December 31, 2010

Highlights from 2010 - Goals for 2011's almost 2011 already?!? It seems that 2010 flew by so fast! There were so many things that I enjoyed about this year, and I can't wait to see what 2011 holds!

Some of the highlights of my year were:

- Our family starting a home based business (small scale farming)
- Hippology Contest (Hippology is the study of horses)
- Starting this blog!
- Cowgirl Queen Contest
- My friend returning from Africa
- County Fair
- Co-leading a Bright Lights group in our area
- Turning 16
- Participating in Iowa 4-H Camera Corps
- ...and much, much more!

Once again it's that time of year to sit down with a notebook and pen and write out all of our goals for the upcoming year. Do you ever notice that those goals all seem great, and you are excited about doing them...for the first week? Well, this year my goal it to complete these goals, not just hope that they will eventually get done sometime when I feel like it.

- Read the Bible daily
- Keep a journal of the things that stand out to me
- Work on memorization every day (right now I'm working on Colossians 3)

- Have Misty ready for Sarah to show in the performance classes at the County Fair
- Get Flash in shape for showing (a couple local shows and Cowgirl Queen Contest)
- Work on getting Flash to take her right lead

- Read several small-scale farming books
- Learn about pastured pork and how that could fit into our farm
- Learn how to weld (my dad said he'd teach me if I'd like to learn!)

- Train for and run a 5k race
- Figure out a weekly exercise schedule, and stick with it

- Participate in Iowa 4-H Camera Corps again
- Practice, practice, practice!

Also, you'll be seeing a few changes around here in the upcoming weeks, as a few months ago I won a giveaway for a new blog design (hosted by Hannah at A Homemakers Daughter). So right now Amanda at CS Designs is working on a new blog design for Beautiful Gems, and I can't wait to see how it's going to look!

One verse that stands out to me as we step into a new year is...

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight."
Proverbs 3:5-6

May each of you desire to grow in the Lord more and more and seek to serve Him with all of your heart. ourselves we can not change for the better. True change only comes about because of what GOD can do in our lives.

Have a wonderful New Year!

December 28, 2010

Walkin' in a Winter Wonderland

Yesterday morning everything was covered with frosty white crystals. It had gotten foggy the night before, and when it lifted it left everything in a brilliant, glittering winter wonderland! The trees, fences, grass...everything...had been covered in little snowflakes, and it was so beautiful!

When I went out to do chores, it looked as if our horses had aged quite a bit. Their hair was covered in a frosty white, Misty looked as if she had grown a beard, and Flash looked like she put on white mascara :)

 As you have probably already guessed, this "winter wonderland" scene was more than enough reason for me to grab my camera and head outside...

 I hope that you all had a wonderful Christmas! Our family did! As tradition goes, after we were all up we read the Christmas story (what would Christmas be without it?!?), and then we opened presents. Two of the presents that I got from my parents were Joyfully at Home by Jasmine Baucham and Preparing to be a Helpmeet by Debi Pearl. I was quite excited to get them, as I have heard so many young ladies recommend them! I'll let you know what I think of them after I'm done reading them...but from what I have read so far they look wonderful! After we were done with presents, we finished reading Tabitha's Travels (it's an advent story that tells of the adventures of a girl named Tabitha. It is in the same series as Jotham's Journey and Batholomew's Passage, all by Arnold Ytreeide) which we started in late November.

Preparing to be a Helpmeet - by Debi Pearl
Joyfully at Home - by Jasmine Baucham

Joy...finding a way to be happy even when things don't go your way

May the Lord bless you in the upcoming year!
Love in Christ,

December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!!

- Merry Christmas! -

As we gather with family and friends, I hope that we won't forget the reason we even celebrate Christmas. God sent His only Son into the world so that He could save us from our sin...what love! 

I hope that you all have a wonderful time celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

Yes...we have a white Christmas...a very white Christmas! It's so pretty :)

Merry Christmas!
- Rebekah

December 18, 2010

Fun Christmas Recipe: Reindeer Cookies

This is a really fun recipe for the holiday season! The little kids in our family especially like to make (and eat!) these cute treats.

