Six Months on Our Farm

Six months ago, we moved to the home we built on a few acres of land. It was an amazing but stressful process, watching our home go from an open field to our finished dream home. We were so excited to finally move in back in January! We even got to see snow. It was a big deal to us after twelve years on the Gulf Coast.

Even though the house is done, there are so many things to finish! We’re still hanging curtains and trying to find the perfect wall art for the living room. Right now I’m trying to pick out chairs for our dining room. A friend built us a gorgeous custom farmhouse dining table. I love the finished product!

One big project has been the chicken coop and run. In April, we got twelve Bielefelder chickens – eleven hens and a rooster. We’d had chickens before, but we’d only had three hens. This is our first time to raise so many and our first time to have a rooster. About a week in, we lost one of the girls. She wasn’t growing like the others and just didn’t seem to be a healthy chick. But everyone else did really well. We kept them in a big brooder my husband built. They were in my dining room for five weeks. At first it was cute, but I have to admit, I was happy to see them finally move outside. Eleven chicks can get pretty loud as they get older!

Before we even bought them, my husband and boys started working on the coop and run. They used an existing shed on our land and built the coop inside and the run outside. They’ll close in another part of the shed when we’re ready to get our quail.

We moved the chickens to their run at five weeks. They were a little nervous at first, and we had to put them in their coop at night for the first few days, but they love their home.

The girls weren’t sure if they were ready to come out quite yet.

They are now fifteen weeks old and they are so pretty. They will be considered fully grown at eighteen weeks. Bielefelders tend to start laying a bit later than average – we’ve read anywhere from seven to ten months. People who raise them say it’s worth the wait, because they lay big, chocolate colored eggs and they lay consistently. We’re expecting them to start laying somewhere from November to February. I can’t wait!

Another big project was the dock for our little pond. My husband and youngest son built it. We’re planning to stock our pond soon, so the dock will be the perfect fishing spot.

We have several projects planned for the next few months. We’re going to plant our landscaping bushes this fall. Our big goal for spring is pigs, so my husband and boys are planning how to build our pig pen. At some point we’ll get quail, too. We’re still doing research on exactly what type of quail we want.

A storm rolling in one morning in June.
A storm rolling in at sunset, looking across our neighbor’s land.

I absolutely love this place. This little farm is the fulfillment of a dream. I love watching the seasons and the weather change. Watching sunsets and watching storms roll in. I’m thankful for every moment we spend here. We still have so much to learn as we add new animals and learn the ebb and flow of life here.

The Genres I Can’t Stop Reading

My reading life has gone through a major shift over the past few years. For most of my life, mystery/suspense made up the majority of my reading. After reading The Hunger Games trilogy six years ago, I added quite a few dystopian books. But over the past four years, I’ve broadened my reading horizons so much and added genres I’d never tried before. I’ve been surprised by some of the genres that hooked me. Here’s a peek at three genres I now love and the books that first hooked me.

Contemporary Romance

The book that first made me love it: Dear Mr. Knightly by Katherine Reay

This is the genre that surprised me the most. I had always turned up my nose at romance novels. I’m a sucker for a sweet, sappy movie – Sabrina and While You Were Sleeping are among my favorites – but I’d never been a romance reader, with one or two rare exceptions. But in 2015, everyone was talking about Dear Mr. Knightly and I finally decided to see what all the fuss was about. I was hooked from the first chapter. The story was so sweet and the writing was outstanding. I’ve since read everything Katherine Reay has written and added quite a few authors to my list of favorites. A pretty large portion of my TBR list now includes contemporary romance authors such as Lindsay Harrel, Rachel Hauck, and Bethany Turner.

Split Time/Time Slip

The book that first made me love it: The Reckoning at Gossamer Pond by Jaime Jo Wright

Split time fiction tells two (or more) stories in different time periods. The stories are linked together in some way. Gossamer Pond wasn’t the first split time novel I read, but it was the one that made me absolutely love this unique genre. Jaime Jo Wright, Amanda Dykes, Lindsay Harrel, Kristy Cambron, and Rachel Hauck all write amazing split time novels.

Women’s Fiction (contemporary and historical)

The book that first made me love it: Paint Chips by Susie Finkbeiner

One genre I’ve found myself reading much more of is women’s fiction, both historical and contemporary. These are novels that generally don’t include romance or include romance as a small part of the story. Many involve married couples, like Elizabeth Byler Younts’ The Solace of Water. These books often sew with heavy topics like adultery, abuse, depression, and mental illness. Authors like Elizabeth Byler Younts and Julie Cantrell are among my favorites.

What genres do you read you most? Have your reading habits stayed the same or have they changed over time?

My 3 Favorite Bible Study Methods (and Why I Love Them)

If you’re new to Bible study, it can be really confusing. There are so many options available that it can get overwhelming fast. I grew up in church and became a Christian when I was just five, but I didn’t start seriously studying the Bible for myself until I was in high school. That’s when my faith really became the center of my life. Over the years, I’ve tried many different Bible study methods. Today I’m sharing my three favorites and why I love them. First, though, I want to explain a couple of things I feel really strongly about.

It’s so important to study the Bible in context. That’s why I love book-by-book studies. You need to understand the Scripture as a whole. If you just pull bits and pieces to study, it’s easy to be led astray. You can take something out of context and get it wrong, or you can take something true and emphasize it so much that it becomes twisted. I believe it’s important to study the big picture.

Also, it’s so important to study the Bible itself. Don’t just study what someone says about the Bible. Study the Word. Teachers are people, and people make mistakes. They can fall. They can be wrong. I’ve seen so many people over the years who followed one teacher or one minister. For many, that person’s word became more important and more valued than God’s Word, and those followers were sometimes led into false teachings. I’m not saying we shouldn’t read books or do studies written by someone we respect. I’m just saying the primary focus should be the Bible itself, and we shouldn’t get focused on one teacher only.

