The Third Day

After years of tagging along on our hunting trips, our girls finally turned 10 and became hunters themselves. After years of exposure and their recent hunter’s safety certification, they were feeling more than ready when we made the long trip to Minnesota for their first hunt.

We arrived with our bags of gear, cases of guns and hearts fluttering in anticipation for this long-awaited moment with our girls. The cold November air and dusting of snow hinted at the coming of winter. Rifles slung over our shoulders and hot cocoa sloshing in our packs, we paired off into two elevated deer stands on Grandpa and Grandma’s farm - one near the corn field and the other closer to the forest’s edge.

We glassed attentively and patiently in all directions until sundown, sadly failing to spot a single deer. That same scenario repeated itself our second night out.

Disappointment is a real part of hunting, we reasoned. (As much for our sakes as for the childrens’.)

Nothing seemed different as we trekked out the third night, but not long into our hunt we were charged up to see deer - several of them! It wasn’t long before one of our daughters took her first shot - with Grandpa’s help - and downed a doe feeding at the edge of the field below our stand. Shortly after, I took my first shot and hit a deer below our stand on the other side.

(It is amazing to me that when a deer gets shot, the others will often just keep eating. I yell silently, “run away, you idiots!!”)

Then we heard a gunshot from the other stand about 200 yards away. Communicating via text, we learned our other daughter had gotten her first deer with Dad’s help. We could stop right there and this would be a night for the recordbooks!! But one more shot was taken by Dad, making an even four does - one for each of us. As for the girls and I, we each shot our very first deer all on that same night!!

I have to admit, I’m not a fan of the gutting process. The girls each received a hands-on experience gutting their own deer that night, but without a word Tim and his dad gutted the other two without requiring my help. I was helpful in the sense of holding the flashlight, moving the truck, words of encouragement and even admiration, but no more was asked of me. Thank God for Dads and Grandpas.

(Note: many amazing women do gut their own deer, my own daughters included, and wow! For now, I’m in the category of “I’d rather not if I don’t have to.” Plus, who else is going to hold the flashlight?)

After the blood and guts were disposed of in the field and the meat was hanging, we made our way home to where Grandma was waiting with a warm, hearty, well-earned dinner. The dismal foreshadowing of the first two nights made the triumph of the third night all the more glorious when it came - a rich sense of mutual fulfillment none of us will ever forget!

Oh what a night!

Oh what a night!

Living a Dream

For several years we have dreamed of taking an extended east-coast motorhome trip. As a homeschooling family, the idea of "road-schooling" for a season excited us, but the pieces never seemed to come together for this dream to become a reality.

Earlier this year, however, we found ourselves in a unique season of transition between places. As we laid out a multitude of strategies, the idea of our motorhome trip kept emerging. MANY conversations later, the decision was made and we felt this time had been presented to us in the form of a gift.

As I type this post on the other side of our amazing adventure, I am still in humble gratitude for how it all unfolded. Rather than taking time to post on the road, we deliberately minimized time on our phones and computers (except for work, of course). So here I am, many months and 33 states later, going through photos and documenting our trip of a lifetime.

We started in Idaho and made our way back 33 states later. Follow me: Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Washington, D.C., Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine. Breathe. Now back down. This time hitting West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, and Kansas. And last, north through Montana and North Dakota on our way to Minnesota. Then back home. Whew!

We experienced so much richness on this trip in our relationships with each other as our hearts awakened together as explorers and students learning the rich history of our blessed nation. I know our situation was unique to be able to take this trip, and I am so grateful. 

There is a beautiful world out there to explore and learning history is so much better in person than through the written words and pictures of others (although those are valuable too). The way our minds are free to think driving out on the open road is astounding, and the bonds forged out of our normal routines and surroundings are priceless. 

Pretty soon, hunting season will begin and we will enjoy our traditions of venturing into the wilderness together. But this motorhome trip was a different kind of hunting: hunting for beauty, heritage, history, culture, adventure and so much more.

A gift. 

True Success

We just got back home from our annual hunting trip to northern Minnesota. We went earlier in the season this year and the fall leaves were stunning! This was also the first trip that we hunted in tree stands with our girls, now 8 years old. It was quite a trek up the ladder in our bulky hunting gear, but my heart settled back down the moment we got their safety harness clipped onto the tree strap!

