares. I don’t belong”

I’ve been pondering this a lot recently and I wonder if this is a lie that Satan whispers to believers to isolate us from our Christian brother and sisters and to rob us of joy.

And the recent intense nature study I’ve been doing convinced me of this even more. God makes no mistakes when He orchestrates details, players, and timelines.

If you are where God has led you, don’t fall prey to second guessing where you find yourself or wishing yourself somewhere else. You are valued. You are needed. As God’s Chosen- you are equipped.

Reach out, open up, and allow the unique beauty of what God’s doing with your story to touch those around you.

Flourish!

Kendra

Bonus Pic:

This is one of those hidden pictures in a picture games. Can you find 4 saddles, 3 shovels heads, 2 singletrees in this pic? 😂

“I will pour water on a thirsty ground”

Excerpts from Isaiah 44 in my daily reading came alive to me this week:

“This is what the Lord says—he who made you, who formed you in the womb, and who will help you: Do not be afraid, my servant… For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground. I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.They will spring up like grass in a meadow, like poplar trees by flowing streams…”

We’ve spent the last several days in intense desert. We ran through some cloud bursts, and a few dust storms.

Stopped at the Texas Cattle Exchange in Eastland and watched the cowboys expertly moving cows. (The children in my group are so excited to see REAL cowboys) The one rancher we talked to said that the native land there supports 1 cow/ 4 acres.

Totally amazed by the amount of action on the oil fields. The temporary housing reminded me of the shanty towns from the gold rush days.

Survived the trek to El Paso and fertile fields along the Rio Grande were a feast to our eyes. The overlook at Cristo Rey provided spectacular views of the city as well as the her Mexican sister city, Juarez.

“Mom, what are we gonna do at Terrified?” The 8 year old in our group was unsure of what to expect at the Petrified Forest 🙈😂 Covid the Cow was pretty unsure of her visit too 🙈

We were privileged to spend the night at the Rim of the Grand Canyon. The sunset there speaks to my heart and calls me to Worship. P.S My sister Em is an angel.

And today God’s provisions in a dry land continued as we traveled thru desert that averages 4 in of rain/year and the van’s thermometer read a high of 126°…

We burst out of cacti land into intense agricultural time after time. I love seeing people loving their land and farming it well. Followed the trucks about 17 miles to a huge dairy operation.

And lastly, random gem from today was discovering the Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial State Park… 19 brave men lost their lives here when the fire they were fighting changed directions with no warning…

So this evening, as I look back over the adventures from the last 3000 miles, these promises again just wash over my heart “Do not be afraid, I will pour water on a thirsty ground.”

Let it rain.

See ya down the trail,

The Masked Mesdames- Ken and Em

Thus begins the travels of the Masked Mesdames

Years ago, someone in our family came up with the brainstorm to publish a newspaper to send to our friends who live hither and yon. Each participant had a regular column. And while the willingness of each participant varied some (ok who are we kidding, I had to hound my little sisters to get their articles in on time) the mail must go thru, and the paper HAD to be ready on time. Eventually there was a complete mutiny among the staff and even tho Mother still sweetly coughed up a recipe for her column, the paper reached a sad end.

Em’s column was written under the guise of a detective. “The Masked Muskrat” snuck around collecting stories.

And here we are however many years later: the legit Masked Muskrats, sneaking around thru the West, collecting stories. We also collected our little Covid Cow and whipped him up a little mask so that he can go with us wherever. Not sure what all our trip mascot will get into- but stay tuned…

We’ve challenged ourselves to #mericabysong Part 2, which is happening on our Instagram stories- if that interests you 🙂 Here CC is riding through the Smoky Mountains singing “Don’t let the Smoky Mountain smoke get in your eyes..”

Our random find of the day was “The Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid” along the Mississippi River in Memphis. The guys took the 300 ft freestanding glass elevator to the top to look out. I opted to stay on the ground, without regret.

We stopped among the rice paddies in Arkansas for BBQ and catfish. Apparently we know very little about the growing season of rice. But we do know good bbq when we taste it, and Nicks is highly recommended.

Currently we are hastening westward, anticipating a day full of adventures as God provides.

I hope your day is blessed as well,

See ya down the trail,

Kendra of the Masked Mesdames

Bonus Pics:

Managed to sneak in a celebration for my friends new daughter during the week I was home..

