Happy Birthday, Uriah and Isaiah

Last Christmas Julia and Sherman were given the most amazing Christmas gift.

It was such a perfect gift for them that it inadvertently was gifted to each of our family as well.

The gift didn’t get broken or worn out. We all enjoyed it as much as we wanted all year long. And it’s still going strong one year later.

Uriah watches Isaiah face plant

Happy Happy Birthday Buddies 💙💙

Uriah, left. Isaiah right
Isaiah left, Uriah right
Uriah left, Isaiah right

A local seamstress contacted Em and got measurements for the boys and whipped these adorable outfits up for them as they came home from the hospital

Uriah eyes the baby (literally) Isaiah right

“Were we actually this small?”

Such incredible changes in one year.

Uriah left, Isaiah right

Such an immeasurable amount of joy in one year.

Uriah left, Isaiah right

Such a wonderful and timely gift 💙

Uriah left, Isaiah right

Here’s to the next and the next and the next years of enjoying our favorite Christmas gifts 💙💙

Uriah and too much birthday

But first, I think a naps in order 😂

Happy Birthday, Uriah and Isaiah

Luv you,

Aunt Ken

Bonus pics:

Another pic of Sweet Baby A getting all the hands on attention from his eager cousins 🥰😂

Family Nativity; Take One

One of Emily’s friends is overseas for the holidays and her support team asked Em to come up with something for one of the 12 days of Christmas.
We kicked a number of ideas around, but eventually settled on an attempt at a nativity scene-babies and puppies included.

What a joke!

We barely were able to get my dad out of the combine seat in time for the pics, so Joseph is a little unsure about his role in all this.

Juls German Shepherd, Dora was frantic that her puppies were in inside the house without her and she kept jumping on the front door, so the German Shepherds were protesting loudly.

The American Shepherds had no idea what was going on, so the one sat in stunned silence while the redhead added his voice to the din-ready to tell the world what he was experiencing.

The angel flitted here and there and the wisewomen rushed back and forth bearing gifts and roadmaps.

The onlookers (aka photographer and videographer) tried to give helpful advice.

And thru it all Mary and Baby Jesus stayed calm and serene.

In the mayhem, I just shook my head.

But then it hit me. There are so many points in our little family skit that made this real to life.
Here we are- made up of drama and brokenness and uncertainty; distracted occasionally by the wolf at the door; but still earnestly seeking to capture that Perfect Peace.

What a reason to celebrate that precious gift ❤️ THE Prince of Peace

Merry Christmas,

Kendra for the entire family

Bonus Pics:

If you have 5 minutes and think I was exaggerating that this process was chaotic: watch The nativity video here

We had the most gorgeous snow recently including the chance to explore it in the mountains. Now this is the type of winter I could get excited about 🥰

And finally- my new favorite pic:

Mary’s Side of the Story

She’d always liked the quiet mornings before the sun came up. The world was still mostly asleep and it felt like she could do her best thinking then.

She shook her head as she pondered the events of her last year. The beautiful proposal, the famous engagement party/ all things a girl dreams about. Her fiancé was a good man and she was so excited about her future. And thankful- only God could have brought them together.

But then there was a dramatic change of events. Suddenly everything she’d stood for was in question. Her family knew first. She would never forget the shocked look for hurt and betrayal that passed between her parents “wait, what? Didn’t we teach you better than that?” Her mom had cried over how the family reputation would be marred and although she’d tried to explain there was no use. Her current condition spoke for itself.

Talking it over with her fiancé had been far worse. The look in his eyes and the wall that instantly went up left no question what this was doing to his heart. He left quickly after mumbling that he needed “to sleep on this.” She hadn’t slept at all wondering what would become of her. Would he hand her over to the local authorities? The law was clear what was to happen to a single girl in her condition. She wept with relief when he came the next day and promised to love and protect her regardless. She could tell by his face-he knew and believed the truth.

But the rest of the world didn’t know. And everywhere she went she could feel the rumors and accusations. Her peers growing up, the elders at the town square, the neighbor ladies down the street all assumed they knew the truth. Her ears burned when the conversation died as she approached. What should’ve been the most anticipated year of her life flew past in a muddle of pain. Who believed that it was possible to be “with child” before your wedding without committing sin?

Now here they were-far from home in cave outside of town with a perfect baby boy. Sheltered away from it all. She knew she couldn’t change what had happened. She knew she couldn’t fight the stories. She knew she couldn’t dwell on things that were out of her control. So she chose to lay that down and focus on her blessings at hand.

Suddenly her reverie was interrupted by the sound of men approaching. “Honey!” She said with a feeling of alarm “I think there’s someone at the gate”

He hurried to meet the band of men approaching and she watched intently. What would he say? Would he try to explain/justify their current situation?

But he didn’t. He just opened the gate and they came straight in.

They surrounded the manger and she couldn’t believe it as those weathered farmers reverently stroked the face of her Son. “The Messiah our Lord. The Promised One” they said over and over. Finally her fiancé spoke “How did you know? How did you find us?”

Immediately they all talked over each other telling the story of the angel’s visit. A lone angel announced the Christ-child’s birth and then an entire chorus filled the sky praising God. It sounded frightening and yet magnificent.

And with that visit something changed.

She noticed the change immediately the next time they went into town for supplies. Gone was the dark looks of judgment. In its place were looks of curiosity and longing. Could this Child be the Key to the Deliverance everyone wished for? Those farmers had told the details of the angels visit far and wide. She didn’t need to defend her reputation. The Truth won.

