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What's Living Inside?

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As crazy as this may sound, our trees are full of holes. In the yard between our house and the barn garage, there are half a dozen trees with massive holes in their trunks. Every now and then it's fun to see what's inside them.

It's not difficult to imagine fuzzy neighbors curled up inside, getting out of the weather.

Some are full of leaves and twigs, making an insulated place to sleep and raise baby creatures.

Others are just falling apart, leaving huge gaps in the wood.

The woods here are changing every day as animals make, fix and leave their tree-trunk dens. That means there will always be something new and interesting to look at as we walk around the property.

Sunshine Behind The Storm Clouds Of Life

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For some reason, spring is elusive in southern Iowa this year. We've had so much rain and so much snow that we feel like it will never end. Whoever is holding the snow globe we're living in ... please stop shaking it. We're ready for blue skies and warmer temperatures!

Unfortunately, there have been more cloudy, stormy days than usual. At least it seems that way. We've been more apt to wake up to a dark sky, like the one pictured here, than sunshine. We know it's back there, though, even in the midst of the storm.

Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses. He taketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven. Psalm 107:28-30

So many people we know are going through storms right now, and not just the thunder-and-lightening kind. They're facing illness, sadness, death, financial difficulties and fear of the unknown. T…

Booth Brothers

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We were so blessed to be able to attend the Booth Brothers' concert in Pella last weekend. It had been at least three years since we'd seen them in person, and their music touched our hearts in so many different ways.

I have always loved their song "The Blind Man Saw It All," and hearing it in person is amazing. "A Moment Of Grace" meant a lot to us this year as a couple, and being invited to sing with the Booth Brothers on several hymns was the icing on the cake.

While the songs were a testimony in themselves, we were also moved by the preaching between songs. One nugget in particular was especially powerful.

Even knowing that I would sin, God created me anyway. He knew where I would reject Him, walk away and do incredibly selfish things, God decided there needed to be one of me in the world. And because those sins would separate me from Him, He sent His Son to die in my place. That kind of love will never be found here on earth, but we'll lavish in i…

Sorry, You'll Have To Take The Financial Staircase.

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Wouldn't it be wonderful if there was an escalator that would whisk you away to your financial goals? You just step on, hold tight and arrive in your desired location. No mess, no hassle, no fuss. Then you could reap the benefits of being financially stable.

This is where I pinch you so you'll wake up.

Financial security isn't something to which you arrive, but something you work toward.

Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds. For riches are not for ever: and doth the crown endure to every generation? Proverbs 27:23-24

Diligence means taking your financial journey one step at a time. No fair skipping steps or trying to find the escalator. There are no shortcuts in this trip.

Here are just a few other things to keep in mind:

* Money spent on small things can't be saved for bigger things.
* Figure up your hourly wage, then compare that to the amount you're spending. Is that purchase worth the time it would take to earn that much …

The Animals Are Just Getting Warmed Up

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Nature is coming alive out here on the property as the temperatures warm up. We can look out any window at any given moment and find some kind of wildlife. The puppies are especially suspicious of the shifty squirrels digging in their yard.

This spring, for the first time, we have two pairs of pied-billed grebes. They're small diving ducks that are amazing to watch - they'll flip over and completely submerge themselves to find food under the water. They're very small ducks, and we're on the lookout for their platform nests.

We also have very skittish turtles. It's very difficult to take their picture because they can see and hear everything. We have a great log that reaches from the bank of the small pond several feet into the water, and they line up on it every afternoon to sunbathe.

There is always a collection of beavers, muskrats, otters and other furry creatures around the ponds, too. The beavers we're not too fond of because they're cutting down our …

Words For Wednesday

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BBQ Meatloaf

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Recipe inspiration can come from anywhere. While having dinner with friends recently, we ate an amazing BBQ meatloaf. It was tender, moist and so flavorful. Thinking about my own meatloaf recipe, one I've made dozens of times, I realized I could do something similar and make it my own.

So here's my traditional, go-to meatloaf with an added BBQ twist. What can you tweak in your own recipe?

Ingredients:
2 pounds lean ground beef
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup honey BBQ sauce
1/2 cup quick oats
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp dried oregano

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a loaf pan with nonstick spray.

2. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. Transfer to loaf pan.

3. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, until top is browned and crusty. Drizzle top with additional BBQ sauce. Let stand 5-6 minutes before serving.