2for30: Cross the Canyon off my mom’s bucket list

Several years ago as I was embarking on a fairly outstanding journey ( read about that here: 10,000 Reasons ), my mom left me with these parting words “Enjoy it for me, I would LOVE to hike the Canyon, but I’ll never get that chance.”

Fast forward about a 1 year- I’m not even sure what brought up it up, but somehow the discussion turned to the Canyon again and  again Mother said “I would LOVE to hike the Canyon, but I’ll never have the chance.” So I said “if you are serious, lets set a date and go hike it.”

Plans kinda evolved and here we are almost a 2 years since that first conversation. Kerry and Emily, my parents and I flew across the US to meet Deborah and her CO friend Nate.

What a time we’ve had, traveling hammer-down 7 of us jammed in a minivan, surviving spring break traffic, 15 degree temps and a snowstorm, and just enjoying being together. We sure miss Julia and Sherman!


The snow was gorgeous and I can’t help but be excited every time I get a chance to travel on historic Route 66.

I thought maybe the snow would enamor us at the Canyon, but it quit several miles before we made it to the rim, but the Canyon didn’t need the snow to be breathtaking, I’d forgotten. Wow.


We hiked the South Kaibab Trail. We took our time and just enjoyed the view and the experience in the clear morning air. As always, I can’t comprehend how huge this place really is. And in typical fashion, we took lots and lots of pics to properly capture the event.

Eventually we made it to Ooh Aah point, which lived up to its name. Wow! Wow! Wow! There was still so much to see, but we made the informed decision to start the trek back up the hill. Slow and steady. We still had many things to cross off the itinerary before the day was  done.


Look closely-you can see people snaking back and forth along the canyon wall on the trail.

Kerry became “Pippi Longstocking the Thing Finder”, and spied a backpack down off the trail a little ways, so Nate the Mountain Goat scrambled down side of the cliff and returned with the treasure. Proper investigation came up with the name and contact info of the backpacks owner, as well as prescription sunglasses and a huge ring of keys- so once we scaled the side, a phone call made the owner’s day- he was ecstatic with the thought of the return of everything. And probably the heroic efforts of our guys, got his son (who had kicked the backpack over the edge) back in his daddy’s will. 🙂


And so quickly it was over, and we had to take a victory pic. What fun! Family is the best gift ever.

The Grand Canyon brings out a lot of similar emotions as the ocean does. It’s so completely mammoth and mysterious, it’s hard to wrap your mind around. Yet it’s an amazing challenge to try to understand and discover. And to just stand on the edge with hands upraised and worship the God who not only provides for the little squirrel basking in the sun way off in some distant crevasse, but cares about me to the point the hairs of my head are numbered. Wow. With that kind of a Guidance Manager-why would I worry?

Blessings to you, as He provides for you too,


P.S I’m trying to decide if I’m going to let Mother read this quote from John Wesley Powell:

You can not see the Canyon in just one view, as if it were a changeless spectacle from which a curtain might be lifted, but to see it, you have to toil from month to month through its labryniths.

Well, we tried. But sounds like the quest has just begun 😉

Bonus Pics:

Random pics from along the way. The scenery is so fascinating. Father looks at the miles of rocks and says “I could take my track hoe and work all my life and not make an acre of this farmable.” And yet so many people thrive. And horses. So many wild horses.

The Venetian was a resort Deb heard about. It came complete with canals and gondolas and a shopping mall all on the 3rd floor. We wandered around and got rather lost before we piled in the van again and left.

1for30: Mini Garden Mania

Julia came home from a trip with her in-laws and made this announcement: “Juanita and I think it’d be fun to get the cousins together and make mini gardens.”

I’ll be honest- I really knew nothing about mini or fairy gardens. So the research began. Sherman even bought Julia book on fairy gardens for Valentines Day. She was all inspired and found 21 red clay mushrooms on Amazon for $.79 total and free shipping. So she made a big purchase.

Suddenly I realized that if I didn’t get inspired- my garden was going to be practically a “graveyard of buried hopes” (thanks Anne of Green Gables) So- I started looking up ideas and chatting about it with the people I was traveling with- my many trips to Lancaster these days provided lots of opportunities for “the quest”. Juanita spearheaded the project and so we all knew that all plans needed to be in place by March 26.