So, if you feel like cookin' up a batch of reindeer....


- Reindeer Cookies -

1 Batch of “Best Peanut Butter Cookies” dough (recipe below)
60 mini Pretzel Twists
60 Semi-sweet Chocolate chips
30 Red Hot Cinnamon candies

Best Peanut Butter Cookie Recipe:

1 C. Butter
1 C. Peanut Butter
1 C. Sugar
1 C. Brown Sugar

2 C. Flour
½ t. Baking Soda
½ t. Salt

Mix well. Shape into an 8” roll. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. Unwrap and cut into ¼ inch slices. Place 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Use thumb and forefinger to make a slight indentation 1/3 of the way down the sides of each slice. Press in pretzels for antlers, chocolate chips for eyes, and a red hot for the nose. Bake at 350 for 9-11 minutes or until light brown. Remove to wire racks to cool.

December 15, 2010

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

We have snow! Actually, I think that all of Iowa is under snow right now, as a few days ago the whole state was under a blizzard warning :)

When it was snowing really hard, my 5 year old sister Lydia looked out the window and exclaimed "Wow, it's a blizzard out there!" to which my littlest sister Miriam (2)  replied "Let me see...I wanna see the lizard!" Little siblings are just too cute....

I think that the Christmas season is a wonderful time of year...and I'm sure that  many of you agree. Snowflakes covering the ground in a blanket of fluffy white. Christmas songs playing over the radio. Lights twinkling on the tree. Curling up with a cup of hot chocolate and a good book. Tis' the season!

The lighting of our county courthouse was a couple weeks ago, which really added some Christmas spirit to the town.  The lights were so colorful, and the trees inside were so pretty...but my camera just wouldn't capture it like I wanted it to *sigh*. have a Nikon SLR instead of a point-and-shoot! I'll have to admit that on my last trip to Target I stood in the camera section for at least 10-15 minutes just holding and looking the Nikon cameras and dreaming of the day I would own one...


So between school, photo shoots, birthdays (my sister Lydia turned 5, and I'm now sweet 16!!), Bright Lights, babysitting, and getting caught up in the whirlwind of the Christmas season, I've been keeping busy the past few weeks. That is just a very, very brief description of what's been going on here, but I don't want to bore you with details.

And just kind of as a little side note for those of you who are looking for some delicious holiday recipes, check out the Taste of Home website ( I just found it today, and they have some really good looking treats on there (both photos are from the Taste of Home website)...

Holiday Cheesecake
Homemade Gumdrops

Ok, that is all that I have time for right now. Sorry that this post ended up being kind of random, but now you are sort of caught up on what is going on around here! I really need to work on being consistent in posting, but life just gets so busy so quickly. I've also had a hard time figuring out what to post any suggestions are welcome! What do you enjoy seeing on this blog?

November 26, 2010

A Nation Apart

Here is some information about a fiction book that a friend of mine is publishing soon...I hope you'll check it out! 


- A Nation Apart -

By Rebekah Dawn Wall


One was white... 

One was black...

They were like a nation apart...

Rebekah Stevens was your average, 16 yr. old white girl, growing up in the mid-1800s. The Civil War was just about to begin. Slavery had always been a part of her life. To Rebekah, it was just the way things were. But in the back of her mind, there was a question...

Nathaniel was your average, 16 yr. old black boy, growing up on a plantation in Southern USA. Slavery had always been a part of his life, because he was a slave. To Nathaniel, it was just the way things were. But in the back of his mind, there was a question...

Together, they would discover the answer to that question. A question that turned into a dream, and a dream that turned into an adventure of a lifetime. An adventure that taught them that what was really important in life wasn't "things".

Join them on their journey of faith, to a place where no one was...
A Nation Apart

To be released December 2010! We are taking pre-orders! 

