Help for building (or keeping) a strong marriage ~ review~

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

I was only 20.... just two weeks he would turn 21....
...everyone who didn't know us said 'too young'...
...everyone who did happily encouraged....

It's been almost 15 years since that day when I stood in the church  & said my vows to the man who was my best friend.  Who is still my best friend. Our marriage grew from a friendship of two innocent teenagers who shared common interests.  Over time, our friendship budded  & began to grow until we realised that our relationship was far deeper, far stronger than mere friends.  That day, me nervously standing in a white dress, was the day our relationship flower began to open & it has continued to open every day of these years. It was that friendship base & our faith in the God of this universe who created the marriage union, that has held us together through times of intense sadness, unspeakable pain & amazing miracles! 
A month ago I tentatively filled out the application form to be on the launch team for Darlene Schacht's soon to be released book 'Messy, Beautiful, Love : Hope & Redemption for real life marriages'.  I was so excited to receive an email to invite me to join their launch team!  Darlene's writing at her blog The Time Warp Wife has blessed me in the past & I was sure this book would be a blessing again.  Finally, today is the long awaited launch day & I am so excited to share with you about this excellent resource for every married lady ~ no matter how long, how wonderful or how rocky their union may be.

Don't Give Up on Your Marriage

As I read the pre-release copy of this book I was given, in the few spare minutes I could find in this particularly hectic month, I was deeply touched with a longing to share this book with others.  Darlene has bared her heart in the pages.  Her testimony is something I did not expect. She openly shares it, interwoven with some good, practical, Bible based marriage advice.  As you read her testimony you know that much of what she writes about she has learned the hard way.
 This is a book on marriage for every hurting married lady, every happily married lady, every struggling married lady & every strongly married lady.  

I am particularly passionate about the importance of marriage.  Our society seems to be openly opposing marriage more & more.  It saddens me & I have wept many tears over friends who have walked away from the teaching of their youth & lived as if married, but without the commitment.  Sweet, Christian girls who have fallen for the wrong guy, compromised their standards & then ended up living a life that does not hold the joy, peace & freedom that a relationship entrenched in true commitment to one another before the Lord entails. There are others who have walked down the aisle, but when things got hard or when it meant giving more of yourself than you will ever receive,  they decided it was all too hard & just walked away.  Sometimes with little children being pulled backwards & forwards.

Hope for the Best

Ladies, we need to make sure our marriages do not end up like this.  
Never think that because you have a strong, happy marriage that it will always be that way.  Marriage takes work.  Hard work.  Sometimes days of giving & giving & giving without reward, many hours on our knees before the Lord.  It is worth it though.  A strong marriage is worth every heartache, every prayer & every piece of your heart you can possibly put into it.

I personally found Messy Beautiful Love inspired me to work towards making our marriage stronger,  to build our friendship & to pray for our marriage even more than I already do.  I have always struggled with affection.  I am not a touchy feely person.  However, when I read about how important touch is in building relationships, I began to work on this.  I decided to be more touchy even if it killed me.  
Guess what?  
Well...I survived... 
And I also  found that I really like cuddling my husband on the couch, holding his hand & leaning against his arm.  It takes me back to before there were more babies than arms & when the new bride blush still shone on my cheeks.  

Within the pages of Messy Beautiful Love, Darlene gently advises you on how to biblically live your marriage out day by day whether you are handling conflict, being affectionate, appreciating your husband, or capturing that joy we all endlessly strive.  Messy Beautiful Love is a book written for all married women & it shares practical advice that everyone can glean from.

To find out more about this excellent marriage resource & to download a free chapter please go HERE.

Messy Beautiful Love can be purchased from Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Worth Fighting For

Ladies, whatever else you do today,  I advise you do something  special for your hubby ( even if it nearly kills you) ;).   Trust me, it will be worth it!! 


Disclaimer: I was given a copy of this book for the purpose of reviewing it's contents.  I was not required to write a positive review.  All opinions are my own.

Our Birthday Boy & introducing 'Bolt'

Somehow days creep into weeks & into years....

And no, I'm not talking about my lack of blogging ~ I have a good excuse for that! It's more these little ones who are middle ones now & getting bigger every day....

As any mother knows, it seems that time really does take up wings & fly.
This son, the one I held with such awe that I, a young 22 year old woman, could be blessed to hold close & be a mother to, has done what I always knew he would do ....he's equalled me in height.  In fact at the rate he is growing he'll soon be looking down on me.  Looking eye to eye with your own child is strange. They are still your own dear child & need to be treated as such, however being the same height makes you acutely aware of how they are growing up so quickly.  