Obviously the first thing we needed was a container and a theme. I had bought a cute little stucco house in Nicaragua and I found a wash tub/planter. But then I picked up a table and chairs and came to the sad realization that my house was smaller than my table. Ooops. So I spent a lot of time trying to plan out my garden in my mind- where things weren’t so out of proportion. And it wasn’t until the morning of- as I was discovering I was running out of time- that the solution hit me. Typical

First stop on our day was the greenhouse of my mom’s green-thumbed cousin-in-law. Wow and what a stop that was! Anne had piles of succulents and cacti and lots of wonderful advice- we left with the trunk full. We ran down to Millmont to finish the quest and then returned to where the fun began.


It was getting close to lunch- but we spread all of our scenes out and had a blast finally seeing everything take place. And I’m not sure any of us wanted to take a lunch break. 🙂 We filled our containers with pea gravel, then the charcoal product the professional recommend, the moss also advised and lastly, potting soil.

A game plan is really important here- and I know I still did some replanting whenever this plant needed to be moved here or there. Plants went in first, then the path, and fences and last the little extras. Julia made a bunch of little wooden benches and chairs. Juanita provided picket fences.

We had a wonderful supervisor team too 🙂 When they saw how many plants we had, they voted that we had WAY too many for the amount of containers we had- so Plans B and C were implemented, and more containers showed up 🙂 The thing that’s fun about a mini garden is that any container works. So we ranged from a piece off an old tree to a tea kettle, a honey dish, and a goblet. The best thing about working as a group is, there were so many more people to exclaim over each new production. I know I’m sounding like I’m raving- but we had so.much.fun!!

We laughed at how our personalities came out in our gardens. Some of us spent a bit more money than others. Some had perfectly neat paths, while some… Let’s just say that quite obviously VDOT was not planning my roads. Conrad’s wife Sarah had some sort of salt clay that she’d molded, then baked and painted. So she created the sunflower scene. God know what He’s doing when He handed out talents, if I were capable of such things, I’d be out of control.

Julia also had a Nica house. She made this one for a friend- be sure and notice her bike parked by the door 🙂 Meanwhile, I’m obsessing over my chickens 🙂 I loved the fact that Anne had the plant called “hen and chicks” How appropriate is that?

And my solution to my quandary: Layers. I found the bottom to an old clay pot, and added that to my scene. I wanted the house to seem like it was back a ways from the table scene and I think this helps with that feel. A little ladder works for the neighbors to visit, and Julia donated a mini bike to the cause. (Also notice the broom by the front door 😉 )


So here we are with several of the 26 created 🙂 Would I recommend this? Absolutely! But do it with a couple friends. 🙂 Ideas, plants, advice, cheering over some perfect discovery- creating memories that will long outlive these little planters; It’s meant to be shared!

Easter blessings,


Bonus Pic:

I had two social events this weekend where my newfound bunny friends added to the occasion. Who wouldn’t want to eat soup with this little guy watching every move? 🙂



Rock Removal

The latest adventure around here, was the purchase of “Windy Hollow Farm” in Singers Glen. “Windy Hollow” is a Century Family Farm, which means that it’s been in the same family for over 100 years. The original family kept the old house and barn and part of one pasture, so their heritage remains intact. We are so excited to fall in love with a place that has loved so well. .


With the warm breezes sweeping across the Valley, it was the perfect chance to start prepping the land for spring planting 2016. Father had his “high hoe” whipping in the wind: clearing out fence rows, taking down trees, digging out rocks…


View from back yard, happy high hoe operator in the back ground


While most of the land requires very little TLC before planting season, there is a handful of rock breaks. So, Father dug them out, and my job was to tear back and forth with the Bobcat skidloader delivering the uprooted objects to a gigantic hole created especially to house these offending rocks.

So tear I did! Back and forth, back and forth.


Father had a head start on me and it seemed like that part of an acre stretched on and on. Meanwhile, I bravely rocketed back and forth. But my mind was as busy as my skidloader. I tried to distract myself envisioning that I were a coal miner, but these thought kept showing up…

“Really what is the advantage here? Wouldn’t it be just as easy to leave these rocks here happily sticking their heads out of the earth, and just farm carefully around them? The way this is working, we are getting the big rocks out, but we are creating a million smaller rocks that will have to be dealt with too… ”

As I was rapidly heading for the depths of despair, Father came over with his hungry machine and started sorting out rocks for me. With him sorting, and me hauling, things picked up speed and progress went into overdrive. The sun shone again and the happy miner whistled as she worked.

My dad -with all of his farming experience- definitely knows best. It will be so much easier to have smooth sailing, rather than picking around a rock break or two, when it comes to harvest time!