And my Benfriend managed to sneak my truck while I was babysitting the twins, and returned it detailed ❤️

And these little guys- 7 months old already 💙💙

A Colorado, Rocky Mountain High

“So you visited Colorado recently?” A friend asked “Did you tour around the state?”

“Not really” I said “just mainly stayed local..”

So if any of you, Dear Readers, live within 2-4 hours of the Shenandoah Valley, according to my Colorado measuring stick, I consider you “local”.

Since Nate is teaching school, he and Deb grabbed the chance over summer vacation to spend most of it with his family in CO.

And since tickets are cheaper, Ben and I grabbed the chance to travel out and experience Nate’s Colorado with the tour guide himself.

We were not disappointed.

Our week was packed to the brim with hairpin corners, treacherous mountain rides, breathtakingly beautiful views, good people, delicious food, and lots of good humor.

We camped under the stars and shivered in the brisk 47° air. Had we known, at that point, the bear history of the place where we camped; the guys in the hammocks may have shivered from more than just cold. 😂

We traveled into Silverton and enjoyed the town before catching a gravel road out of town and starting the 12 mile drive to the Animas Fork Ghost town.

I had discovered this place while I was researching for one of my western adventures and it’s been on my bucket list ever set since.

Animas Forks was founded in 1875. At an altitude of 11,200 ft, it’s 450 occupants made it the largest city, that high, in the west.

With the rise and fall of the mining industry, as well as 2 major fires, the town experienced a roller coaster of fluctuating number of residents until it became a ghost town around 1920.

And yet the legends remain.

I wonder who sipped their coffee as they stood and watched the men hurry off to the mines to work… or if these windows were completely covered when the town experienced a 23 day, 25 foot blizzard…

The remaining buildings are so well preserved… I just wish these walls could talk.

But they are silent, and leave us to our own musings and unanswered questions.


The Adobe Hills are such a vast marvel of wilderness. Ben and I spent some time exploring them, wondering at how many acres they are and how desolate.

Another highlight was a day on Grand Mesa. We loved all the different lakes. (Supposedly there are 200 up there, I’m guessing we didn’t see quite all of them. 😝

The views were excellent.

And the wildflowers splashing color everywhere were priceless.

Good thing I thought the flowers were so valuable, because when I knelt down to take this pic, my faithful Maui Jim sunglasses slipped off, and a very large elephant (me) stepped on them and broke them to bits. So please enjoy this pic for the $180 it’s going to cost me 🙄 still mad at my clumsy self.

But why stay mad when there’s hilarious little chipmunks to feed peanuts, and I’m enjoying such fun company?

Why stay mad when the sunset is on fire and lights up a rainbow on the other side of the sky?


Our final day in Delta, was jammed full. We enjoyed a farm tour, complete with watching crews of 30 workers efficiently harvesting the famous “Olathe Sweet” sweet corn

We made it from the Gunnison River at the bottom of the Black Canyon to the top of the Canyon were the river flows 2700 feet below.

And we finished off our exotic trip with a good ol rodeo. So much fun.

What a whirlwind, wonderful experience. Thanks Nate, Deb and the rest of the Kennell family who went above and beyond to make us feel at home (notice they remain unpictured because “we have to give you written permission if you’re gonna post a pic of us on the blog” so sorry for your loss after the sunglass incident, I couldn’t afford the lawyer fees 🤷🏻‍♀️ 😉) luv y’all

God is the best travel agent and He worked out some details for our trip beyond what I could’ve every dreamed up. Such a rich time. Praise Him.

Kendra

Bonus Pic:

Deb and Nate bought the twins these outfits back in the early spring… the boys have long outgrown them… but since Nate’s waited to tell his family until they were in person ( 😅) I waited until now to share this pic.

We are all excited to meet Baby Kennell, Lord willing, October 2020 ❤️

Summer Sentiments

To our friends scattered to and fro,

Hello from the beautiful Shenandoah Valley!

We are all thoroughly enjoying a day of rest in the midst of beautiful summer harvest.

Here are a few pics from my last several weeks.

We are experimenting with some soybeans in West Virginia… this is my Ben friend pulling the tanker for our spray unit over the mountain.