When I study, I mainly use one of three methods. Below I’ll break down each one and show some examples of each. Ephesians is one of my favorite books of the Bible, so I’m using it as an example.


The SOAP method is an easy Bible study method that anyone can follow. SOAP stands for Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer.

S – Scripture

I usually write down the reference for the verses I’m studying. I may also write out specific verses that really stand out to me.

O – Observation

What do you notice in these verses? Are there certain commands or certain events or certain people that stand out? Note anything that seems important about the passage.

A – Application

This is the step where we note how Scripture effects us and our life. How is this personal? What did I learn? What do I need to change in my own life? How does this apply to me?

P – Prayer

Pray about what you learned. Pray specific verses, or ask God to help you live out what you’ve read.

One of my early S.O.A.P. studies

I love using the S.O.A.P. method when I do She Reads Truth studies. They offer great studies for free on their website, and they have now expanded to offer men’s and kids studies on their other sites. I mentioned that Ephesians is one of my favorite books – She Reads Truth will feature an Ephesians study next month.

2. Inductive

If you’re a visual learner (like me), inductive Bible study may be perfect for you. Inductive study involves a deep Bible study where the Word speaks for itself. You read Scripture while observing key words and phrases and marking them, then answering who, what, when, when, where, why, and how. It can seem a little overwhelming at first, but Kay Arthur has a great free guide to starting. There’s also a free guide to symbols and colors you can use to mark your Bible from a different teacher.

I created my own charts to use for my inductive study.

If you do an inductive study, I recommend starting small. Start with a Psalm, or a short book like Galatians or Ephesians. Study slowly. Take your time and dig deep into the Word. I like to do a SOAP study on a book, then follow it with an inductive study or a verse mapping study.

3. Verse mapping

Verse mapping is new to me, but I really love this for digging deep into the Word. This month, I’m doing a study with Christian fiction author Kristy Cambron’s Facebook group.

My first week of verse mapping.

Verse mapping adds a new level of depth to Bible study by digging deep into individual verses. It involves word studies, reading different translations of the same verse, and looking for repeated words and phrases. Check out Kristy Cambron’s website for tips and free downloads to get you started.

What Bible study method do you use most? Is there a new one you like to try?

5 Ways to Break Out of a Reading Slump

Every reader hits a slump from time to time. Sometimes it’s a change in life circumstances. Other times it’s boredom. COVID has changed a lot of readers’ habits this year. I’ve heard several people admit to being in a slump or having a hard time reading with so much chaos going on in our world right now.

I’ve hit my own slumps in the past. Over the years, I’ve learned a few tricks to help get back into a good reading routine and find joy in books again. Here are some things that have worked for me.

1. Change genres.

When my boys were young, I’d just started finding time to read more when I decided to go back to school. After I graduated in 2013, I was excited to finally have a chance to read again, but I found myself in a reading slump. Nothing appealed to me. I found myself bored with the type of books I’d read before kids and college. Months went by, and I was barely reading. I needed a change.

The movie Mockingjay was set to release in late 2014, and that summer everyone was buzzing about the books. After several friends recommended the series, I finally picked up The Hunger Games from our library’s reading app. I hadn’t read dystopian fiction since I read Fahrenheit 451 in junior high, so it was a new genre for me. With the first book, my reading slump was broken. I was hooked. I read the entire series in a few days. Changing genres led me to lots of new books and new authors, and my slump was broken.

2. Reread a favorite.

This has been an unusual reading year for me. I usually don’t reread many books. There are so many great stories out there that I’m always looking for something new. But this year I’ve revisited so many old favorites. I’ve reread the Chronicles of Narnia and The Hunger Games trilogy. I’m reading Tuck Everlasting, a book I loved as a child, for the Modern Mrs. Darcy reading challenge – it’s a book published in the decade I was born. Closer to Christmas, I plan to reread Little Women, the book that has shaped my life more than any other. Sometimes revisiting an old friend reminds you of why you fell in love with reading in the first place.

3. Switch formats.

Life circumstances can change your reading habits a lot. When we moved to Oklahoma last year, I found work in a nearby town. The drive meant that I spent 35 to 45 minutes driving to work. Suddenly I was spending as much as an hour and a half commuting every day. With a full time job, family, home, church, and other commitments, that didn’t leave me with much time to read. Audiobooks became my main reading method. Thanks to the Hoopla app and my library card, I got tons of reading done on that commute.

Recently I accepted a job right in the town where we live. My commute is now five minutes. I still listen to audiobooks when I’m crocheting or working around the house, but I find myself reading ebooks and physical books a lot more. I’m so glad for all the options readers have now!

4. Read a YA or middle grade book.

C. S. Lewis said, “A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.” He was right. As an adult, I’ve found that I love my childhood favorite books as much or more than I did as a child. The Chronicles of Narnia, Madeleine L’Engle’s Time Quintet, and classics like L. M. Montgomery’s Anne series often take on a new, deeper meaning when read as an adult. I’ve even read a few classic books that I missed when I was younger. The Giver became an immediate favorite when I read it a few years ago.

5. Read with a theme.

Have you heard of a “book flight”? Anne Bogel explains this concept in a Modern Mrs. Darcy post. It’s basically a grouping of books that pair well together. Emily C. Gardner has some great examples on her blog. Here’s a sisters book flight and a Jane Eyre book flight that look great! Choose a few books about a topic that fascinates you and read them together. It could be books set in a city you love, books about food, or books about an event in history. Do a little research and dive in.

What have your reading habits been like this year? Have you hit a reading slump this year or in the past? If you’ve been through one, what helped you break out?

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