There’s an moral to this tale: Sometimes there are things in my life that seem easier to just “farm around”. Sure, the end result would be much of an improvement- but it would take SO MUCH work to get there… So I just let it go. Or eventually things come down to a great earth moving, and I work by myself and feel so frustrated. But when I allow God to work with me- fighting whatever battle I’m in- THEN the break through happens and things look so much brighter…


Are you farming around rocks in your life? Allow God to work with you- it’s much much easier than trying on your own…



Bonus Pic:

The first of many pics of this pond 🙂


Lifting those Arms

There are things about being the bossy oldest sister that are not too glamorous, but some things I do take very seriously. I feel like it is very much my job to hound my little sister about updating her blog. I listen to her enthusiastic stories and try to encourage her “write about it” I listen to her busy life and try to nag her “write about it” and finally today, she turned the tables on me and reminded me “you promised you would blog for me when you came to visit, but you didn’t.” And so,here goes, a combination article from two sisters one in VA and and one Nicaragua. (follow more of Deborah’s adventures at daysofdebi.wordpress.com )

Last weekend at the OBMM annual meeting, I became reacquainted with the story “Two men, One mission” In summary, two brothers grew up in the beautiful Michigan farmland. Both married, and by about 1912, the one couple felt called to Africa. The other couple felt called to stay home and sacrifice to support their family on the foreign field. The only stipulation was that no one knew. So for years, everyone watched the thriving mission in Africa, and speculated what could be wrong with the brother at home- why his buildings were in ill repair, why he didn’t fertilize his crops (I won’t comment on how much more $$ growing crops at maximum potential makes you) and basically misjudging the brother at home. Eventually, a lion took the life of the African brother but many lives were touched because both families sacrificed.

Romans 10:14-15 How then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!
Sometimes it’s easy for me to think “Well, I’m not on the foreign field, what I’m doing is so insignificant” But these verses make me aware of how important it is to be the life line from the home front. Are you sent or are you a sender?

There was a fight between the Amalekites and Israel once upon a time, but before they even showed up, Moses had a battle plan in place “tomorrow I will stand on the hill with the staff of God in my hands” and we are familiar with the story- while his hands were raised, Israel won, but once his weary arms sagged to his sides, the Amalekites would gain ground. So two men came along beside him and held his arms in the air and Israel won.

So how is the best way to hold someone’s arms in the air? There have been so many creative ways that people have been an encouragement:


Communication: Email, cards, snap chats, boxes, whatever- which of us doesn’t appreciate random words of affirmation? Sometimes I’m guilty of assuming our missionaries on the foreign field are so busy and encouraged by the Lord, that they don’t need to hear from me.( I think this might be a false teaching 🙂 The Holy Spirit is the Great Encourager, but that doesn’t let the rest of us off the hook!)
Along with that- craft ideas and supplies: Children’s Church and kids clubs happen quite regularly. And more than that, the frequent visit of children just stopping by to get away from their home situation. Different times, a complete craft idea will show up, or a stamping set including paper, ink stamps and colored pencils. This takes the work out of researching that next project 🙂

Clothing: Sewing Circle and different ladies from our home area have carried the torch to send children’s outfits to Nicaragua. Children’s Church is well represented with the labor of love from these ladies.

Funds: People have been so generous with Deb. She has a stash of money “just waiting” for the right time. While nothing is gained by handing out random money- in fact a lot is hindered- there are dire needs. The girl that cleans the church there lost her father several years ago, and because her mother is of poor health, she (at 14) is responsible to provide for herself. Recently the nose piece fell off her glasses and she is worrying how she will find the $179 to replace them… God provides.


Most importantly- Prayer: “I cannot tell you how important the prayer support behind a mission is! I was blessed again the other night with how amazing God is! His timing is perfect! We had went into Managua for the afternoon, and were getting home a little later then usual, around 11:30. The reality that the last time I got home at this hour, a robber awaited me,made me extra nervous. However, this time I wasn’t alone, Genessa was with me! We got home and there was a man sitting on his motorcycle waiting in the street right in front of the house. Gen was a little apprehensive about getting out of the truck with him right there, but we had to put the truck in the courtyard and get ourselves inside! I pulled up and shone my lights around to ensure there was no one else waiting in the shadows behind the stairs, and backed up to try to decide what we should do. I mean, you can’t just tell someone in the street, “Hey, I’m not comfortable with you watching me pull into my garage, can you please leave?” As we were there thinking about what would be the safest thing to do, Nathan Miller pulled around the corner in the other mission vehicle! Their family had been away as well, and they were returning at the exact same time as we did! (If that’s not the hand of God, I don’t know what is!) When Gen got out to open the gates, the man got off his bike and came over and asked to talk to her. She didn’t really respond, and as we pulled in, we shut the doors ASAP, and let Nathan go out to talk to him. He had some story about wanting translation work, but we had to wonder why he would be waiting for us to get home at 11:30 to ask for work? We are praising the Lord it ended the way it did, God obviously had everything planned out perfectly! Thank you once again for praying for our safety, I do not want to live in fear. Our God can protect me, and it is a breach of trust if I place my security in people, or things. So please pray that I can rest in Him, and not let myself give into feelings of fear!” -deb

