Summer updates

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged and while I don’t have any deep revelations to share, I did want to just share general updates on personal and ministry stuff. Because this website is about Risen Ridge Ministry, I’ll start there.

Since March, we have had 4 meetings with an amazing group of close to 20 people who feel that God has called them to be a part of this ministry. Most of them in ways that they don’t yet understand, which is just awesome! It is absolutely amazing and encouraging to me to have people join this

journey when the journey is still only a vision. Being obedient to God is a powerful thing and I am in awe of our team! God is the head of this ministry and our meetings involve much prayer, discernment, and discussion. We are laying a strong foundation! About a month ago, I realized that if we had a location already, we would be so excited about getting started that these vital, foundational items that we are working on now, could be rushed. With nothing else to physically do with the ministry right now, we can put our efforts into the foundational work because it’s all we have.

I am happy to say that we have our third board member! This is a very important step because having three board members allows us to move forward with filing the 501©3 paperwork to become a nonprofit organization. We are in the process of filing that paperwork now. Don’t worry, I won’t be able to keep it to myself when we are “official”! Once we are a nonprofit, we hope to have a launch party where we can introduce our team, share the vision with people who are curious, celebrate how far God has taken us and what He plans to do with Risen Ridge.

Aside from filing the paperwork, our main focus is a location. Not only for the ministry but for our family as well. After living on this amazing farm for almost 2 ½ years, our time is coming to an end by January 1. Don’t worry, we are leaving on good terms and there will be tears upon tears shed the day we leave. The Beiler’s are part of our family now and that fact won’t change just because our location does. Location and funding are currently the focus of our prayers. Someday, when this chapter of life is finished, I will be able to share another unbelievable story going on behind the scenes; but I’ll have to save that for another time. While the vision for this ministry includes a spacious farm retreat, we feel very strongly that it will begin with horses. That being said, our next step doesn’t need to be huge right now. Enough land for 2-3 horses and our cow (and her buddy) and a place to ride. God can always grow it in His time. Please join us in prayer for a location for Risen Ridge.

Changes coming to the website soon, too. I will be adding the official mission statement and the values as well as changing the menu buttons so that the story is more captivating and easier to understand.

Now on to the personal stuff…

Our kids:

Alex turned 14 this summer and when people say their kids are growing like a weed, we now know what they mean. He is currently 5’9 ½ “ and wearing a size 12 shoe!!! For his birthday, he got a new bicycle and a 2 stroke motor kit for it. I am so proud to say that he assembled the motor and mounted it on his bike pretty much by himself. You should have seen his smile when I let him take the connecting farm lane down to Sheetz with his lawn mowing money.

Abby and Hannah have had a busy summer. They both attended Highland Retreat Camp for the 5th year. It’s a week-long sleep-away camp about an hour from home. It’s a Christian (Mennonite) camp and they always come away from it with a closer relationship to God. They have also been taking summer ballet classes, participated in the FCA Power Camp, and are currently doing a drama camp. Abby has begun pre-pointe this summer and I am very proud of her work ethic towards ballet. I’m so happy that she has found a passion! Hannah has made a very brave and independent decision that she no longer wants to do dance, but wants to return to soccer, basketball, and swim team. This was a big decision for her as she and Abby often do things together since they are so close in age. I am very happy for her and looking forward to seeing all of "the big kids" exude joy in their activities.

Fizzy is just the cutest, 4 year old, curly-headed, farm girl in Virginia, if you ask me. She loves everything about living on this farm; the animals, big and small; the garden; the tractors; baling hay; playing in the rain; doing chores; baking, even hanging laundry. It’s just a beautiful thing. I’ve also noticed that her foundation is strongly rooted in God and she boldly prays before meals and at our family meetings. She talks about Jesus as being loving and faithful, the creator of all things, the sacrifice of His death for us, and then she usually finishes by thanking God for something adorable like mermaids or unicorns – lol! Our Lord has been made real to her from the beginning, something that, I’m sad to say, was not as evident in our lives when the other three were her age. They are more aware of the beautiful changes that He has made in our lives and He lives in them because they are older and can better see and understand the decisions we have made.