Hunting from a tree stand was definitely an upgrade for our girls this year in their hunting experience! Hunting from a ground blind has given us amazing opportunities to see deer up VERY close, but there's nothing like being able to sit out in the fresh air and scenery, taking it all in. 



It's confession time: I have never actually shot an animal. 

There, it's out. I feel liberated.

Last year I got my first shot and missed a nice doe; this year I got my second shot and missed a little buck. Apparently, I need to practice shooting more throughout the year, not just in the days and weeks prior to a hunting trip. Despite the fact I've never put any meat on the table for our family, I love the stories from both of these shooting experiences. (Yes, I am making a goal for myself to practice shooting year round month :))

Last year, we were all huddled into our ground blind and I was wondering what yardage I should set my bow at. The number 32 seemed right, so that's what I set it at. Not long after, a nice doe stepped out of the woods and Tim ranged it for me: 32. There was no doubt in my mind that was my deer, so I stood up, positioned, and shot. The doe lunged forward, then towards us, not knowing what just happened. It was a clean miss, thankfully. I just couldn't get over celebrating the fact that I had my bow set exactly to where that doe would be! 

This year, on our first night out, Tim got my daughter and I settled into the best tree stand on his parents' property. (Yes, Tim gave me that privilege because he is so excited for me to get my first deer - sweet guy!) A yearling doe came out within a few yards, walked right under and grazed behind us for a while. A few others came out, and then a nice little 2-point buck 36 yards away.

I slowly stood up, but couldn't get my feet positioned correctly because we were forward-facing on the narrow tree stand platform, but the buck was to my right. I got the range finder put away, twisted my torso to the right and took my shot. He bounded back into the woods that he had just come out from. It was so exciting! I felt sure I hit him and both my daughter and I were celebrating! I texted Tim that we must go find him right away, and he replied that we must wait until dusk. 

I put the champagne away and we got settled back down. We saw several more deer and I was drawn back to shoot a doe when Tim came walking up the path and scared it away. Yes, I was feeling like Rambo. I figured I'd just shoot a deer for everyone in the family and get our tags filled that first night!

I was all but dancing down that ladder, hoping the deer didn't travel too far back into the woods. Looking for a blood trail, we found my arrow - as clean as could be - stuck in the ground. It must have went right over that buck and explains the huffing I heard from the woods. That whole ending didn't go as I had planned in my head.

This is where a quote from The Lego Movie seems appropriate.

"I think I heard a whoosh." - Emmet, The Lego Movie

Every deer I have shot at so far has only heard a whoosh. I probably get excited and shoot too fast, they tell me, but sadly this is the second year in a row that I've had the same outcome: fun stories, but no deer.

Yet I did come home from this trip feeling richly satisfied! Our time visiting with Tim's parents was so meaningful, and our time hunting together as a family filled my tank right up as always. I love the outdoors: breathing in the clean air, observing the scurrying squirrels, listening to leaves rustling in the breeze, gazing at the sunset over corn fields, PEACE. To sit in that tree stand for hours with nowhere to go and nothing to do but just enjoy, appreciate and ponder - that is abundant life to me!

Someday I hope to tell the story of getting my first deer! But for today, I am smiling in wonder as I reflect in gratitude on the times we have gotten out into nature together as a family, eyes wide open, senses alert. And for those of you to whom this is a completely anti-climactical ending, please be comforted knowing that Grandpa did get a beautiful tom turkey that night!

His Eye is on the Sparrow

This morning we took our regular morning trail down down to the Boise River. I walk or run with our dogs and the girls ride their bikes. It's always a great way to start our day!

This morning, however, turned out to be of the extra-special sort!

One of our girls came upon a wounded bird that couldn't fly. She was holding it in her hands when I reached her and it was squawking and scared. I asked her to hand it to me, still squawking and still scared, got it cupped in my hands and spoke "In Jesus' Name..." Instantly at the name of Jesus the bird stopped squawking and relaxed. Wow. Then I continued, "I release healing to this bird's body and command every part that is wounded to be made whole." At that point my other daughter asked to hold the bird, so I handed it off to her and led her in speaking our commission to this bird: "In Jesus' name, fly away healthy and strong." Then she opened her hands and released the bird into the air. We watched in wonder as the bird flew up into the air, across the river, and high into the trees on the other side. 