This one, our dearest Zai,  has recently celebrated a birthday.

It's hard to believe he is now 12.  It seems such a grown up number ( & I'm not even going to consider, not even going to think about the next way...I am definitely NOT old enough to almost have a teenager....).

As is Zai's custom, and he is the only one who does this consistently over the years, a few weeks before his birthday he presented us with a list of gifts he would like to receive. I scanned it quickly rather content in the knowledge of what I had planned on getting him for his gift.  Then he gave it to his Dad.  At the top was 'a puppy'.

If you have spent long enough around us you would know that  Dave has been staunchly against a dog here at Sunnyside since our last two failures.  It is horrible having to have to get rid of a dog & we have had little success with the two we have had here at the farm.  Both ended up getting sheep.  Both had to leave.  Saying goodbye to a loved pet is heartbreaking for all involved, especially for the tender hearts housed here at Sunnyside.

So I was rather surprised when Dave approached me with the idea of getting a puppy again.  We'd been offered a kelpie pup from good friends.  I'm fairly sure after our vehement declines of their kind offer they were shocked when Dave rang them up & asked to see the pups. To say he was smitten is an understatement.  The evening before Zai's Birthday Dave snuck in the most adorable kelpie pup.  Intelligence shone from his eyes & since he was loved on by our friends, he is ever affectionate.

The next day Zai was shocked to find a puppy waiting for him at the end of his 'birthday hunt'!  

And that is how Bolt has come to be another member of our chaotic, busy menagerie of animals.

The timing has been fantastic as we are currently feeding poddy lambs.  This means he is around lambs often as he comes to 'help' feed them.  We also have some of last years' poddy lambs which still stay near the house.  These perceive Bolt as a threat & since they love me ( far, far too much for lambs that must be sold in a couple of weeks (sob, sob)) they have tackled him a few times to keep him from getting to close to me.  This has meant he has a healthy respect of sheep.  Not great for a sheep dog, I know, but then he isn't here to be a sheep dog.  He's job is to watch over the house & yard.  He does a fairly good job of watching over any shoes that are left outside too.  

Zai had a lovely 12th birthday celebration & asked for a South America cake which he had designed.  (World cup fever was running riot through the house at the time of his birthday).  

12 years....hard to believe!

Now he's hoping he grows taller than his Dad!!  We shall see!!!


Sunday Psalms

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Lord is the strength of His people,
    a fortress of salvation for His anointed one.

Psalm 28:8

Messy (Yes) Beautiful (Definitely) Love!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

It's been almost fifteen years since I stood in front of a church full of people & faced my  handsome groom & made some promises that seemed far too easy to make.
I meant every word back when I was just twenty years old, fresh our of university & marrying her high school sweetheart.  Even now, almost a decade & a half  later I still mean every word.  
Some moments change your life.  
That one changed mine.  

But what about the ever after? Once the princess has her prince? Once the marriage kiss is sealed?  What about the nights when he sleeps through the babies' waking every hour?  What about when the dirty socks pile up?  What about when life real-life comes along & you find out that your handsome prince isn't as perfect as you thought? 

I have been blessed to be chosen on the launch team for the latest book Messy, Beautiful Love: Hope & Redemption for Real Life Marriages by Darlene Schacht of The Time-Warp Wife.  I have long admired Darlene for the strong, wise marriage advice she shares on her blog so you can imagine how excited I was to open up the launch copy of her book & begin reading.    I have a review coming later in the month & I don't want to spoil it for you, but I will say that what I have read so far is excellent!

Darlene asked that her launch team let our readers know about over $50 of Freebies she is offering everyone who preorders a copy of Messy, Beautiful Love.  

These include:
* 10 ebooks including Darlene's newest ebook "I'd Rather be a Crown Than a Trophy Wife:
* A set of 31 Printable Prayer Cards
* 1 Downloadable MP3 Song: "Untold Story" by Naomi Striemer

If you purchase five or more copies you'll also get: 
* The Messy Beautiful Love Companion Study Guide
* 25 inspiring iPhone Wallpapers
*200 printable conversation starters from Words Fitly Spoken

Love is a Beautiful Thing

For more details of these freebies please visit HERE.

To get these freebies, simply purchase a book & email with your proof of purchase.  