Riv exemplifies how we all feel about summertime wheat harvest ❤️

As with every wheat harvest, we stood around on pins and needles waiting for the crop to ripen… and once it did, we flew across the acres and are hoping to be done the first part of this week.

I keep thinking of the verses from 1 Cor 3 that says “So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.”

This years crop reminded us once again how much everything comes from God. This crop was a pretty big disappointment for some of our farmers. He gives, He takes, He provides. Blessed be His name.

Carry out in the combine cab with one of our grain haulers 😉

This crazy hectic whirlwind season leaves me exhausted, but so so thankful.

One more farm of soybeans to plant, and I’ll be ready to sit back and pray for rain ☺️

May you see God at work in your summertime too,

Kendra

Bonus Pics:

There’s full time boarders living at the cabin these days… They seem to think that if they are in charge of mosquito control, they don’t need to pay rent 🤷🏻‍♀️

Thoroughly enjoying being able to host at the pond this summer… let us know when you’re coming to visit 😉

The Quest for the Perfect Birthday Gift for My Ben Friend

I love birthdays and the chance to celebrate the blessing of life in the people that God has surrounded me with.

I love finding the perfect gift that is a small token reminder that says “ you’re special and you mean a lot to me”

But Help! what do you get a boyfriend?


Ever since our Christmas gift exchange, I knew today was gonna be the next big deal, so I’ve been on the lookout for the appropriate gift for my Ben friend.

Don’t misunderstand- Gift giving is pretty high on my love language charts, I love giving- but until the gift is happily in the hands of the recipient, I’m always second guessing if it’s the best option 🤷🏻‍♀️😂

In April when Ben and crew emptied our pit at the dairy, I was riding shotgun at the end of the day and I watched as Ben serviced the tank before shutting down for the night- he clamped his pocket flashlight in his teeth and ran his grease gun with confidence.

Several days later, my dad and I stopped at a local tire shop and the owner couldn’t get done bragging about the new rechargeable battery headlamp he’d just purchased in town.

And a light came on in my brain. Ben could really use a handsfree light!

So when my dad and I stopped at that same store later that day, you can imagine how pleased I was to secure a headlamp for Ben’s birthday.

I knew Ben could use the light immediately, so I gave him his gift 2 months early (*note: not the best plan- but I was so afraid he’d get the same tire shop sales pitch and purchase one himself.) Only to have my dad swoop in after Ben was done opening the gift and say “hey what exactly is that? I’m gonna look on the internet and see how bad Ken got took”

Long story short- my dad proudly found the exact same headlamps for $34 less than the original one I’d purchased and he’s been mass ordering them ever since and giving away Ben’s birthday gift to everyone and his brother.

So Happiest of Birthdays, Ben. The world is brighter because of you (and not just because there’s 25 more 350,000 Lumen LED headlamps shining out into the darkness) 😂😂😂 I’m so thankful for you! ❤️

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matt 5:16

Blessings,

Kendra

This is My Father’s World

Sunday afternoon found Ben and I out for a Jeep ramble. The weather was perfect and the sun smiled on us as we meandered up the side of the mountain.

There’s such a variety of wild flowers blooming right now, they waved gently in the breezes as we eased past.

A pair of Grouse (incidentally what do you call two Grouse? Grice? 🤷🏻‍♀️😂) didn’t seem at all in a hurry to get out of our way. A mama Whitetail and her fawn ignored us as we passed. It was gorgeous.

After getting distracted by several mud puddles and a rock pile or two along the trail, we eventually made it to a lookout at Bald Knob. Wow.

We stood on the edge of the world and looked as far as we could see. The low humidity made it to where we could easily see the mountain range that stops just below Stevens City. How far is that- 60 miles? Maybe further.

We paused for a moment and enjoyed the hustle of the forest- the sounds of the wind and the birds and a random bee that floated past.

As we looked out into the wild blue yonder, Ben mentioned how small a view like that makes you feel.

And it does- in the midst of this crazy season of emotional ups and downs that this chaotic world is throwing at us, it did my heart wonders to stop, and recognize how microscopic my problems and perspective really is. God is on the throne and in control.

My hearts been singing these lyrics ever since:

This is my Father’s world,
And to my listening ears
All nature sings, and round me rings
The music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world:
I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas–
His hand the wonders wrought.