There was no other response than to praise God in that moment! We were shouting and whooping with excitement! As we celebrated this great event for the remainder of our trek, our girls expressed awe that we came upon the bird at the exact moment we did, able to do God's will and bring Heaven to Earth for this little creature. This came to mind:

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.
— Matthew 10:29-31

There is a little more to this story. It was less than a month ago that our girls prayed and cared for an injured mourning dove that they retrieved from the mouth of one of our labradors, only to experience the bird die in their hands an hour later. That disappointment was very real as they lovingly prepared a resting place for the dove and mourned the loss that day. We have a choice to let disappointment define our expectations for the future, or continue to keep our hope in God's Word as higher truth than our circumstances. How appropriate that a short time later we encountered a similar situation to challenge us in this area - would we react in faith and hope or fear of further disappointment? 

I hope this testimony brings you encouragement! God cares for all of His creatures and you are of much more worth than this bird that was healed in an instant by Jesus today! Do not let disappointment stop you from taking God at His Word. Speak to your circumstances to line up with God's Word, rather than interpreting His Word based on your circumstances. Let faith arise and increase your expectations with hope for your future. Disappointments are only trials we face along the way that make us stronger as we persevere. When we face trials and disappointment, let us place the words of David as a banner over our life and circumstances: 

Unexpected workout buddy

Unexpected workout buddy

Worship the Creator

We just enjoyed a week-long Summer Family Bible Conference in Woodland Park, Colorado. On the way back to the airport, we visited the Denver Botanic Gardens. As we were admiring the beautiful landscape and breathing deeply to take in the heavenly aroma, I realized sadly that many people who come here praise nature itself, and not the God who created it all. This Scripture came to mind:

They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator - who is forever praised. Amen.
— Romans 1:25

As I was pondering these things, I found my way to one single rock amidst the vast landscape with a Scripture praising our Creator for His Creation! This rock made my day! My heart resonated with praise to my Creator and remembrance of Jesus' words to the Pharisees that even the rocks will cry out (Luke 19:40)! And the fact that there are still places where He is acknowledged and praised makes me smile from deep inside of my heart. This is what the rock proclaimed:

O LORD, how manifold are thy works! In wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches.
— Psalm 104:24 KJV

Then a prayer below it read:

Father Almighty, wonderful Lord, 
Wondrous Creator, be ever adored; 
         Wonders of nature
         sing praises to You,
Wonder of wonders - 
                         I may praise too!


The stones crying out...

The stones crying out...

Backyard Camping

Isn't Spring amazing? Especially if your winters are cold like ours in Idaho, there's nothing like the excitement of warming weather and life emerging from the winter freeze. One Sunday afternoon this Spring we spontaneously decided to camp in our back yard. It was all good until the sun went down and we realized we may have jumped the gun camping in a mesh summer tent through a 40-degree night. 

Snuggled deep into our zero-degree sleeping bags, we were in absolute wonder at the symphony of frogs croaking throughout the night. We had never heard anything so pleasantly noisy and even took a video to try to capture the music. Added to that were coyotes howling and leaves rustling in the breeze throughout the night. The sounds of the outdoors are majestic! In our back yard that night, we felt like we were deep in the wilderness on a great big adventure... until the Monday morning commuter traffic started buzzing by our house.

One month later, the night low rose up to 50-degrees, totally doable, so we invited a couple of families to join us. We enjoyed hot dogs and s'mores over the campfire with friends, and a heavenly shower at home the very next morning :)

Throw Perfect out the Window

One fall we enjoyed a long hunting trip at Tim's parents' property in northern Minnesota. This is a great way to hunt as a family because it is private land and they have an amazing permanent ground blind set up at the edge of the woods that we can all squeeze into.

After a wonderful 2 weeks of hunting and family fun, we packed up the motorhome and were all set to leave at 3am the following morning. All was going well as we got the motorhome warmed up & transitioned the kids from their bed in the house to their bed in the motorhome. With coffees in hand and a satisfied air of strategic brilliance, we only had to load up the dogs and head out.

This is where perfect flew out the window. Our trip was delayed 20 minutes as Tim cleaned up an extravagant mess of diarrhea from the dogs' room in the garage. That delay aside, our minds were immediately processing the prospect of a 20 hour drive with dogs in this condition. Not long into our trip, we discovered it was our black lab, Camper, who had the problem. I was continuously jolted into clean-up action as our sick dog lost control of himself - again. It was awful... nauseating... not funny at all...