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind”

‘I want my friends to pray for me,

To hold me up on wings of faith

That I may walk the narrow way,

Kept by our Father’s glorious grace

…I need the prayers of those I love’

-James D Vaughan

Bless you, for ministering. There are so many opportunities to come beside someone and “Encourage each other daily, while it is still ‘today’ .” Deborah and her beautiful Nicaragua are not the only outlet for that. There are brave souls fighting the good fight all over the world. There are people being faithful at home- what do I know about the local Kids Club? Or when was the last time somebody volunteered to help with our prison ministry?

May we all be ready to work- where ever He’s placed us. But most of all- Please pray. The battle belongs to the Lord!

Blessings to you,

Kendra and Deborah

Listen to My Heart

So here we are living in a city of 200,000 people, innumerable stray dogs and cats, an entire army of horses… And on this beautiful Sunday morning- I knew I heard cows- I stuck my head out the window and watched in amazement as traffic stopped and this herd moooved into town… There is so much agriculture represented in the city here- I wonder how many loads of bales you see driving through the streets of New York City… (Is this peanut straw? Be sure and notice the workers on the back of the load) 🙂

Recently I’ve been mourning the Tower of Babel. Ah,those arrogant, unrealistic people! What did they think would happen when they tried to elevate themselves by accomplishing such a feat… This entire language barrier is really really frustrating! But then I comfort myself with the fact that God knows no language barrier. So I ask him to listen to my heart.

I love the “verse of the day” option on my phone- this week it threw a curve ball into my “listen to my heart” thoughts: “And the Lord says: ‘These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules that they have been taught.'” Is 29:13

Wow… It’s way too easy for me to “say the right thing” when I don’t always feel that inside. So this week, as I sit and listen to a Spanish conversation, and try to follow along with my LIMITED understanding and all the hand motions that go along with a conversation, (bless you ladies, when you pause mid conversation to catch me up on what going on- I know it’s a pain) sometimes, I take a detour  from the subject at hand and ponder what my heart is really saying…

I realize that being arrogant and unrealistic is not just an Old Testament problem. It’s way to easy to decide to complete something in my own strength, only to watch it crash down around me. Sadly, on my own, my heart would build a Tower to the Heavens way too often… So it’s good to stop and make sure that everything within me is glorifying the One who made me…

May the words of my mouth AND the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, My God and My Redeemer…


Bonus pics:

I was afraid this was gonna happen- but Nicaragua has firmly captured my heart. Last week was a good week, where I felt like we “got down to business” switching from the entertain the company mode to real life here. Thanks for including me, Deb- I’m loving this.

A few things on my heart:

We spent an hour in prison yesterday. The group from Malpisillo goes in every month and invited us along. As we walked back to the conference room, the hall was lined with huge iron doors, that gave the appearance of cages, with prisoners peering out right beside us. They filled me in briefly with a few statics- the prison there houses around 500. The cells usually have between 4-8 beds and between 30-4O occupants- so there are hammocks strung all over. The families provide a lot for the inmates- clothing, food… The one cell even had a huge pinata… Again as I got lost in the Spanish during our service, I looked out over the sea of faces…and wondered what choices had led up to these consequences…


Dear ladies from Sewing Circle- recognize these? The word is out that there are new dresses here, and I’m amazed at how many girls have requested them. It’s so much fun to bring them up to Deb’s house and bring out the options and read their expressions as they try to decide which dress they like best… And often, they ask for a bag to take their old clothes home, and leave wearing a brand new dress. What beautiful little princesses.