Books can be ordered through the links on

I look forward to sharing with you a little more about the book in the coming weeks!
Have a lovely day friends

2014/2015 Summer Garden Planning

Monday, August 25, 2014

Over the last couple of weeks I've been starting seeds for our summer vegetable garden.
This past year has been a difficult gardening year for me.  After our dismal failure last summer (running out of water)  I was almost ready to throw in the towel & never garden again.  In fact, if you were to drive up our driveway right now that is exactly what it looks like I've done.  A tangled mess of weeds & overgrown plants are everywhere.  It's only when you look very closely you see that there is however a few small sections that are maintained.  My strawberries, my new roses, my winter vegetable garden.  Besides that....I really need to get working come spring.  
Dave & I discussed our gardening position before I even began planning our garden this year.  Our primary issue affecting our garden in summer is water.  The past two years of smaller than average annual rainfall & scorching hot, dry summers has drained our dams.  We need our dams to hold sufficient water to feed our stock. Unless the Lord provides large quantities of spring rain (Please Lord) I won't be able to pump for our gardens from the dam.  So I can't count on water from there.
We have come up with a few solutions, but I will post about them later because otherwise this will be a post of gigantic proportions....

In an attempt to use up the large amount of seeds I already have ( hmmm...I may have a teeny, tiny seed collecting addiction) I decided to try not to purchase any additional seeds this year.  Since I can only plan on a smaller than normal area of garden due to watering issues,  I started just the basic seeds.  Then I went through the seeds & found everything that will be out of date before next summer.  I have either started them or put them aside for planting.  Needless to say it is a little larger than our original "tiny, drought-proof" plan ~ I need to pray for rain!

Already started in punnets:

* Wild Sweetie Tomatoes ~ I like to use a cherry tomato variety as well as a normal one.  I've always had success with cherry tomatoes & I hope this year will be equally as productive.

* Amish Paste Tomatoes ~ These are a great 'all rounder' & are fantastic for canning.

* Mini White Cucumbers ~ These are the only kind I've had success with previously & even that wasn't very successful.  I'm hoping I can baby these into being more productive.

* Roselle ~ because these were some of my free seeds from being a member of the Diggers Club & they will be out of date if I don't use them.  I'm hoping to use these for jam as I've heard it's lovely

* Basil ~ this is leftover seed from my wonderful 2012 garden where I had basil growing abundantly. It grew last year before dying out.  I'm hoping this year the seeds will still be fertile enough to give us some wonderful plants ( especially as I just used the last of the frozen basil I had from 2012 & so we desperately need more).

* Oregano ~ I have oregano slowly growing in another section of garden, but I'm hoping to get a bit more.  We have pizza every Saturday night & oregano always tastes lovely on it.

* Sunflowers ~ I love sunflowers. I hope these grow!  I have never had success starting them directly in the garden ( this may be due to the varying number of chickens that roam around our house).  I have grown a few that were started in punnets.

* Zinnias ~ I've had no success with zinnias & I really want to as I adore looking at photos of them & I've heard they are supposed to be easy to grow.  These needed to be used anyway.

* Marigold ~ I always love the 'pop' of colour the marigolds give to the garden & this is one I have had success with.

I plan to plant directly:

* Pumpkin ~ I have 4 packs of various seeds: Australian Heirloom Mix, some saved from a Qld blue, some saved from a neighbour's butternut pumpkin.  I shall see what I decide to attempt to grow.

* Black Beauty Zucchini ~ because there are far too many delicious sounding recipes not to have a couple of zucchini plants.

* Beetroot (Heirloom Mix) ~ I hope to get a large patch in & growing as soon as spring is officially here.  My plan is to do this so they will be grown, picked & preserved before the hot, dry days of summer are upon us.

If we end up with extra water I'll add in:
* French Charentais Rockmelon ~ I've always wanted to grow rockmelon.  I've never had success yet which is why I won't try unless we have sufficient water.

* Sugarbaby Watermelon ~ I dream of growing watermelon.  I've tried & tried & tried.  Maybe this time I'll be successful IF we have water.

* Honey & Cream Sweet Corn ~ this is almost out of date so needs to be used, but it's not really worth trying unless we have water.

While this looks great on paper, sometimes gardening is messy, sometimes it's a failure & always it's a lesson in trusting God who does provide for all our needs.  I wish you every success in your gardening efforts this coming summer (or winter if you are a northern hemisphere dwellers). I like to remind myself that gardening is about learning lessons for the coming years.  I haven't always had gardening successes, but I surely have learnt a lot!

Blessings Friends

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Sunday Psalms

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Praise the Lord from the earth,
    you great sea creatures and all ocean depths,
wild animals and all cattle,
    small creatures and flying birds,
young men and women,
    old men and children.

Psalm 148: 7,10,12

July Days...on our farmstead

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

July ushers in one of my favourite seasons here on the farm ~ lambing season!  Sure, we are kept running the whole month through ( & throughout August as well), but it is so wonderful having new life here on the farm. July was also a time of hosting visitors, our winter break & watching adorable piglets grow! By the end of July some of the crops & wattles had begun to flower.  I just love the world filled with blossoms! 