This is my Father’s world:
The birds their carols raise,
The morning light, the lily white,
Declare their Maker’s praise.
This is my Father’s world:
He shines in all that’s fair;
In the rustling grass I hear Him pass,
He speaks to me everywhere.

This is my Father’s world:
O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the Ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world:
Why should my heart be sad?
The Lord is King: let the heavens ring!
God reigns; let earth be glad!

Blessings,

Kendra

Bonus Pics:

Hosted our first out of town guests at the cabin… I loved the photo feed of what all critters these adorable boys discovered here . Come again, Beth and family ❤️

We had a pretty major freeze a month ago and we’ve been carefully monitoring our wheat for damage… pretty crazy that it’s just now showing up… the head on the left is healthy. Notice how the other two only have 2 or 3 healthy kernels per head

It’s so fascinating how many variables come into play with growing and harvesting a crop… I’m so thankful that this is my Fathers World and I can trust Him to provide what we need ❤️

The Cairn Challenge

Last week when it was a little more sunny, but still not very warm, we looked at the forecast and hurried to get seeds in the ground.

In the middle of the planting fun, there went out a decree that all the rocks should be picked. This is not an uncommon springtime activity, but our one rental field runs beside a little river and has thousands of river rocks which is a fairly daunting task when one is picking rocks alone.

So the troops were rallied. Mr Good, Em, a trusty John Deere tractor and I set out to take the rocks by storm.

In the middle of our rock picking marathon, Mr Good and the tractor got summoned to load a seed truck, so Em and I were left to entertain ourselves until they returned.

We systematically moved across the field creating piles of rocks to be thrown into the bucket and hauled to the edge of the field once we were full staffed again.

I went one way and Em went another. And suddenly appeared a tower on the horizon.

Em was at work. (Photo credit to her for a number of these pics)

I didn’t feel threatened by her Leaning Tower of Pisa, but soon I found a legit beam in my rock gathering and immediately the perfect photo opportunity idea starting growing in my mind.

But since everything turns into a competition…

Em came over to look at my work and as luck would have it, my artwork collapsed as she arrived and she has multiple videos of a somewhat harried KH frantically attempting to prop up her rock tower.

Em said mine ended up more of a rock pile instead of a rock stack. But I didn’t agree to any rules at the beginning of this contest, so I wasn’t actually disqualified. And I got my pic:

Within minutes, the tractor was back from its seed run and Em ceremoniously drove over my little construction site. And we both laughed at how much fun grown women can having stacking rocks. I guess it’s up to you to judge who won, because I can’t give an unbiased opinion here.

Our rock stacks brought back to mind the rocks I’ve seen along trails, and roads, and just all over the place whenever I travel. So I looked it up and this is what google informed me:

Stacked rocks, more commonly known as Cairns, placed along the trail signify that you are on the right track. It is a marker guiding you to the correct path or trail in cases where navigation becomes difficult and the trail may be easily lost.

There are people in my life who are legit “cairns” who carefully, boldly place the stones from their story to erect a skyscraper to remind me that I’m on the right trail.

“I was there, but for grace, I’m here… carry on” they call out encouragingly.

I hope I’m faithful to use the rocks in my life to testify. If the lessons that life is teaching me can encourage others to stay focused on the right trail, there’s so much to be gained by being willing to share.

Thank you, Jesus, for grace.

Kendra

Bonus Pics:

Me: it’s almost like there’s the outline of fingers in the clouds this morn
My dad: maybe Gods reminding us He has us in the palm of His Hand

First official grill out was a success and Deb even grabbed a pic to prove it.

And us, every time our fam gets together… thanks Ben for the photo 😂

A Woman of Noble Character, 2020 Edition; Proverbs 31

10Who can find a virtuous and capable woman in a pandemic? She is more precious than gold.

11Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life.

12She brings him good, not harm,all the days of her life.

13She finds her children’s school assignments and carefully reviews it with them.

14She is like a merchant’s ship, ordering her supplies from afar. (Thanks Amazon Prime) she fears no food shortage, her pantry is full.

15She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household and plan the day’s activities for her family.

16She’s does careful research before investing in the stock market, with her earnings she plants a garden.

17She is energetic and strong, a hard worker.