Pre-Ordering Details:
Price Per Book: $8.00

Shipping and Handling:
Canada: $2.00 
United States: $3.50
All other Countries: $7.00

You can visit Rebekah's ministries, as well as get more info about ordering her book, at:
For Such A Time As This Press:
For Such A Time As This Magazine:

November 24, 2010

Being Thankful

How often do we think we need more? We want the newest...the biggest...the best. How often do we take what we already have for granted, when in reality, we have so much to be thankful for.

Something that keeps coming to my mind this Thanksgiving season is Africa. How can I not be grateful for what I have, when they have so little? How can I want more, when there are children that are dying just because they don't have enough nutrition? There are people all over the world who would be grateful just to have a warm place to sleep....A hospital that can save their child who has malaria...A nutritious meal. God has blessed me with so much; how can I not be thankful?

So this Thanksgiving, let's thank God for everything He has provided...
Family, Friends, Homes, Food, The Bible, His Son

What are you thankful for?

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

November 20, 2010

I'm Finally Back...

Life has been busy (I need to re-word has been normal) which is the reason I've been absent from my blog for the past several weeks. But that's fine with me as sometimes it's good just to take a break from the blogging world. There are so many other things that are of more importance, and putting aside blogging for a few weeks was actually kind nice. So if you have been wondering why I haven't responded to your e-mail, commented on your blog, or posted anything here...that's why.

My friend, Rachel, and I have gone out and done several photography shoots in the past couple weeks, and I like to share just a few of those photos with you (ok...maybe more than "just a few" photos). I've loved having the opportunity to work on my photography skills, and doing it with friends is even better. Picnik is my new-found photo editing friend, and I've enjoyed exploring it's endless possibilities!

So now for some of my favorite photos from the past few weeks (sorry they don't all have captions)...

{Our friends are currently taking care of four adorable puppies}

{I actually didn't take this photo...Rachel did}

{Rachel playing her guitar}

{Wood parks make great places to take photos!}

{Talking with a friend while sipping a hot cappuccino on a cold relaxing}

While I was gone from the blogging world, Nela over at Beloved Star tagged me (thank you!). But since I don't have enough time to do that right now, I'll leave that to a later post :)

I also have many other things (and pictures!) I would love to post about, but I really don't want to bore you with an overwhelmingly long post! I would also like to get some other things going on this blog so that it is more interactive for the readers. Maybe a recipe exchange or a photo challenge...something along those lines.  Let me know if you have any thoughts about this!

I'll try to post again soon, but for now I want to leave you with this verse:

"Let us hold unswervingly 
to the hope the we profess, 
for He who promised is faithful
And let us consider how we may spur 
one another on toward love and good deeds"

Hebrews 10:23-24

November 1, 2010

For the love of horses

Horses are my definitely my favorite animal. No question about it. And since I love horses so much, I can't help but do a blog post on them. God put so much beauty and strength into these wonderful can't help but love 'em.

I've loved horses for just about as long as I can remember. When I was young I prayed for horse, but it didn't become a reality until I was 12. That's when I got my first horse, Buck. Long story short, he lived up to his name, we sold him, and I kept praying! It wasn't until later that year that Flash came into my life and she has been a perfect match for me.
Flash is my 21 year old red dun Quarter Horse mare, and I love her a ton! She has her ornery moments, and even though she's older she's got a lot of spunk left in her. At our county fair we do the pleasure and trail classes, but for some reason she seems to like barrels and poles better (that's fine with me...I prefer those as well!). I've loved teaching her new things and having her teach me a lot as well. I'll admit that there I times I have gotten frustrated, but it's hard to be like that for long because she tries so hard to do what I tell her. She was truly an answer to prayer and I'm so amazed at how God worked!
Misty is my sister's 4 year old Shetland Pony that she got for her birthday last year (it was such a gift from the story here). We just started the process of training her a few weeks ago, and she is doing wonderful! Sarah has started riding on her own, and we have even taken her on a trail ride! I've enjoyed being apart of the process and learning all I can about horse training. 