Unlike last year when lambing season began right on time, this year the ewes held out a little longer.  We spied our first pair of twin lambs on the 4th July.  After that they began to come fast & furiously in that common first flush that tends to happen in a flock of sheep.  We have been blessed with a fairly uneventful lambing season so far.  We have only lost a few ewes & had to pull just a couple of lambs. I always find that first lamb pulling to be the most difficult mentally.  After that you seem to remember that as 'icky' as it is, it's not as bad as your brain leads you to believe.

The day after lambing season began, Delores dropped her third litter of piglets.  I just adore babies of any kind & to have lambs & piglets arriving at the same time keeps smiles on our lips.  The antics of baby animals are captivating to watch.  At three weeks old the male piglets were castrated.  A neighbour who owns a piggery comes & does the job for us.  Last time I wasn't around, but this time I distracted Delores.  After last time when she broke into the shed they were using & my twins had to scale the walls in fear of being attacked by a frantic mother sow we decided to have someone watching her (as well as two doors between her & where it was being done!  We also found that keeping a female piglet with her kept her slightly more relaxed than previously.  It certainly is amazing though how loudly a piglet can squeal though.

Our first poddy "Noisy"

On the 6th July we got our first poddy lamb.  This one was a great one to start with as it drank well & was strong & able to go right to their shed.  (You can hear it on the piglets 2 day old free ranging video.)  Needless to say it is very noisy & has since been joined by varying numbers of friends who join in chorus every time they spy one of us in the houseyard.  If we dare to cross the threshold into their paddock  area, we are mobbed!  It's a wonderful problem to have :)

My parents were visiting during this time & it was great having extra hands around.  Dave, Dad & the boys fixed up our 'Chook nook' (hen house) which  has allowed it to be about 4 times the size of the area we were using.  This meant that we now have 3 sections where we can house chickens.  We  then moved our older set of chicks (May's hatching) over into one of the sections.  We still allow them to free range each day, but it means that they are free to have their own food & water without having to brave the larger hens & roosters to get it.  I love our new Chook Nook!

We also butchered two of our excess rooster.  I knew we had too many roosters & had to get rid of a couple.  When one of them attacked my rear end one morning while I was getting grain from the silo for the cow we very quickly knew it had to be done ASAP.  That rooster was almost going to be one of the ones that stayed, but the attack made my decision really easy (it hurt).  We ate him a couple of nights after butchering & he was delicious!

Wattle beginning to blossom
I spent some time planning out my summer garden.  This time I did it with the expectation of another hot, dry summer with limited water since we have not had sufficient rain to fill the dams (we are praying for that).  I love planning a garden, but at times dream about having excess available water just so I could have the garden of my dreams.  I remind myself to be ever thankful for what we do have. We also continued to harvest our winter greens from the small winter garden!

We took a two week break from schooling while my parents were visiting.  This coincided with the NSW school holidays which I tend to try to do as it's nice for the children to have a break from schoolwork when their friends are off school.   We were all refreshed to begin right back to school after this time & it was lovely to spend time with Mum & Dad.   Third term is always a busy time for us  on the farm & so I reduce the extra subjects because we rely on the children to help out with the lambs as well as their normal chores. The only thing I added in was a new typing program I purchased. I've found that though Zai & Ellie have worked completely through the free program they were using, they need additional practice.  This can be completed independently & so is not any extra work on my part. There were some exceptionally beautiful days that saw us taking our books outside to bask in the sunlight.

Salami mince ready to mix up!
Very little extra went on in our kitchen this month, although we did make another batch of salami.  I tried valiantly to keep everyone fed with nutritious, filling meals & the occasional yummy snack.   Milk processing is a normal part of my week, however I haven't tried anything new during July.  We continue with the weekly ( actually with the way my boys are guzzling it, it's more likely twice weekly) yoghurt and also the weekly cheese making.   As soon as the weather turns warmer we are anticipating making ice cream!  
One of the most exciting additions to the kitchen has been  a brand new wood fired oven that we were so very generously gifted with.  What an amazing blessing this has been!  Not only does it keep us toasty warm, but it also means that we can use the oven  for cooking which allows another reduction in our ridiculously high electricity bill!  I am thoroughly enjoying experimenting on it & am slowly learning not to burn everything!

Winter seems to be flying by as we continue to count lambs, watch ewes, milk cows, raise chickens, homeschool children & dream about a garden.  What a blessing it is to have work to do!

Have a wonderful day friends

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