18She’s not afraid to purchase large quantities of chicken offered by local poultry growers; her lamp burns late into the night. No one goes hungry on her watch

19Her hands are busy with quarantine projects, her fingers aren’t afraid to try something new. (Like learning a new crochet pattern)

20She extends a helping hand to the poor at the food pantry; notices and befriends the one who needs encouragement; and opens her arms to make masks for the needy.

21She has no fear of the May winter for her household, for everyone has warm clothes;the most vulnerable plants in her garden are covered; and she trusts in God to protect the rest.

22She makes her own bedspreads. She dresses in fine linen and purple gowns although all social events are canceled.

23Her husband is well known in the town, even when social distancing keeps him away.

24 She keeps an eye on Facebook Marketplace when the options for thrifting and yardsaling for her children’s clothes aren’t possible this year. She makes belted linen garments and sashes for her family, they dress well.

25She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she shrugs at the conspiracy theories around her; laughs without fear of the future.

26When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness. Her life is full of peace.

27She carefully watches everything in her household and suffers nothing from laziness.

28Her children stand and bless her. Her husband praises her:

29“There are many virtuous and capable women in the world, but you surpass them all!”

30Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the LORD will be greatly praised.

31Reward her for all she has done. Let her deeds publicly declare her praise

Happy Mother’s Day Weekend to the numerous ladies who’ve blessed my life, but especially my darling Mother- I’m so thankful for you ❤️

Student Ray and Career Day

Years ago, Mother gifted one of my sisters with a Fisher-Price barn set. Lancaster Co didn’t have anything on us after that- as we created the most pristine farm scenes on the kitchen floor. Our animals were well fed with Cheerios or whatever cereal mother had on hand.. We were the best farmers around.

The farm set doesn’t get quite as much use these days- our little visitors don’t hesitate to get the animals out and set up shop whenever they get a chance, and I’ve been know to get it out occasionally

That accident-prone Farmer Stan was one good reason. (More about that book here) My sisters were pretty sure that the tractor rollover and ambulance scene in this one would traumatize children. But I don’t think we realized how tough children are. I’ve even enjoyed watching my cousin and his adorable daughter in his living room acting out Farm Stan’s ambulance ride to the hospital 😂 I sure hated to tell my fam about that video 😉😂

Round 2 happened when Farmer Stan waded into an equipment war via poetry and tried to decide which brand of equipment was best. That post is here.

And so Farmer Stan is well established. But it so happens that I have an adorable nephew named Isaiah Stan AND an adorable nephew named Uriah Ray. See my predicament?

Enter my bargain shark sister Julia who discovered an entire Fisher-Price gold mine in the Bargain Buys in the newspaper and proceeded to buy herself multiple sets as well as a different one for each of her sisters. And my need to “even the score on the book” detail.

The stage is set to introduce to you: Student Ray.

Student Ray is a schoolboy with an assignment to select a profession for Dress Up/ Career Day. He interviews everybody and their brother to get a variety of ideas for job opportunities.

Aunt Em has advice…

And Grandfather has advice…

Aunt Deb even speaks in Spanish… (and yes I did actually drag these toys the entire way to Nicaragua for this pic 🙈)

He gets the plus side on custom harvesting, roofing, becoming a pilot, and a number of other jobs.

But in the end Mama sings him a little song ( found here ) which may or may not have been the foundation for this entire book 😉

I won’t ruin the punch line by telling you who Reader Ray decides to be. But Em declares the ending “cheesy” 😂 and it is.

But the truth is- no matter what life brings to my little men- I pray that they chose to be what this world needs most- another godly man ❤️

Luv you buddies,

Aunt Ken

Bonus Pics:

I had so much help with this project. Occasionally more help than I wished for:

And Jul insisted that I include her sneaky photography too… so this is her addition to my project 😝

And on a completely unrelated note- we enjoyed our first radishes from the garden. I get all starry-eyed over that initial toast, butter, radishes, salt and pepper sandwiches 😍

My mom: I never could grow decent radishes until I learned about German Radishes. These came from Berlin.

My dad crunching away in his sandwich: East Berlin or West Berlin?

My mom looking confused: Ohio! Berlin Seeds 🤷🏻‍♀️

Us: Ooooooh

So much for German Cuisine 😂

And finally I made the picture perfect s’more the other eve… Expectation:

vs Reality 😩 Dumb dog rocketed in out of nowhere🤷🏻‍♀️