Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A Big Thanks to all of You!

We would like to thank all of you blog readers out there, to the ones that have been faithfully following our blog for years, and also for those of you who are new to the blog!  Some of you know our family personally, so you can keep tabs with us on here.  Others of you have been referred from others and still many of you have read our courtship story that was published in the No Greater Joy magazine and have come over to the blog to read "the rest of the story".

We greatly appreciate all the comments that you have written in.  It's been a joy to read what everyone has been saying about the courtship.  We also would like to thank you for all the prayers that are going up on our behalf.  We are eternally grateful that there are people out there willing to take our relationship to God and ask for His will to be done in and through it.

Just wanted to let you all know how much we appreciate you!
Thanks so much!

Monday, January 26, 2015

My Red Rose Bouquet!!!

Here are a few more pictures of the bouquets that Matthew got me!

Savannah and I went back out to the woods to take the pictures, the spot where Matthew and I sat after our walk, and the same spot where my flowers were sitting, waiting for me to find them.

Flowers are delightful....

One very happy girl!

I feel very blessed indeed!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Matthew's Visit: Days 6 & 7

Saturday rolled around, and it was Joel and Matthew's last full day at our place.  They would be heading out Sunday after the church service.  So, we decided to make the most of our day.

We started out by milking together with my grandmother and then headed up to bottle feed the baby goats, which was our routine for most of the mornings and evenings.

As I mentioned in one of the earlier posts, Matthew and I made it a point to have devotions together in the mornings after chores.  We also have been working on memorizing passages of scripture together, which is what we are doing in the pictures below...repeating it back for the other person to check us on it.

During Matthew's whole visit with us, my family pitched in with all of the extra chores, giving me as much free time as they could.  We even had about 22 baby goats born while he was here, and had some customers coming out throughout the week to look at them, and my family handled pretty much all of the first kidding season.  Add that to all of the normal chores and they were pretty busy.  I appreciate all the hard work that they put in to let me spend time with Matthew while he was here so much!  They are the best family a girl could ask for!

Around lunchtime, Matthew, Joel, Noah and I headed to town.  We decided to take one more walk through Hopeland Gardens since it was our last day together.  Joel had some computer work that he wanted to get done, so we dropped him off at the local McDonald's and headed for the Gardens.  

Noah was our photographer that day and he did a fabulous job!

It was rainy out that day, so we decided to take a couple of umbrellas, and it was good we did, as it started sprinkling on and off throughout our walk.  
(It was not that warm of a day, but Matthew had taken off his sweatshirt so that we could sit on the bricks without getting wet.)

Being silly...!!!!  He's so much fun to goof around with.

Noah...our wonderful chaperone.


Simply enjoying being together....

Walking some more....

Hmmm...this road or that? 

Here we are inside the old stables that have now been renovated into a horse racing museum.  We stepped inside for a few minutes, just to take a look around.

Making faces at Noah!  
I'm usually the photographer.  I'm not used to having my picture taken so much. 
 I can't have all of them be serious, now can I?

This brick path meanders all throughout the garden and makes for a very nice stroll.  We only had to sidestep a few puddles, but we never had to get our feet dirty or muddy.

Noah...I think he might have been getting slightly bored....

From a new angle...
(See the gnarly, twisted oak tree in the corner!  There are a ton of live oaks throughout the gardens.)

We decided to stop at this reflection pond to pray...

After Hopeland Gardens we stopped by the Way family's house (my piano students and good friends) so that they could meet Matthew.  They were all very excited to meet him and they even played a few songs for him on their piano.  

That evening, we milked early and then headed out to a new pizza place that we'd never been to.  They ended up having a ping-pong table there, so we played while we were waiting for our pizza to cook.  Mom ended up being reigning champion, beating Dad, Joel and Matthew several times!  She had a ping-pong table growing up and was quite good at it, beating Dad many times before he practiced up on his spin moves, enabling him to pull some tricks on her!  (We enjoyed playing so much that all of us kids pitched in with Mom and Dad and bought a foldable ping-pong table for our place!  It has become our favorite past time and we are all improving our skills with the game.  Ethan and Savannah are really getting quite good at it!)

Later that night, when we got home we played family Cranium.  It was a hoot!  In the pictures below, Joel and Ethan had to sit back to back and stand up together without using their hands.  They made it look so easy; they ended up doing it a few times just to prove that their was nothing to it!

Sunday dawned bright and early.  After milking and feeding and then eating breakfast, Matthew and I shared one last devotion time together before getting ready for church.  Matthew and Joel then both packed up Matthew's car, and we headed for church.

