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!


Like Father/ Like Daughter

Dear Health Journal: Well it happened again- the second Sunday night in a row. I went to Julia’s and she served the most amazing bbq chicken cream cheese dip. By the time I got home, I had that same intense burning in my rib cage. It curled around to my back to where I couldn’t lay down//I couldn’t sit up. I finally moved to the spare bed and tossed and turned and cried out to God to take me Home. (Apparently Ben woke up to hear this desperate prayer and apparently that’s an unsettling prayer for a husband to overhear 🤷🏻‍♀️) I finally got to sleep about 3 am after I got sick on my stomach for awhile…

My dad called to check on me the next day and his voice was edged with worry “Kendra! What’s going on? Ben says you had a really rough night?”

My poor family- they’re so supportive and caring and I don’t know what I’d do without them…

“Yehhhh, I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I don’t think I have the flu, but I got really sick in the middle of the night. Maybe I ate too many tums?”

And at that moment the lightbulb turned on. “Wait! Intense burning! Tums!! Sick on your stomach! Kendra!!! Have they checked your gallbladder? Thats exactly what I dealt with for 15 years until I ended up in the hospital and they removed it!!!”

Could it be?

God had ordained that I had a CT scan set up for the next day as a 3 month check up on the lung with the blood clot (all clear, PtL) and I spent Monday afternoon talking to my doctor and getting an ultrasound added to the testing I was going in for.

And wouldn’t you know, both the CT and ultrasound pointed out a sick gallbladder.

It all makes sense now. I’m scared to hope that this is what I’ve been fighting since May. When you google the list of foods to avoid if your gallbladder is acting up- you will find the list of foods you can eat if you’re in the middle of an ulcerative colitis flare. No wonder I’ve been struggling over here 🤦🏻‍♀️

The surgery wasn’t that big of a deal. I’m pretty sore, but the surgeon said “basically you’re being stabbed 5 times” so I guess soreness isn’t a shock. 😂

He spoils me ❤️

So anyhow, this Thanksgiving week looks a bit different than I was expecting it to look. But as I chill here in the LaZboy, my heart is overwhelmed once again with thankfulness.

Nurses on duty 🥰

God cares so much about little details that He even planned our family Thanksgiving a week early so that I could enjoy that precious time with my family.

Thank you all for praying for me. God answers prayers, and I’m so thankful.



I always look forward to the Holidays. This year because we’re needing to work around my sister’s inlaw schedules which fall over both Thanksgiving and Christmas, we got a jump start in the holidays. And what a time we’ve had 🙂

In a lot of ways, our weekend really spelled out Thanksgiving:

T for Turkey! Nate was in charge of smoking the turkey and I don’t know what all secret Cajun butter potions he added, but it was a success. The year I was born, the neighbors invited my dad over for Thanksgiving because mother and I were still in the hospital, and no turkey has equaled that one in my dads mind, until now. Great job, Nate 💪🏼

H for Harvest! Today was the end of Harvest ‘22. I can’t believe how little I contributed to this years efforts 🤔 but if you zoom in on the pic, you will notice my replacements being trained in. Grandfather bravely headed to the field with his 3 oldest grandsons and they spent a number of hours of quality time. So so thankful to have everything safety harvested.

A for Aunt! Can’t say enough how much I love this role.

N for Nate and Deb’s visit! This weekend was spent 100% with family and it was such a gift.

K for Kids! Em said that she spent the entire weekend either cuddling the babies or wrestling the wildcats and loving every minute of it. Agreed 100%

S for Sunday Lunch! My parents gave us a wooden extension table as a wedding gift and it arrived last week. Sunday, my family came to help break it in. As I set the table, I realized that other than the tablecloth, the entire setup was gifts from friends and family. Makes me a little teary eyed thinking about it.

G for Gifts! Julia definitely won the prize for the most originally wrapped gift for our family gift exchange.

I saiah’s Goldmine 😂 Earlier this month, Isaiah was helping me combine a field beside a ball park, and we halted harvest long enough to collect about a dozen softballs from the field. Best day ever.

V enison! Ben harvested a buck on his grandad’s farm. Em stuffed and smoked one of the loin for our family dinner and it was 👌🏼

I for Infants. Seriously, my heart can’t handle these two 💙💖

Nephews 💙💙💙 best of friends/worst of enemies. Terrific Twos is a delightful age- I can’t get enough.

