The Speckled Goat's "Tops" of 2015

Hello, lovely readers! 2015 has been quite a year here on my little corner of the internet, and truly, it's all because of you.

For serious.

Without you reading my thoughts (as random as they often are), sharing them and commenting on them, this little blog wouldn't have grown nearly as much as it did this year. I'm indebted to you guys, and I'm humbled that you take the time to read what I have to say. Truly humbled.


Okay, enough with the mushy stuff. Let's get to doing a little review!


Through the Fog

Life feels foggy lately. We can't see what's coming up next, and we're afraid of hidden dangers. But there's one big difference for those of us who know Christ.... | The Speckled Goat

Driving home was going... well, not so great.

It was about ten o'clock, and the winter sun had gone down hours ago. I was headed back from my small group with a bunch of wonderful ladies, and my car seemed so quiet compared to all the conversation and laughter we'd been sharing.

As I turned down the road headed out of town, the fog closed in.

Winter fog in Iowa is no joke. It's thick, and it's cold- so cold that when the misty air hits the trees, the moisture freezes and makes landscapes that look like something out of a fairy tale. As beautiful as the final result is, it's not terribly fun to drive through.

I know the route very well, I trust my little car, and I knew I'd be home soon, but that didn't really help my white-knuckled anxiety.

Not really knowing what I would encounter just a few yards in front of me was kind of nerve-wracking- especially with the hidden dangers of deer, tractors, and obstacles in the road that were all very real possibilities.

It can be kind of scary to be heading in a direction without being able to really see where we're going.


Blessings this Week: 12.18.2015 Edition

We had a bit of a whirlwind few weeks (which is why I missed last week's blessings post- forgive me!). I'm going to attempt to catch up a little, here. Wish me luck. 

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After all that snow, we've had warm weather and rain, and lots and lots of mud. I just love these big, muddy boots on the porch.

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I'm reminded how thankful I am for our "Camp family." They are all so dear to us. 

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Protecting Hardwood Floors with Tennis Balls

New, beautiful hardwood floors have to be protected from furniture legs- but so many protectors are expensive or just don't work... see how she protected her floor with tennis balls!

Now that my hardwood floors have been refinished (hallelujah), I'm freaking out like a crazy person every time I drop a spoon ("Did it DENT my floor??").

It's all about authenticity, right?

Honestly, though, I know that these floors are going to be lived on. Life will happen on these floors. I will drop stuff and dent the floor. I will scratch it up. God willing, someday a child may scribble on it with crayon. That's life. I get it.

But, just because I know damage will happen doesn't mean that I won't prevent it if I can. We learned, during the restoration, that this is it for the kitchen- there's not enough of the hardwood left to refinish the floor again. When the time comes that the kitchen floor is kaput (hopefully like, 50 years from now), we'll be replacing it, not reclaiming it.

I'd like to keep my floors as protected as possible, and being that furniture tends to be the toughest on floors, I wanted to keep chair legs and tables from scraping up all our hard work.


Jammin' on my Planner: 2016 Planner Prep and Free Printables!

Planner pages free planner printable

It's been a while since I've shared anything about The Binder- but it's still alive (er, around?) and well. And well used.

Because a planner is only as good as you use it.

Also, I've been watching a heck of a lot of Parks and Recreation, and Leslie's planner love mirrors my own.

Because I'm a total crazy person and I'm still trying to find the perfect planner page set up, I moved from my day-on-two page structure last year...


Our Very Real Advent

The smell of fresh-baked cookies. A crackling fire in the fireplace. Red bows and candles in the window. Warm and bright and cozy and full of hazy-eyed wonder.

None of these things represent our Advent season this year.

This year, Advent looks like this:

There are two dehydrators on the table because I don't have counter space enough in the kitchen and the apples are starting to go so they had to be done now. A roll of toilet paper replaces a box of tissues because we haven't found the tissues yet, and he's been out in the cold and came in with a runny nose.


Five Traits of a Ministry-Minded Marriage

aquila and priscilla acts ministry marriage working together

It's well after dark, the snow is starting to fall, and I'm in a boiler room.

"Hand me that, please," he says, motioning to the tool, one that I'm not too confident naming, in my hand.

He's got a little sweat on his forehead as he works, and I think about how many people will now have warm rooms and hot showers because of his work... but they'll never know his name. He prepares a place for people to meet with God, working before they come and after they leave, but they never really know how much work he truly does.

This is ministry.

My husband and I have been working together- at the same ministry- for the past three years. The Camp that employs us has been a lot more than a job- it's a lifestyle, it's our family, it's our nights and weekends, it's our faith in action.

It's our mission.


Blessings this Week: 12.04.2015

As Christmas approaches, I'm trying to be intentional about avoiding some of the mayhem and really taking time to reflect- to think- to process- to be present. 

And counting my blessings is one way I do just that.

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Just to be sure that we didn't think this winter thing was a fluke, November went out with a howl, and more snow. 

(And my husband, who turned off the windshield wipers so I could get this shot, without me even asking.)


Refinishing Hardwood Floors: The Tips and The Tools

Reclaiming our hardwood floors ended up just like most remodels:

More time consuming than we expected it would be.

In part, that's because we're both working full time, and because there were some unexpected delays thrown in there.

And in part, it's because we're a little... optimistic.

In truth, refinishing our hardwood floors, by ourselves (with the exception of some much appreciated family and friends who we begged to come help us), was a lot of work. There are a lot of details that I didn't realize were a part of this project.

And we ended up needing a lot more stuff than I thought we would... a lot of it that I wouldn't have ever thought we could need. It's a really good thing that I have a hubby who's experienced in these kind of projects and had a lot of this on hand- otherwise we would have had to make far more trips to the hardware store than we did.


Reclaiming Christmas

Christmas morning dawned bright- and for all intents and purposes, it seemed a perfect, idyllic, postcard-worthy holiday. Still in our pajamas, my three sisters and I hovered around the tree that had been ringed with presents in colorful wrapping just overnight.

Even as a newly-thirteen-year-old, I could appreciate the beauty of the day, despite the fact that I sort of thought I was too old to show it.

There was just one problem, though; the anticipation, the wonder, the surprise... was gone.