Matthew brought several of his instruments, so he was asked if he wanted to join in the worship service.  He thrilled everyone by playing his guitar, penny whistle, and dulcimer!

After the service, they loaded up the instruments, got a quick bite to eat and then it was time to say our goodbyes...

Enjoying the porch swing at church...

Matthew works for his brother in the landscaping business, but since it is in Ohio and there isn't too much lawn and landscape work to do in the winter, there are usually three months off after nine months of hard work.  Since he gets most of the winter off, after spending the week at our place, Matthew has spent the last several weeks down in Florida, where Joel lives, doing some landscaping work for a friend, working on his music, fixing his buddy's car, reading articles and studying books, and doing a lot of praying for his future.  He will be arriving back at our place near the beginning of February and will be spending at least two more weeks with us, working alongside us and seeing more of what everyday life is like for us.  

So...until next time....

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Matthew's Visit: Day 5 continued....

Okay, so is anyone a little curious as to the big surprise that Matthew had been secretly working on.  All Friday morning he spent in his room, while we cleaned up the kitchen and tidied up the house.  He didn't tell me what he was doing, but I'm not one who likes to pry, so although I was curious, I didn't ask any questions.  Ethan told me he was just packing and getting ready for leaving on Sunday. Hmmm....okay...

When lunchtime rolled around, he suggested we eat and then head over to Flannigan's, an ice cream parlor I had been wanting to go to with him.  Sounded like a great idea to me!  What girl would turn down ice cream?!!

Off we headed, with Joel as our chaperone...
When we arrived at Flannigan's he surprised me by suggesting we share a banana split!

While he was paying, Joel had already picked himself out a table and was hooking up his laptop with earphones.  I was looking around for a nice spot in the small little building and when I turned around Matthew was holding a beautiful red rose in his hand, that had apparently been waiting for us to get there!
 As we sat down at a corner table, I noticed that my rose had a little note attached to it that read:
"Back and forth enjoy the weather,
A favorite place to sit together."

Hmmm....a clue in a rhyme?

He knows that I love porch swings, so that was my guess, but I still wasn't catching on to the whole concept of what was going on.  We sat there enjoying our ice cream, as well as my rose, chatting about everything and nothing in particular.

He asked me if I was ready to go, and I said I wasn't in a hurry, so we talked a little while longer.  He then asked me if I was ready to go again, and since we had finished our ice cream, I said sure.  He mentioned something about Dad wanting us home in time for dinner.
Our delicious banana split!

When we arrived home, I started walking inside, when he asked me if I wanted to sit on the porch swing for a few minutes before heading in.  He was smiling and it finally dawned on me what was going on.  Oh yes!  I'd love to sit on the swing.  This was a scavenger hunt!

When we got close to the swing, there on it's seat was another beautiful red rose!  With a note attached to it.  We sat on the swing together and read the next clue...

"I have three of these with me at night
When I go to sleep I hold them tight."

Sure enough, when I pulled back the covers from my bed, there was another rose waiting for me!
The clue on that one read:
"Christmas is beautiful during the nights.
It is very romantic seeing the lights."

This one took me a little while because we had been a few different place with Christmas lights, but they were all traveling distance.  Our Christmas tree finally came to mind, but I looked it over several times and could not find a rose.  

Everyone was looking on, watching me as I tried to find my roses, so  as I was about to give up on the clue being the Christmas tree, Ethan said, "Look a little harder..."
Sure enough, right under my ornament, another gorgeous red rose was tucked into the tree...

Me, with my ever-growing bouquet!

On the rose that I found in the Christmas tree, the clue read:
"You had some pictures taken, of which you sent me some
Of you with your bouquet of flowers, you were standing in the one."

Obviously, this clue must have been referring to the orange rose bouquet he sent me when we started courting.  I was trying to think about which picture I had been standing in.  Oh yes, the one next to Mom's young oak tree.  I traipsed outside to the oak tree and...yup.  There, resting on a limb, was another red rose.  That clue said...
"Once a week I look for it.
I love to read them, I would admit."

Having fun....!

Well, once a week, Matthew and I send each other an email, which would make sense since it's something you read....so off to the computer I headed.

True to the clue, there was another delicate red rose waiting on the keyboard of the computer.

On this rose the note went,
"When we are apart your absence leaves a hole.
But when we are together you fill my "Heart and Soul"."

Okay, so for those of you who have been paying close attention to our previous blog posts, you'll remember that the duet that Matthew and I play together is called "Heart and Soul".  So right away my thoughts went to the piano which is upstairs in our bedroom.  But...I had just been upstairs a few roses ago to find the one on my pillow, and I hadn't seen a rose on the piano.  After a little coaxing, I headed upstairs to find out.