Charlotte is nearly 6 months old – how did that happen? At her dedication, we prayed Ephesians 4:2-3 ( 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.)over her. She is a very peaceful child, frequently seeming to take in the world around her in a very contemplative way. She cries when she’s hungry, but even that isn’t very often as I’m often able to nurse her as soon as I recognize the need. She makes all sorts of beautiful sounds and giggles. Her most recent being, “ba ba ba”, which I, of course, am encouraging her to say “ma ma ma”. She rolls back and forth and is beginning to sit. She sleeps really well at night, usually only waking once but not until 5 or 6 am. Her naps are hit or miss, but I can’t complain because I am well rested otherwise. She’s a solid little thing, too. Very long and has thighs for days! Nearly every person that sees her comments on her thighs – lol! Her eyes are a bit of a hazel color and her hair seems to be about the same color as Abby and Fizzy, a medium brown. Seeing the other children with her just makes my heart melt.

School is getting ready to start. It is our second year homeschooling and we are taking a different approach. Last year was a little loosey-goosey in our curriculum. This was a much needed step to begin to understand that we are always learning and you don't have to only learn the way we did in school. It was a learning process for all of us and I am beginning to understand how they each like to learn and what makes them curious. This year, we purchased box curriculums. Meaning, the whole year’s worth of education comes, basically, in a box from one company. Because Alex enjoys working on his computer so much and it seems to be the best way to keep him interested and engaged, he will be doing Switched on Schoolhouse. It is a computer based Christian curriculum. Abby and Hannah are doing Memoria Press. They saw it at the homeschool convention, got to see the books in person, and were very excited about it. It is considered a classical Christian curriculum and it looks really intense. I hope I can keep up – lol! The learning style is very traditional; textbooks, workbooks, written tests and quizzes. Lots and lots of books for the girls and a giant stack of books for me. Fizzy will not have formal education this year as she is just 4 years old, however, I will work with her on basic preschool things and try to foster a love of learning. I have a few workbooks to help me and some games for us. With the big kids, they came to me already knowing how to read and write. With Fizzy, it rests on my shoulders to teach her those things. I’m excited about that task because I know that God is with me in this endeavor! We plan to start on August 13, so please remember us in your prayers as we get back into a routine and start our new school year.

Our animals:

Last week we said goodbye to our nearly 13 year old Doberman, Raspberry.

For a time in our lives, we had 3 dogs and she was the youngest and last to go. She will be greatly missed and it is an adjustment for us to be without a dog since it’s all we’ve known as a family. For me personally, I have had a dog my entire life, save a few brief periods of time (probably only 2 or 3 of my 42 years). I missed her during the storm we had yesterday because her anxiety had gotten pretty bad and she was scared of loud noises like thunder, I missed her when Fizzy recently tipped over her plate and no one was there to eat it up off the floor, I miss taking her out late at night and early in the morning when the human world is mostly still but God’s Kingdom is alive, I miss hearing her bark to let us know that one of the Guinea hens was outside of our window, I miss knowing that she was always there if I needed to cuddle something soft, I miss her reckless abandon as she ran through the fields chasing any scent that caught her fancy, I miss how she tried to squeeze herself onto all of our chairs and how she often confused herself with a lap dog, especially on Chris’s Mom’s lap, I miss caring for her but we believe that she was created by God and that animals return to Him when they pass. Knowing that, I find joy in the fact that she’s not in any pain anymore and that she can run for hours now chasing whatever she wants and Bailey and Banjo are probably right by her side.

Pickles, the 3-legged wonder cat, is doing great!

He spends his nights in our office because I am nervous about his self-defense skills being that he only has 3 legs. Plus, he gets more cuddles that way! We let him out in the morning and he enjoys romping through our garden, snoozing in Charlotte’s stroller, napping on the hay bale on our front porch, and playing with the strings on our hanging laundry. He’s a sweet cat and even Chris, who is allergic to cats and has never been able to or cared to “see” their personalities before, really loves him. In fact, living on this farm has really changed him and he can now “see” the personalities in almost every animal here.