Deb has had a hacking cough since before Thanksgiving… And so we went to get her lungs X-rayed. Apparently they taped the machine together and took the X-rays “really fast”. The Dr said she was fine, but her cough appears to have missed that memo and isn’t leaving 😦 So that’s a prayer request…


Karina and Brayan come and clean the church. Their story is a sad one- their dad died 5 (?) years ago leaving a wife and several children. The wife has severe diabetes, and can hardly work, so at 13, Karina does what she can. Brayan’s birthday was this week, and they stopped by, so I asked how they were celebrating. “There is no money” She asked Deb if she could borrow an egg- in keeping with the Nica tradition of breaking an egg on the birthday persons head. Deb attempted to do the honors, but somehow Brayan moved his head to the side, and the egg shattered on the ground. He ran off gleefully.

Children’s Church started again this week. So many little people with so much potential. The energy level during the singing practically oozed out the church windows. Deb said that they were exceptionally well behaved-really? She taught the youngest class and we had coloring puzzles with the Nativity scene. The little guy pictured loved yellow- so other than giving Joseph blue hair, the stable, the Baby, Mary- everything turned yellow.. 🙂 And the little napper- apparently this is a recurring issue- her dad is friendly with the bottle, and every classtime, she sleeps- they assume she doesn’t get much sleep at home… Dear child… She was sleeping soundly too- we tried to wake her- while all the rest of the children offered advice “tickle her under the chin like this”

My parents left on Tuesday. After dropping them off at the airport, we took our tissues and headed the 5 minutes to the CAM base and had lunch with some friends there. The lady schoolteachers live in the upper story of the warehouse, and as I looked out out the kitchen window- the scenery consisted of warehouse activity and very familiar-looking,brown, food parcel boxes. I’ve had different opportunities to be involved with bagging rice and beans and dried strawberries and powdered milk at the CAM warehouse in PA. It was great to see this step of the process too!

Deb lives on the second story and there’s so much to see! The power lines right outside the window make for difficult pics.. But in the small median out front, a man has a bike taxi shop. It’s built out of cardboard, and it looks like business is booming. The bikes sometimes swallow most of the street, and they sit on our sidewalk a lot. Directly across from us, is a school. Every night, the same man brings these two lawn mowers in and turns them loose on ground maintenance. The amount of horse traffic here is incredible- they go by, night (like 3:30 with no lights whatsoever) and day- usually looking dead on their feet, pulling a monstrous load…


Second grade is now in session and going well from what I gather 🙂 I love to pop into their classroom while I have the chance! 

Bucket List: Hike a Volcano

Ever since I’ve had a bucket list, hiking a volcano has been on it. Different times, we’ve came so close to striking it off. But it remained.

Monday, Dec 28, I had the privilege of marking it off with help most of my family. And it was everything I’d imagined, except we didn’t roast marshmallows over red hot lava, and no tennis shoes got melted… But still.

We got up early and left before the sun rise. Floppy was our fearless guide, and my parents rode inside the pickup, solving world issues with him, while we Horst gals, and Mr W enjoyed the world from the back of the truck.



We observed all sorts of different birds (No, I didn’t actually call every bird I saw a parakeet, Emily ) the sweet smell of  something- maybe a yellow flowering tree that was everywhere? We were fascinated by the farmers we met along the well worn trail with their teams and loads of fire wood. The air was cool and refreshing and invigorating. Hallelujah.

We payed our admittance fee, and our “guide” told us a few things about Cerro Negro. Google helped fill in the rest of the details.

This was the youngest volcano born in 1850 in the central Marrabious Range. The last time it erupted was in 1999, and it sent a column of ash 7 kilometers high, and pulses of lava fountains 300 m in the air! They say that pay-loaders were brought into Leon (25 miles away) to remove the 3 feet of ash from the streets. I can only imagine the mess this caused in all the houses with their open windows… But no lives were lost.DSC_0942

I will be the first to admit that this heat, combined with all the festivities of the holidays, has me in not the best hiking conditions. But we all took our time, picking our way through the bazillion of small lava rock carefully.


Wow! I was completely fascinated by the way you could see how the mountain flowed out into the valley below. The fact that the bulge down in the center of the mountain continues to grow, insinuates that the history of this place is far from over.


And we all made it! Father pulled out his “heart history” card, proving that even with his stint, there he was.


The wind felt like it was going to whip us right off the top of the mountain, but it felt amazing. Occasionally, we would get a really bad sulfury smell, and the ground was really warm at some places.