G for Guns. A certain Aunt Em bought the boys rubber band guns for Christmas, and the rest of the weekend was marked by rubber bands sailing to and fro. Fortunately for those of us who are unarmed- the marksman are terrible aim at this point. On the pic above, someone suggested that they shoot the ducks in the picture, and everyone around suddenly felt like they were sitting ducks 😂

Thanksgiving the expression of gratitude, especially to God.

Weeks like this bring gratitude to the the forefront, where it should be always… Thank you, Jesus

Happy Thanksgiving!


🚜 Never Say Never Part 2 💚💛

I don’t remember the year, (probably around ‘04 or ‘05) but I can take you to the exact field where I was running the combine and the Bagger was running the graincart . Two neighbor guys showed up to ride and get in on the fun. The one guy I’d never seen before, but his brother-in-law was somebody everyone knew. They hung out with the graincart for awhile and then Mr Benjamin Rohrer climbed up in the cab with me.

We small talked about this and that and somehow we started in on the age old debate. Ben hasn’t been an unwavering John Deere man and apparently this fact needed to be voiced. I’m not a mechanic, but I grew up with a strong opinion and deep loyalty for Green paint. And so the friendly banter continued. I’ll never forget what he said. “Well maybe y’all get along good with the bigger John Deere tractors, I don’t have experience with them. But I do have experience with my Dad’s little John Deere and let me tell you- the small John Deere tractors are JUNK!”

And he got on his Agco and sailed off into the sunset.

A year or so ago I wrote a blog about all the bold statements I made about chicken farming.

Never say Never can be found here. I hated/was scared to death of chickens and made some very bold statements about never marrying a chicken farmer/having anything to do with poultry.

Well here we are- I take a break from walking through our beautiful chickens to wave at my husband as he sails past on the farm’s newest addition. He’s grinning from ear to ear.

I bet God smiled when He heard our lighthearted conversation all those years ago, and thought “just you wait”.

I know everyone shakes their heads and says “Never say Never”, but I highly encourage you. In fact I dare you! Say “Never”. In our case, “Never” is working out really, really good.

Isn’t it incredible, how God leads?



Bonus Pics:

People have been so sweet in encouraging me at random times when I really need it. Monday morning, a sweet neighbor dropped off the perfect meal for a rainy day.

And another friend sent me this adorable box from https://heartfeltgiftbox.com/ I’m amazed at the lift their thoughtfulness gave me ❤️ bless you, ladies!

Favorite Fall Photos

Hebrews 10:23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.

Before this morning’s rain set in, I enjoyed this God moment… God keeps His Promises and sends such beautiful reminders…

After a 20 day solo reign as Queen of the Chicken Kingdom, the King has returned and here’s a dusty selfie to prove it. ❤️ We survived!

I didn’t make it to the mountains to enjoy the beauty this year, but somehow the beauty made it to me.

There’s no place like Paradise Lane❤️

Misty Morning Views from my castle

“I have wiped out your transgressions like a thick cloud, And your sins like a heavy mist.
Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.” Isaiah 44:22

This fall is reminding me again of the Goodness of God. He is Faithful.

Praise Him


Highs and Lows

“Aunt Ken?! You, you feel bedder?” My nephews ask me this almost every time they see me. And every time they manage to sneak Mama’s phone and send a WhatsApp message.

It melts me and breaks my heart at the same time. Highs and Lows. I love it that they care, I hate it that I’m still limping along.

My writings feel like they’re kind of in the same slump- rotating around the next doctors report. Waiting for something to change. Lows because I’m not very patient and want to snap my fingers and be moved past this part of my story. Highs- because God is in His mercy has gifted me so much.

Today as I meandered in our little lane, it hit me all over again, what a gift this life is. I’ve spent a lot of time the last little while just trying to get my head above the waters. Today I want to give you a brief photo tour of the current highs and lows I’m processing 🙂

Today marks Day 13 since our Main Farmer left the Farm in my underskilled care. I was pretty nervous about this, but I’m having a blast. (Don’t tell Ben though, because I do hope he comes home soon.)

