Charcuterie Carry in Celebration

30 years ago today was a big day for me. My parents dropped Julia and I at Uncle Fred’s and we settled in for a stay.

I remember I kept busy out in their new chicken houses and doing whatever a 6 year old does whenever she’s visiting cousins until the call finally came: a girl “Emily Renee” was added to our household. What a gift she is!

We started celebrating early. Em got the idea to host a charcuterie carry in with family and friends. It was amazing!

Google gave me this explanation about the charcuterie rage: “The term “charcuterie” refers to the preparing of cured meats, like prosciutto, bacon, salami, etc., but these days when people say charcuterie, they are usually referring to a fun, meat and cheese board that typically includes cured meats, a variety of cheeses, crackers, nuts, fruits and vegetables, and dipping sauces”

A carry in goes a step further because the sky is the limit. Just bring a platter filled with something. And wow our guests delivered!

As I watched the beautiful and unique boards roll in the door- I thought “there’s no way we’ll eat all this” but the boards emptied surprisingly fast.

Everyone had gone to so much effort and it was so much fun to see the creativity!

A taco board, beautiful fruit platters, dessert boards, traditional charcuteries..

As I wandered down the table trying to soak up the 20+ boards before the crowd descended on them, I couldn’t help but imagine that this is is a small taste of what the Marriage Supper of the Lamb will be like. Did you ever think about what food in Heaven will be? I’m wondering if mushroom soup and gourmet potatoes will be passed away, and we’ll feast on whole foods like we did Thursday eve. Delicious and beautiful.

Pinterest gives unlimited ideas and when I came across a charcuterie house, I couldn’t help myself. Admittedly the pepperonis gave me heart burn because they wanted to slide off the roof, but watching the delight of the children made the extra effort worth it.

We hosted the party at the church/school combo where Sherman’s worship and the twins were so excited to see us “at mine’s church!!!” When I pulled out the olive penguins for my house Isaiah won the quote of the day: “Never me see a bird at mine’s church! Get that bird out of mine’s church!” 😂 What a zealot! 😂❤️

After the food, we moved upstairs to another type of a smorgasbord. Emily has a bunch of musician friends and they entertained us well into the night.

What a unique fun evening!

Celebrating Em is just beginning though. For the last several months I’ve been plotting a treasure hunt for her. I’ll post more on that later, but for now, if you have any good ideas of ways to understand how your sisters brain works-I’m sure she’d appreciate it 😂

Here’s the birthday girl this morning, fresh off of a sleepless 24 hour shift at her fire and rescue job- discovering the hidden treasure in her old barn. One treasure down, a few more to go 😆💪🏼😂 More on this project later 😉

She’s the actual treasure. Happiest of birthdays, Em!

Luv you,


Ice Bells

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play
And mild and sweet their songs repeat
Of peace on Earth, good will to men

And the bells are ringing (peace on Earth)
Like a choir they’re singing (peace on Earth)
In my heart I hear them (peace on Earth)
Peace on Earth, good will to men

I heard about the bells on Christmas Day… thanks to Philip and Myrna. I’d never heard of ice bells before. But apparently they form when the water levels of the creek are high and dropping and the temperatures are cold.


Em and I trudged up and down the banks of Muddy Creek attempting to capture the intricate beauty.

“This is what I love about winter.” I commented “so much of it, I hate. But then there’s these super unique things like this that show up. This is incredible!”

“I have to make myself go outside. Then it’s incredible… but if I just stay inside- I drive myself crazy” Em added.

And then suddenly the bells ceased. Ice still lined the shore, but no bells.

“What makes the difference?” I pondered out loud “Oh wait I get it- the more turbulent the water, the more elaborate and beautiful the bells!!”

“I can hear a blog post coming on” said Em

Isaiah 61:1-3 The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty, instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.

The same Hands that decorated the creek side with this elaborate beauty can take whatever the rough waters are you’re traveling through and exchange it for something beautiful. “A crown of beauty instead of ashes”

Honestly it’s a little hard for me to fathom that God is so powerful that even the hardest things in our lives He can use for good if we surrender it to Him.