And then it was time for the descent. It was the most incredible feeling ever. We floated straight down the side of the volcano. Whenever I’d look ahead and see how steep it was, I’d think “its fine here, but a little further ahead, it gets so steep! There’s no way I can walk down that without dying.” But one step at a time, and soon I’d be to the steep part and realize it was no worse than where I’d just been. (Pretty sure there’s all kinds of spiritual analogies in that one!) But there we went, one big step and then, you’d stop in the small pebbly ash. I wonder it that is how it’d be to walk on the moon.


(To put this pic into perspective, notice the mission truck to the left. It really was straight down. Was it friction or gravity that held us there- I’m not really sure)

Upon reaching the bottom, we all celebrated by praising the Lord, taking a few more pics (I think the men in our group were just about done with pictures) and emptying half the mountainside out of our shoes.


It really was amazing!

Does the road ahead of you look too steep to conquer? One step at a time, my friend, and you may find that once your there, its not as bad as you imagined. If you just trust, and continue on… It’s amazing!



Bonus pics:


We spent a really fun afternoon at the Pacific Ocean, jumping waves, watching the sunset, exploring the gardens of an old bombed out hotel, and taking just a few more pics. 🙂


Kerry changed into relaxed clothes as soon as church was over and did an impromtu basketball camp. It was adorbs watching the children’s faces as they tried to make a basket with their human hoop. 🙂





Letter to the Bride

Wedding bells rang on Paradise Lane Yesterday. The sun shone and the corn leaves rustled gently in the breezes and the sisters shed a tear as Emily and Kerry promised to “love and cherish from this moment”.

We felt the hand of God as thunderstorms came up and went north and south of us. And like the sky lanterns we released into the evening air- thrilling, but fleeting- everything went rapidly and was soon a memory as the couple headed out Paradise Lane as Mr and Mrs…

I’m excited to have another brother and I look forward to continuing my friendship with this beautiful lady I call my “little sis”.

I wrote this poem for one of Em’s bridal showers.

With Credit to Danielle Nedick who wrote the original “Just yesterday” and apologies to Aunt Janet ( and all of you poets) for when my heart throb doesn’t have perfect rhythm and meter…


I cant’ believe this season is here

How and when did time disappear?

I’m a first grader handing out your pic to my class

“She looks like you” they say

How long ago could that’ve been?

Wasn’t that yesterday?


Childhood times were busy indeed

Exploring Paradise Mountain

with a four wheeler as our steed

Pool parties, back yard wigwams and that renovated shack

Seems like only yesterday


You made me grow up fast- I must say

At least one medical emergency each time our parents went away

But I got my first ambulance ride out of the deal- Yesterday.


PR, PA, NYC and West the voicemail “I’ve been everywhere”

Bahamas, Outer Banks, Florida and Travel “Truth or dare”

Travelling buddies- we quickly became

When I needed a co-pilot just mention your name

Excitement of yesterday


Farmers daughters truly we are

Day after Day in the field…

Trying to break the record of acres/day

Or the best soybean yield…

That WAS only yesterday


So many memories floating along

Sharing with others through the gift of song

Caroling at UVA or by the campfire-

Gifts do not stop at that

I can’t exclude the delightful writings of the masked muskrat

Quality times of yesterday


A sister is a blessing beyond compare

We’ve been accused of being a pack

But I love to know my family is my friend

We have each other’s back!

Today and Yesterday

So now here we are

Different yet still the same

I’m excited to see what God has for you

Remember to call His name


And I love KJ- gaining brothers is fun

Don’t let “girls only” comments be a deceiver

I pray your home will be a light to the world



So thank you for all the memories

I treasure each one in my heart

As time moves on new ones will form

But the old will never depart.

Love you, Em and take good care of her, Kerry!


Bonus Pics:







Things the Farm Manager Ponders… Deep things… Like Birthdays and Such

There are a few things that’s tough for this ol farm dog to understand. A few- most things I get completely… But… Here goes:

Watermelon: What does that sound like? Something red with seeds all through it? Ummm…. Break that down a little- Water. This brings to mind that amazing swimming hole that Kendra constructed just for us, (She calls it her “water garden” of all original names) and planted all kinds of flowers around. Even turns on the waterfalls occasionally for our swimming pleasure. It’s awesome. So thoughtful of her. I don’t get why she yells every time she catches us drying off on the edge- the water lilies really look a lot happier after we’ve stirred them up a bit… That’s water. Has nothing to do with a juicy fruit. Name it something that applies- like- “green and red thing that grows during the summer” That makes more sense.