The birds are growing like crazy and it’s an incredible process to watch. They love to perch wherever they can. (Highs)

I’m not alone on this process. Em got out of bed early every single day while she didn’t have birds to come and help me. Mother’s filled in different times too. Ben’s brother Clarence swings by the farm often to double check my ventilation settings, etc. (Highs)

Basically as soon as Ben walked out the door, an intruder snuck in through a passage in the cinder block footers, and we lost a few birds to the varmit. So here’s Em and a can of Great Stuff securing the boundaries. (Lows) But it’s definitely slowed him down so I’m very thankful. (High-ish)

I managed a trip to Horseshoe Curve! It’s been months since I felt up to traveling, so a day trip was definitely a High.

Other highs include hearing from my hunter… High on the mountainside in Gibbonsville, Idaho.

Big temperature change but the locals say that’s great for getting animals to move. (low temps and a higher chance of an elk encounter) 🙏🏼

And I’ve enjoyed a number of unique social opportunities during my time as a hunters widow… The annual barn party was a definite HIGHlight

A Ladies Lunch hosted by my cousin Kate while her husband was out of town… in Idaho… hunting elk… Food that was as beautiful as it was delicious ❤️ Another high.

A backyard bonfire with cousins…

Quality Harvest time with two of my favorite little farming enthusiasts.

In a crazy sort of way, triaging my camera roll is good for me. Life doesn’t need to focus only on the things we wish we could change. There’s so much more here. Blessing upon Blessings.

Thank you Jesus, for being constant in the highs and lows of life ❤️


Bonus Pics:

Random travel nugget: I found the History of Horseshoe Curve and WWII very fascinating. There was an attack planned on this main east to west trade route. Hitler sent eight saboteurs to “blend in and, when the opportunity presented itself, to wreak havoc on key industrial sites.” But 2 of the 8 turned on the others and went to the FBI before anything was carried out. 😅

I thiiiiiiiiink this is the last garden update for ‘22…. This zucchini plant produced from the first of July until last week. It sure was worth the money… especially since Julia started it in her greenhouse and gifted it to me 😂💪🏼

No News

My phone rang. The ID announced it was a friend I hadn’t heard from in awhile. “Kendra! How are you? I keep checking your blog, but you haven’t updated.”

It’s true. I’ve been silent for over a month. Basically because there’s not much to say.

“Well at least post and tell us you’re ok!”

Two Sundays ago, our pastor had a last minute change of plans, so the morning service was spent in the Word. Anybody who wanted to could read whatever passage they felt like sharing. Admittedly I cried at the reading of Psalms 103:

2Bless the LORD, my soul, And do not forget any of His benefits;3Who pardons all your guilt, Who heals all your diseases;

A beautiful sunset rainbow reminded me again “God keeps His Promises!”

Anyhow I guess the reality that I’m still waiting on God to touch my body with healing has kept me from posting. There’s not much more to report other than that. My travel calendar has been replaced with doctor appointments and that’s not nearly as fun to write (or read) about. Lol

Recently I went on a radical diet and felt good enough to actually get in on some good Ol living. It’s crazy how quickly things change, so I savored the moments while they lasted. Here’s a few highlights:

I actually got out in the fields for several afternoons. The twins showed up and warmed my heart and filled the cab with their energetic stories. “Aunt Ken! Me riding Unca Ben, jake break ON! BAAAAAA! It hurt my ears!” And they couldn’t wait to head out with the truck again. 😂

We got chickens last week, and I thought I’d surprise the chicken dumping crew with fresh pizza. I accidentally ordered mediums instead of larges. I was feeling really stupid until the manager at Dominoes asked me if I could use more pizza. A large order had just canceled- so at $5/pizza I took them all. 7 pizzas total 🙈 I had great fun farming out pizza the entire lunch hour.

Baby Gideon 💙 Julia curls his hair and he melts my heart.

Another example of heart melt: Julia grew carnations this year and Isaiah came marching up to me with a fistful of these beauties “Parnations!” He announced 🥰

And lastly, Ben left this morning on an Idaho elk hunt and I fixed a “snackle box” for the journey. It needed a punny “hugs and fishes” or “you’re my favorite catch” note with it, but I didn’t want to embarrass him. So I’ll just tell y’all about it lol

Here they are: 1 day and 10 hours of travel ahead of them according to Google Maps. Counting on Ben not being like me with the “no news” month of silence stuff. Safe travels, guys!