So if you find yourself in the rough waters- take courage! Through our difficult experiences, God often equips us for a very specific ministry, if we allow Him to work in us. “Better not Bitter” can be easier said than done. But it’s a blessing to witness this lived out.

And can I just say, to the Ice Bells who’ve impacted my life: Bless you for being vulnerable and allowing your rough waters to become a thing of beauty enough to inspire those around you!

Beauty for Ashes/ Ice bells for Bitter cold… Thank you Jesus!


Bonus Pics:

The birthday train arrived yesterday for these eager 3 year olds 😂 The cake has been a hot topic for weeks. There’s so many possibilities for cakes and so few of birthdays 😂

The delight of a child is so precious. Somehow they were able to keep up their excitement over all of the Christmas AND birthday gifts 😂💪🏼

The Thrill of Hope

I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about hope this Christmas. The following is a version of a quick write up I did for our church’s blog:

I slid out of the shelter of our warm car into the dark night. The cold air hit me in the face. I paused for a brief second and took in the stars in the clear night sky. “Wow!” I thought “when was the last time Ben and I went somewhere on a Sunday night? I’m actually alive again!” And then I hurried to keep up with my husband heading toward the CCA School Gym for their Chorale Program.

The year of 2022 for me has been some incredible highs and some pretty significant lows. Obviously getting married and enjoying settling into a new role has been a high.

My health took a turn in May and I’ve struggled ever since. Finally in November we discovered a misdiagnosis and after a routine gallbladder removal surgery, I feel my old self returning.

I am so excited and thankful!

But as I’m rebounding, I’m looking at the Kendra from a month or two ago and I’m realizing the difference in the despair/hopelessness I was combatting versus now. It sounds dramatic to say I was at a place of “no hope” but we weren’t getting answers and I was thoroughly discouraged.

Hope surges through me- maybe I won’t be stuck in those holding patterns of no energy, pain, and uncertainty, forever. Thank you, Jesus!

So many friends have come beside us during this time and prayed fervently and God has answered those prayers. This season of HOPE is extra meaningful to me.

Hope according to Oxford means “a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.”

And scripture is full of exhortations to hope:

Psalms 42:11 ~Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

Romans 5: 3-4~ Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.

Romans 12:12 ~ Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

Hebrews 11:1 ~ Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

While I’m guessing your list of highs and lows in ‘22 will look differently from mine, I’m sure there are reasons for joy and reasons to long for hope. Whatever your low is, don’t despair. You are not alone. Our loving Heavenly Father wants to walk through it with you and offer you HOPE!

O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining

It is the night of the dear Saviour’s birth

Long lay the world in sin and error pining

Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth



Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!

O night divine, O night when Christ was born

O night, O Holy Night, O night divine!

O night, O Holy Night, O night divine!

Romans 15:13 ~ May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Praising Him,


Bonus Pics:

My Dollar Tree decor reminds me to hope every time I walk through the door. Also it was 0° this morning. We’re hoping for a warmer new year 😂

Merry Christmas from our home to yours! Thanks for tagging along and being interested in our lives ❤️

Go Rest High on That Mountain

The dairy farm that I grew up on was at the foot of “Paradise Mountain“ in a little valley known as “Eden Valley”.

Moving away from that immediate area made me realize that every neighborhood has a mayor. Sometimes that position is self appointed, sometimes it just happens. Eden Valley was no different.

The Shank family has been our neighbors for as long as I can remember. My first definite memory of them was going to supervise the cleanup of a wagon that had rolled during chopping season. (Julia takes time to smile for the press, I’m too focused on the task at hand for such things 😂)

Mr Galen lived smack in the middle of Eden Valley and was the best neighbor you could wish for. If we had a mayor- it was him.

I have so many memories of their trusty Dodge pickups rolling in to move cows to town for us, or hauling load after load of straw to other farmers.

Mr Galen loved to travel and during harvest, we’d spend hours in the field chatting about whatever car tour he’d just been on. Or what part of the West he’d recently explored. I loved his stories of traveling in the Rocky Mountains.