Ok next thing- A sheepsfoot. We don’t have sheep around here. I sure wish we did tho- we could have a blast herding those mindless critters… But alas… So last week I overheard Emily telling Kendra and I quote “Jeanette was here running the sheepsfoot today.”  My ears pricked up and a shiver started at my tail and ran the whole way to my neck. Sheep?! Here?! And so I snuck around the corner with nervous anticipation (I did a stealth mission because I didn’t dare notify my assistants until I had properly established what was going on..) And what do you think my eyes should behold? Well if you remember last Sept the place around here was alive with excitement because a silo collapsed? Anyhow the guys have been slaving away getting a spot ready for a trench. And there was Jeanette rolling back and forth on what looked like a motorized bicycle on steroids.  It was no more of a sheep than I am a trackhoe. My heart gave a disappointed lurch and fell to the depths of despair and I went to deal with the tragedy under the shadow of the clothes on the clothes line and mourn the unfairness of life…


And here’s another one- a lightning bug. (I really can’t tell the difference between them and fire flies. Both names are equally confusing…) What about a little critter blundering through the air with a blinking light is fire or lightening… I wish I could understand. Oh the deep things I ponder as I’m out on the back forty on night patrol… If I could understand that name- then I’d ponder a butterfly- but really- my brain is smoldering the way it is- better not overload a genius- or it’s hard on his intelligence.

But what really got me going is-birthdays. I get the day you are born idea. It happens to everyone. And there’s a day to die. But there’s no way to be born once a year. And always the same day whether the person is around or not. Last year- We all went out into the puppy palace and put on our best camera smile for Deb who was not around. Happy day to be born.


This year the prep started early- with a project that involved a bunch of Deb’s friends. There were a bunch of butterfly patches that were sent out to be signed by her support group. I watched through the back door anxiously. My sweet but simple assistant- Rolo- was all bestewed about what she was going to write. I’d hear her out practicing sometimes. “Your gracious ways are surely missed around here- How do you spell gracious?”… I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I was suspicious that they’d forgot to include us in the project… Ummm Hello- we are a fan club all in ourselves.  It sure was a load off of my mind when Laura’s patch rolled in with our names shining beautifully from the one wing. Thank you, Dear Laura, for remembering the important canines. and way to include us, Horst family..  (Editor’s note- bless all you who contributed to the project!)


Now this year- I thought maybe last year’s photo shoot was adequate. But no- next thing I know- here they come with these little cutsie “Happy birthday” signs. I’m usually really suspicious of such things- but I was in a good mood and figured I’d humor the situation. Happy Birthday, Deborah.. Birthday Happy, Deborah. Birthday Deborah Happy. We tried all the options until we settled on which pose we liked best…

But really- there’s no reason to over think this thing. If we are going to celebrate a birthday once a year- as long as there’s cake and ice cream- Why should I complain? In fact- I’d be ok with cake and ice cream once a month. Or once a week even.. 🙂


Regardless- We miss you . Birthday Happy, Deborah!


Detroit Snappenbarker Mendoza and the rest of the gang

P.S pssst- I haven’t told my posse yet, because I’m not sure how they’d handle the news… But did the spy network let it slip that we may be seeing you within a month? How about some birthday ice cream then too? 🙂

Oh the versatility of a good dog: (the final pics from this series)


W for Watchdog


X for Xhausted


Y for Yawn (photo credit-DLH)


Z for Zealous Agronomists

Bonus Pic:

Father’s sisters (and their husbands 🙂 ) made the trek to VA last Sunday. It was wonderful to see them again and catch up a bit and share a lot of laughter… Bless you!



And what is a normal childhood?

The only thing more fleeting than summer is childhood -Unknown

What do you think of when you think of childhood? Somehow in the art gallery of my mind- summer and childhood pull up the same scenes… Carefree days of running barefoot in our yard chasing butterflies and looking for praying mantis… Watermelon juice running everywhere as we tried to see who could spit the seeds the farthest… Spending hours and hours roaming over the mountain discovering different forms of wild life- birds and animals and flowers- feeling confident that no one had been there before we were… Searching through the grass for four leaf clovers and then rolling onto our backs and watching the white fluffy clouds sailing on the blue sky… Showing up just in time for supper and Mother commenting “look- girls-at how much of this meal we grew ourselves..” Family devotions before we called it a day, and with a kiss and an “I love you” from both of my parents- I’d head up our curved stairway to our room… And all was at peace in the world. Those were good days. It wasn’t all play. We spent hours in the garden or on that old Snapper mower that maxed out at about 2.5 mph. We HAD to wash dishes sometimes and I was pretty sure that was the worst job ever. We learned to spend time in the field helping with harvest several years before we were teens. And while I had big dreams of the world changer that I was gonna become- I loved my life. A normal childhood.