Cocoa, our 8 month old heifer, is super! After shedding her winter/baby coat, she is nearly black and just as shiny and sleek as a pair of shiny shoes. She is a sweet girl and seems to enjoy spending time with us, although I don’t think she

needs to be around us. She is very accustomed to grooming and standing tied, both of which are very important for when she will be milked. She is in excellent health and is growing into a sturdy frame. Since we’ll be moving at some point in the next few months, we’ve been talking about a companion for her. We aren’t sure if we want another heifer, a pet steer, a donkey, a goat? For now, her pasture mate is a sweet little bull calf named Domino. He has a very sweet, gentle personality and seems to truly desire to be near us. He went through a bit of a rough patch with some sickness, but seems to be healthy now. He lost a lot of weight while he was sick though and it will take him some time to fully recover. We have plans to teach him to pull a cart so if we decide that he should be Cocoa’s pasture mate, at least he can do a job on our farm. We could also use another heifer calf. One thing we can see ourselves doing in the future is raising family milk cows for people, so having another heifer would be helpful. Never too early to start that endeavor, either, as it would be years until we were able to provide someone else with a family milk cow. Mr. Beiler is frequently getting new bull calves to raise and sell. Having edible lawn mowers is a fairly common thing around here so there he has a few buyers for them on a routine basis. Two calves were born to his heifers recently, Buster and Jasmine. They are 3 and 2 weeks old, respectively. Yesterday, he purchased 4 bull calves that are all just a few days old. Are they ever cute! Because I don’t want to add any extra work for the Beiler’s by having him take care of Cocoa, I have taken on calf duty since I’m back there taking care of her anyway (I just love doing it and I feel like I’m helping around here just a little bit). I usually do it alone in the mornings, but it has become a family affair in the evenings. Chris, Fizzy, and Hannah are my biggest helpers with the calves and Charlotte comes along in her stroller without ever getting fussy about it.

We still have 5 parakeets who are all doing well. Hannah has some plans to possibly breed and sell them in the future. Alex recently acquired a beautiful, blue Beta fish that he named, Midnight.

The garden:

This year, we planted corn, green beans, green peppers, cucumbers, and tomatoes. The tomatoes are growing well but having a hard time ripening. Evidently, they like hot temperatures and it has been a very mild summer. We have loads of green tomatoes, but have only gotten a few ripe ones. We also had some type of critter pecking out the centers of the

tomatoes that were nearly ripe. So we put up a little “fence” of fishing line around our tomato plants and it has stopped whatever was getting in. We harvested some green beans earlier and should have another crop of them coming in soon. The cucumbers are going crazy and I’ve learned how to make pickles so I’ve been doing a bit of that. We have two groups of sweet corn planted. One crop was ripe the other day and the other crop won’t be ready for a few weeks yet. We were able to harvest and freeze the first crop and we did it together as a family. It was probably one of the best things we’ve done lately. I was so blessed to be able to spend some time with Mrs. Beiler last week. She graciously taught me about harvesting and freezing corn, making pickles, and making zucchini relish (Chris loves it). I felt like I was in homesteading school and it was wonderful! We’ve got applesauce coming up and all things tomato, if they ever ripen.

Reflecting on the summer, it has mostly been a very pleasant time of rest for our family. We are connecting in ways we haven’t before, growing in our relationship with God together, finding joy in simpler things, learning to be a family with 5 kids, mostly being at peace with our situation and still learning to trust God with our future. Two passages have been with me during this season…

Mathew 6:25-34

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

I love this passage and it is such an encouragement to me. I see God in nature a lot, especially when everything is alive and blooming, and this passage comforts me. It also reminds me to continually seek Him.

Proverbs 16:9, The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.

This one has meant that for all the planning and dreaming that Chris and I do about the ministry (admittedly, we probably do this way too much), only He knows our future. It may or may not be what we dream and talk about, but it will be exactly what He has planned for us and for His Kingdom at exactly the right time.

Thanks for reading and for your heart in this journey. We would truly be blessed if you would join us in prayer for God’s provision for a location and the funding to turn Risen Ridge Ministry from a vision to a place we can get our boots dirty and for our family as we start a new school year.

Stay tuned within the next few weeks, hopefully, for an announcement about an official launch party!

Risen Ridge Ministry