Mr Galen was a true gentle giant. He was the first neighbor that I called when our silo was collapsing (full story Here) I knew that the calamity we were facing was going to require reinforcements. And roll in they did. I love this pic- Mr Galen and Mr Maynard were sighting in the silo’s movement and when it started to shift significantly- they warhooped and Father and his JCB roared off to the sidelines to safety.

At the cleanup the next day, Mr Galen’s dad- Norman wanted to help. So Mr Galen brought a four wheeler, and ice cream sandwiches and his dad was kept busy handing out treats to the volunteers.

But most memories don’t come with pictures. Mr Galen took my dad aside right before Julia’s wedding to address the elephant in the room “Eldon, I feel TERRIBLY sorry for you! You’ve got a big job ahead of you- giving away a daughter is so hard…”

Another conversation he had with Father, as his dad was slowing down after he’d turned 90… “I tell you, I don’t want to live to be that old..”

And today, Mr Galen got his wish.

Go rest high on that mountain
Son your work on earth is done
Go to heaven a-shoutin’
Love for the Father and the Son

We will miss you, friend. Your cheery smile, friendly wave, your sense of humor. You showed us by example of how to be a great neighbor. And your stories will be retold in our family for as long as I’m around.

Thanks for watching our little valley… We will take it from here.


Kendra for the Horst family

A Season Of Joy

To our friends scattered to and fro,

Winter has descended on the Valley leaving the mountains wrapped in an icy blanket. The forecast promises more to come between now and Christmas. 🥶

The smoke curling out of our little ice castle is a new look for Glen Oaks and makes me the happiest queen in the world. I know it’s extra dirty, but a wood stove is such a warm heat.

This is a Christmas season unlike any I’ve ever experienced. I’ve had several van runs scheduled, but each one has gotten cancelled at the last minute so I’m savoring random, impulsive candy making days with the family…

…Decorating my house… I didn’t think I was going to do much, but slowly I’m adding things and it’s so much fun! I was FaceTiming Deb and Maria was VERY interested in the wreath that Julia gave me 😂🥰

… Last minute baby sitting opportunities… (whoever said “there’s always room for one more” never tried to sew with twins) Grammy and I enjoyed a day with the Showalter sons.

…visits with family…

… Social Events… The leaders of our small group hosted an “ugly sweater” party. I safety pinned cheap tinsel from the Dollar Tree onto a sweater I already had 😂

And then there’s Emily 😂 She ordered a musical push button and duck taped it to the back of her sweatshirt. “My outfit is more of a theme” she said. And once the children figured out to push the big red button on her back to make it sing- the rest of the evening was to the tune of “ Grandma got run over by a reindeer”

…s’more calories… I found this recipe on line for S’more Puppy Chow and let’s just say that all the diet plans are off for now 😂 you can find the recipe to join the sugar rush Here

…gifts giving… (My kitchen is smiling with the snowflake potholder crocheted by my Aunt Janet.)

Or not. I absolutely love giving gifts. Typically I spend a lot of time waiting at stores this time of year and as a result I can find excuses to buy gifts a mile high. But this year- several of our family Christmases are over and Ben and I agreed we’d spent enough money on ourselves this year. So the gift buying has ceased.

I was lamenting to Deborah about this and I said “there’s just no joy In Christmas.” She promptly had a fit causing my brain to listen to what my mouth was saying. (Please tell me I’m not the only one who talks without thinking) But I’ve been thinking ever since.

It’s easy to go into autopilot this time of year. I love it all- the family gatherings, alllll the homemade candy, the Christmas mail, the special services…

But it’s good for me to have a completely different December to step back remember exactly what is the Reason for this Season.

2000+ years ago, in the middle of a flurry of people traveling to their hometowns, a very significant Baby was born. I’m so thankful that Christ came to earth as the Promised Messiah; that He lived here and died here; that He rose again and offers us the gift of eternal life. 🤯 And that’s what we celebrate- not finding the perfect gift or the perfect recipe. I needed this reminder.

So if you need me- I’ll probably be sitting by the woodstove inhaling s’more puppy chow and reflecting on THE BEST GIFT we could ever be given.

He’s where the JOY is!