So why do I love horses? I'm not exactly sure. Maybe it's that horsey smell. The excitement of cantering bareback with the wind blowing through your hair. Trail rides on crisp autumn days. The accomplishment you feel when your horse finally understands what you've been trying to teach for the past 2 weeks. The scent of new leather. Or maybe it's just knowing that we're a team.

So for all you horse lovers/owners out there, take time to show your equine pal just how much you love them. Give them their favorite treat, groom them, or take them on a walk. They'd probably appreciate knowing that you love them.

(And in case you're wondering...I'm not sure if Flash really liked having this picture taken or not.)

October 24, 2010

The Focal Point

Does it ever seem like our lives get so busy that we loose sight of our focal point? Or, you know that your goal is to be fully dedicated to the Lord, but you just can't seem to get there? As Christians, Christ should be the center of our lives...but it seems that some days (or weeks...or months) get so filled up with other things that our focus gets blurred.

I think that so many times it's easy to loose sight of the Lord and what He has planned for us. Other things become "distractions", and even though these things may not be bad they can make us loose sight of our goal.

Right now I encourage you to not loose sight of your life focus, Jesus Christ. He will make our lives truly beautiful if He is our love...our goal...our focus.

"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning it's shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."
Hebrews 12:2

October 16, 2010

Fall Is...

...crisp, cool air and the sun shining through the trees

...picking juicy, red apples

...trail rides on dirt paths surrounded by the colors of autumn

...the smell of fresh hay stacked in the barn loft

...a time to admire God's beautiful creation

...bright, colorful pumpkins that add that perfect fall touch

...crunchy leaves that leave the ground in a blanket of brown, orange, and red fill in the blank...what is fall to you?

"This is the day the LORD has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it."
Psalm 118:24

October 11, 2010

Bliss Photo Challenge - Pets

Here are some photos for the Bliss photo challenge....I couldn't decided on just one!

One of our kittens

Bentley our Australian Shepherd (he's the best dog ever!)

Misty, my sister's Shetland pony

Ok, I have a question...does anyone know of an easy way to add a watermark to your photos? I had to add all of mine by typing in onto each photo using Picasa 3. Anyone know of a quicker way or program? Any suggestions are welcome!

October 6, 2010

Standing Strong for the Lord in Your Youth

These years of our youth are so important, and God’s desire for us is that we use them for His glory. He wants us to shine for Him in this world of darkness. Philippians 2:15 says, “So that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation in which you shine like stars in the universe.” God is looking for people who want to serve Him. People who want to be strong for Him through the years of their youth. People who are committed to being a dedicated servant. People who are bright lights in this world of darkness.

But can God really use me in my teen years? I think that in today’s world, the ability of a teen fully dedicated to God has been underestimated. These years of our youth are some of the most important years of our life, but in this generation so many teens are wasting this precious time. People see the teen years as years of rebellion and living for self...but they don't have to be. If you look in the Scriptures, there are many places that show us examples of young people who were willing to stand up for the Lord and follow Him no matter the cost. Some of the examples that I have found are David, Jeremiah, Timothy, Mary the mother of Jesus, Daniel, Esther, and Joseph. These young men and women were willing to stand up for what the world said was foolish, and God rewarded them for giving Him their all.

This morning when I was doing my devotions I started reading Jeremiah, and the calling of Jeremiah especially stood out to me.  Jeremiah 1:6-8 says:
"Ah, Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am only a child.”
But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a child.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord.
So then it got me wondering, how old was Jeremiah when God called him? So I decided to search it online and see what I found. No one knows exactly how old he was, but some say he was probably between 13 and 17 years old, others say he was about 20. But still, God called him, a youth, to be a prophet. That was a huge job! God didn’t look for someone who was highly educated, experienced, and older, He called Jeremiah. And just as He called Jeremiah, He calls to each of us to be willing to take that step of faith. “Youth and inexperience do not disqualify when God calls; He equips and sustains those He commissions.” (footnote on Jeremiah 1:7, NIV Study Bible).