To Summarize my thought: It’s hard to “Bless the Lord” when things aren’t going as planned. Admittedly I’m not doing that great at it. I’m convicted about this.

May our hearts be drawn to Bless God this season. He is Able. And He is Enough.


Bonus Pic:

Em was able to go surprise Deb for Alexander’s 2nd birthday. All week long I got pics like this gem. ❤️ Happy Birthday Zanderman!

Always Grateful

“I need to plant more green beans” I commented to Mother in early July.

“Actually, just take scissors and chop back the patch that’s done producing” she said “I cut mine at the first joint, and dusted and fertilized it good, and depending on the year, they’ll regrow and yield again.”

So I bravely chopped and chewed thru my greenbean patch. I felt bad. They were my friends. Eagerly I’d watched them grow and we’d collected bountifully off of their first fruits. The canning shelves in the basement spoke loudly of this.

But I hardened my heart and pruned away. Leaving a very sad looking state of affairs in my wake, I moved on to other aspects of my garden.

Last week, as I was doing garden inventory, I noticed my green beans. Closer inspection verified that I was asleep at the wheel, and had almost let my beans get ahead of me.

What a blessing those pruned green beans are! Regardless of the challenging season they experienced, they got right back to producing bountifully.

But the pruning season is hard.

I have not been the most gracious recently. The harvest crew hit the fields without me and my brain thinks I need to be putting the hammerdown, while my body cries for rest and my list of injustices is fairly lengthy.

Until in a God Moment, a friend gave me a “get well” bag of goodies, which contained a little plaque “always grateful.”

Suddenly I’m seeing how short I’ve fallen in the grateful department. Always Grateful? Not really 😬🥺

So I’m looking at life differently: I’m alive. Each day, I’m gaining ground. I’ve got a job with the flexibility to take off until I’m better (bless my husband and family for covering for me and making this possible.) The mailbox full of medical bills means that I received incredible care. We’re part of a sharing group that will help offset those costs. My freezer is full of meals thanks to the most caring community… Blessing upon blessings…

Why was I grouchy, again?

Even Walmart knew I needed a lesson in expressing gratefulness. I ordered a box of 50 thank you cards, and they shipped me 12 boxes by mistake.

Oh God, forgive me for resisting this season of pruning.

There’s so much to be thankful for.


Bonus Pics:

Em put an old canoe in her front flowerbed and it’s something to see!

I saw these pop bottle turtles on line and the boys were very impressed with this surprise. Also 2 year olds attempting to say “turtle” is my new favorite thing 😂❤️

Labor Day weekend brought the best company ❤️

If our family get-togethers could be summed up in one pic… 😂❤️

Miss Maria and Baby Gid… crazy what a 3 month age difference can look like 😂❤️

The 3 musketeers and the bearded uncles… and a snack of carrot sticks and chips leftover from a harvest lunch 😂 quality family time

A short visit, but very very sweet ❤️

Kendra Zinniaseed

The twins have their own way of communicating.

We sit down for a meal “Me prayer” says Isaiah “apple tree, pear tree”

At this point, Julia has to interpret. Somewhere along the line, the boys were with cousins who taught them the Johnny Appleseed prayer song. And they’ve wanted to sing it for every meal since.

I remember their mama being super fascinated by Johnny Appleseed as well, so you might say the apple didn’t fall far from the tree- lol.

John Chapman was born in 1774 in New England and became known as “Johnny Appleseed” after he took a canoe full of seeds that he’d picked up at a cider mill and headed west to sell them to settlers trying to tame western PA, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Ontario and West Virginia. He ended up doing more trading than selling, and often planted trees along the way, so that people coming later would have orchards already started.

Thanks GFA Federal Credit Union Blog for this pic

He wore a tin can hat, coffee-sack cloak, and no shoes. And was very proactive in reading scripture to whatever settlers he came across.

One song that he supposedly sang is the Swedenborgian hymn. And many sing the first verse before meals to as a prayer. (Especially when the twins are there.)