Mary kept these things and pondered them in her heart.

Mary’s case was unique in that she wasn’t guilty. She hadn’t made a mistake. God sending His Son to the world thru her was a miracle and the events surrounding Jesus’s birth was surreal.

And yet I think there’s a bit of Mary in each of our experiences: less than ideal circumstances create opportunities for the rumor mill to fly. The truth is silent and pain level is high.

I’m challenged by that this Christmas season. Live above the rumors. The truth wins in the end.

I came across this quote from Matthew Henry after a robbery and it challenges me:

“Let me be thankful, first, because he never robbed me before; second, because although he took my purse, he did not take my life; third, because although he took all I possessed, it was not much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed.”

Be encouraged-no matter how tough things are-when you find yourself on the wrong side of community news: truth wins in the end.


Bonus Pics:

Recently there was a German Christmas Market at a farm outside our sleepy town. I’ve been missing all the Christmas get-togethers this year, so it was extra fun.

Mother said it really felt like a German experience. The day we visited the weather was damp and overcast. All the children were bundled up like Eskimos.

Although we had varied ideas of what the “authentic German Brats and sauerkraut” would be- the experience will definitely be one for the books. Also the fact that the truck was run by a deaf man added to the uniqueness of the environment.

Last weekend’s meteor shower was another one for the books. A number of my cousins brought their families and we enjoyed catching up out-of-doors since there will be no large family gathering this Christmas. And the meteors were exquisite.

And last but not least- every photo session of my nephews from here until who knows when:

Good thing Alexander is “tough like Daddy” 🥰 my little guys 💙

Report on the AirBarknBark by the Head of Security 🐶

To our friends scattered to and fro:

It’s me again, Detroit Snapbarker Mendoza. Have you missed me? It’s been forever since I’ve written. In fact- the last time you heard from me was when I received a Purple Heart during harvest by getting several toes amputated. Read that dramatic tale here Dog Tales: Part 2- Literally Chewed Up 🐾 Ugh that was a low point. Sorry to leave you wondering how I was surviving for so long.

Well anyhow I’m here to report that I am. Surviving that is. And busier than usual. And to be honest now that I’m minus on the toes, it takes the joy out of writing. You ought to try typing one time without all of your fingers. Miz.er.able!

It’s no small job to be in charge of border patrol at our farm in Singers Glen. No sir. My assistant Rolo and I take our job very seriously and stage ingenious barking attacks on every farmer who.even.considers to work in the fields bordering our farm. Day and night we are vigilant with our surveillance duties.

Anyhow. So obviously the family around here didn’t think that was enough responsibility. Because next thing I knew- they were working down at the pond. I’d slide down to check on progress, take my daily swim and nose around a bit.

Fascinating. I must say that it was only because of my perseverance that this place finally got up and running. They are quite excited about “Pondside Paradise” as they call it. More on that here Legit cabin fever

And it has been a lot of fun. But guess what happens whenever they host a pond party? Somebody has to do the sniff test on every single vehicle. And do you think the family even thought of that? Rolo and I have a pretty good system worked out. But man it’s tough.

And then they opened this thing up on AirBnB. I have no idea what that stands for. Because I haven’t seen anybody arriving in the air. They just drive in the lane. But my assistant and I have the BnB part down to a science (Bark n Bark).

Again we had to develop a careful strategy on the deal but I think we’re getting it perfected. It goes like this:

Just kidding. Did you really think I was going to divulge our battle plan on a public space?

I will say this: we’ve loved our Airbnb guests. The family doesn’t often meet them, so it’s up to the assistant and I to represent the whole 9 yards and we take this very seriously. We don’t stay long, but just long enough to get bragged on and our ears scratched.

We’ve witnessed some pretty cool stuff: families watching the stars by the campfire; people enjoying a break from busy city life. One couple even came from the U.K. and caught a fish “straightway” they said in the funniest accent. Also got in on this: (I guess they noticed my missing toes and didn’t trust me to take pics of this big event 🤷🏻‍♀️)

See the little glow to the left of the pic? This couple brought their own lights along. It looked great and made us fit into our neighborhood a bit better 😅😂

And it jump started the Christmas spirit.

We had so much fun bringing some Christmas cheer to the place. But you know what they say?

“But the prettiest sight to see is the Holly that will be on your own front door.”

I’ve never been called “Holly” before but that’s the song I heard playing as I supervised the festivities right outside the front door 💁🏻‍♀️

Come see us when you get the chance. I promise to go easy on my interrogations.

Merry Christmas,

“Holly” Seasonal code name for Detroit Snappenbarker Mendoza, Head of the Singers Glen Security Division

Happy Birthday, Father

Today is the birthday of one of my best friends.

But he’s more than just a best friend. He’s my boss, occasional partner in crime. He’s the constant that I can always count on to listen and give me sound advice.

His random sense of humor keeps life interesting. His unending energy and work drive keeps me scrambling. He’s shown me by example of what it means to be a godly man.

My father. My hero

For his birthday this year, we ran down the pics from his home on the Mason Dixon Line. I transferred them into a photo book and we waited expectantly til he got home from trucking to open the mysterious package.

Someone did a really good job at capturing life on their farm and family in the 60s.

My dad was the youngest of 4-the only boy. The captions in this family album made me chuckle.

Apparently he got a new hat when he was 3 which merited a photo shoot. Such a cutie. I’m reminded again of how much he and Em look alike.

Today we celebrate you FP (short for Father Precious as Jul calls him) I’m so thankful you were born.

Thanks for everything you do for us. We love you,