Until later. 

Towards the end of the trip it hit me: this is the trip we will be talking about for years. We will look back and laugh hilariously as we consider the ordeal we went through. We plan our best, but sometimes things go all wrong. There is always risk to adventure - that's what makes it an adventure! The point is to enjoy the journey - all of it. And even if you can't laugh in the moment, take heart knowing that someday you will!

To bring closure to this story, we have evidence to suggest that Camper got into some rat poison, being the skilled scavenger that he is. He suffered for days to the point of not being able to move at all, but through our prayers and God's goodness, our cherished dog recovered and is back to normal (albeit about 15 pounds lighter than he was before, which, according to the vet, is a good thing).

Road-trip ready

Road-trip ready

Common Ground

Our families are blessed when we find common ground in doing things that inspire us all. Of course we will each have our own interests, but in every way possible we seek things to do together as a family. Rather than driving the kids to their activities and then leaving them so that we can go do ours, we desire to intentionally break down some of these barriers and focus more time on things we enjoy doing together as a family.

In our family, Tim was raised to love hunting. When I met Tim, I had never done anything more than shoot a gun with my Grandpa in North Dakota a couple of times. But I was raised to love wildlife and the outdoors, so right there we had some perfect common ground! I started tagging along with Tim on his hunting trips and really enjoyed the experience of being out in nature. It wasn't until years later that I decided to become a hunter myself, and now it is a privilege to raise our children with this heritage.

There is something thrilling about sharing our passions with our children. I enjoy wake boarding, and remember when our girls were about 4, I had my wakeboard sitting in the bow of the boat. They stood up on it with both arms out and the wind in their hair, pretending they were wake boarding like Mommy as we were cruising around. My heart was overflowing! (I'm still trying to get Tim to share this joy of mine, but so far he only enjoys driving the boat :))

We are on this journey together.

We are on this journey together.

Frog Hunting

As always, I am amazed by nature and love to see our kids interacting with anything they can get their hands on. With a pond in our back yard, hunting frogs has become one of our favorite pastimes. Have you ever looked at a frog up close? They are amazing little creatures and friendly enough for the kids to enjoy playing with before being released back into their habitat. Recently I read something about frogs that amazed me:

“How do frogs survive winter? Antifreeze! True enough, ice crystals form in such places as the body cavity and bladder and under the skin, but a high concentration of glucose in the frog’s vital organs prevents freezing. A partially frozen frog will stop breathing, and its heart will stop beating. It will appear quite dead. But when the hibernaculum warms up above freezing, the frog’s frozen portions will thaw, and its heart and lungs resume activity—there really is such a thing as the living dead!”

Friends for a day!

Friends for a day!




Every yes requires a no...

There will always be more work to get done, more activities to sign up for, more media to consume. As a family, we are constantly learning that every yes requires a no to something else. How we prioritize our life is the result of many choices we make daily about how we spend our precious time. 

I struggle against being too task-oriented. I think I'll get around to the fun stuff when all my work is done. As we know, the work is never all done. So I'm constantly growing in becoming intentional about planning fun and free time into every day (seems paradoxical, I know). 

Try this: stop what you are doing and look into the face of your little one (if you don't have one handy, borrow someone else's). Doesn't that little face just excite you for some fun? To act like a kid, even if just for a few minutes? 

As parents, we provide what our kids need. They're looking at us to learn how to be an adult. Yet in some ways they have what we need. We need to look at them and remember how to be like a child.

In Mark 10 Jesus said,

"Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not enter the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it."

That's worth pausing to consider!

Yes to this!

Yes to this!

Planting for the Future

Parenting is like farming. We are planting seeds in our kids today that will produce a harvest in the future.

As parents, we are leaders. Every day we are influencing our children by the example we live before them. It’s not about being perfect, but about being intentional.

Will we be proud to see our children grow up to be the kind of adults we have modeled for them? Will we be pleased when they marry spouses who treat them as we have treated each other?

It is a privilege to partner with God in giving our children hope for their future. It is God who placed our children in our care, and it is He who supplies us with everything we need to raise them brilliantly.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
— Jeremiah 29:11

Farming with Dad