So we’ve seen that God called young men and women in the Bible to serve Him, but does He still call today? Just take a look around you. This world is desperately in need of youth who are willing to stand for the truth and be strong for the Lord. So many teens are wasting these years for things that, in the eternal light of things, will never really matter. 1 Timothy 4:12 says, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity.” Other people are watching the way you live, the conversations you have, the way you interact with others, as well as your faith. Someone who is totally dedicated to the Lord isn’t someone who blends in with everyone else, they stand out as one who is different than the world. Don’t think that just because you are young, God won’t use you. Make it your personal goal to shine for the Lord in all that you do.

One thing that I struggle with in this area is just finding what areas I can serve the Lord in. I want to be totally dedicated to Him, but sometimes it’s hard to find a place where I can serve Him with all my heart. I was listening to a Bright Lights leaders CD a couple weeks ago, and Sarah Mally made some really good points. As Christians, all of us are called to ministry, but sometimes it can be hard to find what ministry the Lord has called us to. But there are four different ministries that all Christians are called to, and one other one that isn’t talked about in the Bible, but is still a wonderful ministry to have. These five are:

1. Prayer (Romans 12:12, 1 Thessalonians 5:17)
2. Witnessing (Mark 16:15, 1 Corinthians 1:17)
3. Making Disciples (Matthew 28:18)
4. Good Works (Galatians 6:9-10, Ephesians 2:10)
5. Writing (Encouraging others in their walk with the Lord through the form of writing. You can also do this by recording what the Lord has been doing in your life, and then sharing it with others. I think that this area of ministry is neat because you are able to impact people whom you may not be able to reach in other ways.)

These are some practical areas of ministry that you can be involved in as a teen. I think that the enemy wants us to think that just because we are young or inexperienced, we can’t do anything to serve the Lord. But that is such a lie! God wants young men and women who are dedicated to Him. You don’t have to wait until you are older to serve the Lord; you can serve Him now, right where you are. You can stand strong for Him in the place that He has put you. Don’t think that God can’t use you, because He can, and will, if you’ll just let Him.

It can be discouraging when we think about standing alone against the world. The evils of the world are so powerful, and they could easily pull us in. But we shouldn’t fear that, because we aren’t alone. When we surrender to the Lord, He will stand right there with us to help us to be strong and stand up for what is right. God never promised that it would be easy, but He did promise that He would give us the strength to make it through.

I encourage you to make a personal commitment to stand strong for the Lord through your youth, for He is worth standing for. One idea is to write out your commitment, and then place it somewhere where you’ll see it. This can be a visual reminder that you have given your teen years to the Lord. Strive to uphold a high standard, and don’t lower it so you can “fit in”. For God hasn’t called us to be of the world, but to stand out as bright lights in the world. Don’t waste these precious years, as they can be some of the most fruitful! Remember that God is still calling to youth today and seeking those who will be dedicated to Him.

(Some of you may have read this article already, as it is from Issue 12 of Beautiful Gems)

September 27, 2010

A fun day as a family

Yesterday our family decided to visit a church in another town since they were hosting a speaker that my parents wanted to hear. We also decided to pack a lunch so that afterwords we could go and spend the day as a family. While looking for a park to eat lunch at, we saw a sign for a free outdoor expo that had activities for the whole family. We went to check it out, and we ended up having one of the funnest family days we've had in a long time! It was so fun to spend a day just being a family.

Mom and Lydia (4) kayaking

My little brothers: Caleb (6) and Joshua (8)

Dad and Caleb kayaking
Hannah (12) trying out archery
Joshua getting ready to shoot his arrow
Caleb and Lydia making pop bottle bird feeders
Sarah, Joshua, and Caleb all shot a BB gun for the first time
I decided to try shooting a shotgun (this was the first time I had ever done it).  My dad, mom, and Hannah all did this too and I'll just say that...they all did better than I did. It was actually a lot of fun, but my arm is a little sore today :)
The perfect ending for a perfect day
Dad and Lydia enjoying their ice cream