The Johnny Appleseed song

Oh, the Lord’s been good to me. And so I thank the Lord
For giving me the things I need:
The sun, the rain and the appleseed; Oh, the Lord’s been good to me.
Oh, and every seed I sow
Will grow into a tree.
And someday there’ll be apples there For everyone in the world to share. Oh, the Lord is good to me.
Oh, here I am ‘neath the blue, blue sky Doing as I please.
Singing with my feathered friends Humming with the bees.
I wake up every day,
As happy as can be,
Because I know that with His care My apple trees, they will still be there. The Lord’s been good to me.
I wake up every day
As happy as can be,
Because I know the Lord is there Watchin’ over all my friends and me The Lord is good to me.

I love zinnias. They give me all the cheery summertime feels. They’re perfect for a quick bouquet, they’re perfect in the garden. Everywhere they add just little more sunshine.

Last winter, when I was on a quest for a small favor for our wedding, I came across seed packets. Perfect for a March wedding. Aaaaand if I filled them myself, it wouldn’t break the bank. But what flower is the best option? It was a no brainer: zinnias 🥰

“Let Love Grow”

Since then, I’ve absolutely loved watching to see where these little beauties show up.

The row in my garden was partly started by Julia, and the rest were a gift from my 93 year old grandmother. The butterflies love them.

My aunt took me to her garden to show me hers. Perfection.

My sweet friend, Lucy sent me weekly snaps updating the zinnia progress.

The twins caught the bouquet bug and insisted they have multiple bouquets on their little work table.

But then last week, zinnia bouquets rolled in from all over. I received 5 of them to be exact. Ben’s Aunt handed me one “Let Love Grow” she said with a chuckle. If this wasn’t an example of Ecc 11:1 Cast your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will find it again.

I have no plans of filling a canoe with zinnia seeds and heading west. I’m not going to start wearing a tin hat so that I can cook out of it if needs be, I’m definitely not going to go barefoot. But I do hope that my life scatters a zinnia fields worth of sunshine. 🙏🏼 If the past several weeks have reminded me of anything- it’s that I need to make today count- life really is fragile/uncertain.

Let Love Grow!

Kendra Zinniaseed

Bonus Pic:

My favorite kind of recovery support team.

Em found a pile of leatherback mushrooms in the mountain last week, so we spent some time making/canning mushroom soup at the recommendation of a friend. VERY excited about this project.

And last but not least- found this one from the Baby Gid Photoshoot and it melts my heart 💙

Gideon Swope 💙

Wednesday, August 17, was a beautiful morning. Admittedly my memories are a bit hazy because of the health crisis I detailed last post.

But my angel mother arrived on the scene to before 7, and spent the first part of the morning caring for me.

“I’m supposed to watch the twins at 11, because Julia has a doctors appointment or something.” she said “If we tell them that Aunt Ken is sick and they aren’t allowed to do the ‘flying squirrel’ on you, I think you’d be fine to come with me. It’s not a great idea for you to be home by yourself in this shape.”

*Side note- the “Flying Squirrel” is a move created by certain 2 year olds where you get on the couch and run; launching yourself horizontally into whichever unsuspecting victim is sitting closest. Line your launch up to where even if they don’t see you coming, they take most of the impact, leaving you to scamper off and prepare for another round. Apparently it’s a blast 🧐

So I was slowly, painfully making my way to the car, when Mother’s phone rang: I could only pick up snippets of the conversation, but I caught “Boy” instantly I was on high alert.

“We have a little boy, Gideon Swope Showalter.”

What a precious gift. 💙

Gideon means “great warrior.” Swope was my Pappy Reuben’s middle name, same as HIS Granddads. so it’s been a family name for generations.

I was trying to find a verse for my new little buddy and I found it- direct words that the Angel spoke to Gideon in Judges 6. “When the angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon, he said, “The LORD is with you, mighty warrior.”

Stand for truth, show mercy, live uprightly, and the Lord will be with you, and you will be mighty, Littlest bud 💙 I’m praying this for you.

As soon as I was discharged from the hospital, we headed out to meet him. The newborn stage is so precious.

So this is where I’m spending a lot of time resting; the best medicine.

Aunt Em came and we attempted to get a few pics before we blink twice and Mr Gid is running with the wild Indians…

Julia is such a beautiful boy mom 💙💙💙

Welcome to the family, Little Buddy. You are so loved 💙💙💙

Aunt Ken, again 🥰