Or so I thought.
Really what is a normal childhood?


This year, we- again- are a Fresh Air Host Family and I am looking at my word pictures through a city kids eyes… Barefoot in grass? Never. Spitting seeds everywhere? Somebody’s bound to get chewed out. Wild life? Well, there are rumors of coyotes in the one graveyard in the City… Four leaf clover searches? Really- you must stay off the grass. Both parents at home at night? Riiiiight… Responsibility? Sure- my mom works from 7a-11p just trying to make ends meet. So I’ve done my own laundry for forever. I make my own meals. I get myself off to school. I take care of myself when I’m home from school… It’s just how it goes…

And so- for a brief 10 days each year- we have a chance to introduce our version of normal. Karen has visited us for 6 consecutive years and as she gets older- our activities have changed from blowing bubbles and catching frogs to shopping trips and sushi parties (I’d never had sushi before- pretty sure this won’t be something I crave..) But the campfires continue. And Mother goes the second mile to make sure there’s plenty of good food around.

And we talk. Karen’s neighborhood is in the process of gentrification and she is concerned what will happen to them when their rent price goes higher than $1300/mo. She continues to aspire with her art talent, and she is preparing a portfolio of her artwork hoping to get into her choice of an upscale art college. She changed her hair color to purple and likes that. Lots of people have blue- but purple is original. And she had to get rid of her dog because her allergies went crazy…

As we chat- my world perspectives gets a little bit larger. I realize again how blessed I am and how much I take for granted. As Mother wisely stated “We thought when we became a host family- we were going to make a huge different for some inner city child. But instead the greater blessing has been ours as we learned to navigate the waters of racism, social prejudices, peer pressure, and basic human needs from another viewpoint. We’ve been forever changed by what we learned from our NYC guests ..”

Because really- it’s not just summer and childhood, life is fleeting. It’s up to us to make the most of every opportunity to share the love of Christ.
Blessing to you as you apply that to your mission field,

Bonus Pic:

Several of my favorite pics from our last little while:

the random cross cultural experience of the week happened when a native from nothern Irag brought us bread that he had made from the wheat we were combining beside his house. He took me in to meet his family and show me the entire process. And sent me home with an entire bagful of the fresh flat bread. What a treat!


the fishing adventure- Karen caught one of the only catches of the eve (and Benilli thought she needed to be involved with the cleaning- silly dog)

DSC_0883 DSC_0945


an landscape sketching session with two very talented ladies-and I shake my head- this is not my gift. at. all.

DSC_0815 IMG_4260


And last but not least- Karen and her coach made a beautiful table runner this week 🙂


P.S special credit to Marj’s adorable children for so delightfully chasing bubbles in the first pics on this post 😉


The Plight of Sarita

Dear Sarita, (name changed to protect the innocent)


Sweet, little, dark-eyed child, You’re on my heart tonight. I guess we technically haven’t met. You sat on my sister’s lap and stared at the computer while we were face timing and I could understand with my limited Spanish that she was explaining to you that I was her sister and that we had a dog. But you were silent.

She told me your story though… Life is so not fair and you remind me of that. Born to a single mom, so poor you didn’t have any food and barely any clothes. Born HIV positive and if that isn’t enough- being tongue-tied to where you can’t talk. Ah little one- why would God allow such hard things? What is your future? Will you ever have a best friend that you can share secrets with? That you can giggle and just be silly girly self? Will you go to school and learn to read and discover a world beyond what you know? Will you give your life to Christ and allow your situation to teach you a compassion that challenges others? Will you be given a chance to live life at all, or will you be released from these hard circumstances while still in your innocence? But if time allows- with the handicap of not being able to speak- What future is there?


And then she told me something else- that generous friends had given her money and that she was hoping to check into your medical needs and the possibility of freeing you- to where you could make the words roll off your tongue instead of coming out in a blob… I hope your little sister makes you as proud as mine does me… I wonder  how much this procedure would cost? This gift of a more normal existence… And I pray for wisdom for those around you- that if it’s right- that you can get help…


Oh, Darling- God does make a way- there is hope. Your silent face on the other side of the screen is one in millions and millions of hurting people. I know that God has a plan for you- just as He does for all of us. And that He will bring it to pass…

Sweet dreams, Dear innocent child- May you feel His loving arms tonight- Kendra