What do you think was waiting for me there?
If you guessed a rose....well, you're right!  How did you know?!!
The only thing I couldn't figure out was how I had missed that rose when I came to get the pillow one.  My family finally clued me in at the end.  (While I was walking around searching for the next rose, they were walking around placing the next one out as needed.  As a matter of fact, I had been wondering how the very first rose had ended up at Flannigan's ice cream shop to begin with, since Matthew had never left the house.  Dad had actually picked up the roses, dropped the first one off at the ice cream parlor with the clue, and had taken the rest down to my grandparents house till we left.

This clue read:
"You did so well, everything went smooth...
...Till you came to a halt, then the ____ wouldn't move."


This one threw me for a loop for a while.  It took me quite some time to figure out that this clue was referring to his CAR, when he took me out to teach me to drive a stick shift!  I had just traveled home from Flannigan's in Matthew's car though, and there was no rose in there, but I had learned by now that roses were appearing out of nowhere, so to just go check the car.  Sure enough, there sat another red rose right on the stick shift.  
This clue read:
"You were so tired from such a long day
I read you a book and you drifted away."

Remember how I had told you that we had stayed up late on New Year's Eve...like really late.  Well, that next night I was so tired.  But I did not want to go to bed early, because that would mean time wasted while Matthew was here.  He only had a few days left folks!  So instead of going to bed early, Matthew suggested that he could read to me while we sat on the couch.  As he read, I decided to just rest my eyes a little, but I ended up falling asleep.  

So, my next clue led me to the couch.  However, I couldn't find a rose there, so I ended up looking for the book that Matthew had read the night before.  Still no luck.  I tried to get Matthew to give me some clues, but to no avail, so I checked the couch again, and sure enough there was a rose, tucked under the end table.  (It ended up that the rose had been there, but it was tucked so far under the end table, that I hadn't seen it the first time.  While I was searching for the book, Ethan had run over and pulled the rose into view.)

On this rose, the clue went:
"There is something of mine I love to share
It makes us warm, its an item you wear."

Aha!  I had this one!  Matthew has loaned me his soft, warm, green jacket on several occasions when I'm cold, so this was an easy one.  I turned to where he was standing in the kitchen and asked him if he had a rose for me.  He tried to sound innocent like he didn't know what I was talking about, but he opened his jacket soon enough and handed me yet another beautiful red rose from inside his sweater.

This note said,
"The sun is warm and the birds are singing
Then all of a sudden my phone begins ringing."

Hmm...this one had me stumped as well.  All that would come to mind was one of the songs on his CD that talks about the sun shining and the birds singing, but the phone ringing part didn't really make sense.  Matthew finally ended up telling me that this clue had to do with an experience that we had shared.  It took me a few seconds to remember an incident that had happened while Matthew and I (along with our chaperone Noah) had taken a walk through the woods the day earlier and had sat down next to the tree to talk before lunch.  The sun was warm and shining bright.  Matthew had just been commenting on how quiet it was and we were listening and talking about all of the things that you could hear if you were quiet, like the birds singing, when all of a sudden his cell phone rang.  It was Dad telling us that lunch was ready!

Got it!  So out to the woods we headed and this time Matthew followed me out there.  There, exactly where we had been sitting, sat a huge bouquet of red roses!  Oh my!  Now, I not only had an armful of beautiful red roses that I had gathered during the scavenger hunt, but I also had a lovely arrangement of red roses in a vase!

Matthew, watching on...

You can imagine my surprise when I saw the second bouquet!  Red roses are not cheap, folks, so I knew that Matthew had just spent a pretty penny for this fun scavenger hunt for me!

Matthew and I with all the roses!

One very happy girl!

Walking back to the house....

Matthew and I with both sets of roses.  I am indeed blessed to be in a courtship with such a thoughtful man as Matthew.  

Reading through the clues again....

Matthew had been trying to get me an even two dozen roses, but since it was right after the holidays, and it was a weekend, he had a hard time finding that many.  He ended up with 21 vibrant red roses.  Since the final arrangement was so large, no more roses would fit in the vase, so I ended up with two bouquets.  One for the kitchen table....
...and one for my nightstand!

Aren't they lovely?!!

It was a wonderful, fun experience and I very much appreciate all the thought that everyone put into making it happen!  And thanks, Matthew, for putting the whole thing together for me!  I had a lovely time!  It was a very special surprise, one that I will always remember!