12.08.2014

Books in Hand // The Announcement of the Year!

It's the news we've all been waiting for!!!

...at least, I hope I'm not the only one who has been anxiously awaiting this day :)



71 boxes of books arrived at my house on Friday, over a week earlier than I expected, which I am quite excited about! In Paths of Righteousness is officially available for sale, and can be found on my website! Also, Stories by Keri Nicole is now on Facebook...so I guess I'm supposed to tell you to "like" me on Facebook, but I hope you liked me even when I wasn't on Facebook ;) And to those of you who know me--I know, I can't believe I actually did it... :D

A HUGE thank you to all those who have supported me in this project. I praise the Lord for each one of you and the encouragement you are. 



Spread the word, I have a lot of books to sell! :)




12.02.2014

Thoughts From the Tractor Seat // Field Bindweed

One lovely morning this summer I went for a walk--something I often do when the weather is nice. There's a lane behind our house that winds along the creek and back through the field, which is my favorite place to walk.



When I was out that morning, I noticed a vine growing in the corn. It had these really pretty purple flowers on it, and I decided to take a picture of one with my phone. 



Thinking nothing more of it, I walked on and forgot about it entirely.

Until...

One chilly October afternoon we were shelling corn in the field across the lane from where I'd seen the vine and this is what we found:



This terrible vine had grown up in the corn and completely taken over. Winding its way up the stalks and branching out across an area twice the size that this picture shows, it literally strangled the corn and brought it down to the ground. The infested area was such a tangled mess that the combine couldn't get through it. The vine wouldn't feed through the head and just got all bound up in the auger. I've never seen anything like it before. Dad and I spent a good while pulling all those crazy vines loose and speculating on what this obnoxious weed might be. We had no other choice but to go around that spot, and it's still out there right now, unharvested. 


I did some research and found out that the vine is called Field Bindweed. Fitting name, eh? That's what I thought. :) It comes from the same family as Morningglory and is a perennial (great...). I learned a lot about bindweed, but the main thing that stuck out to me was the root system. A six week old plant can have a taproot up to 2 feet deep and as many as 6 lateral roots which will grow out 1' - 3' and then turn down, essentially becoming taproots themselves. If left unchecked for only three seasons, one plant can extend out 18 feet and penetrate a depth of up to 20 feet. I just have to say it--holy cow! That is ridiculous! It's really hard to get rid of as well, as I'm sure you guessed already. But I won't bore you with all of the details... :) 

In thinking about this, I see so many different applications I don't know which one to go with! So, I'd like to do something different and hear from all of you. What spiritual application do you see?

Consider the following:

  • the beautiful flowers
  • the destructive nature of the vine
  • the crazy root system
  • the fact that it can't be harvested
  • the way that it completely took over
  • the crippling effect on the plant

Let me know what you think! Here's a verse that came to my mind:


"Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage." 
~Galatians 5:1 

(That's better, don't you think?!)

I can't wait to hear from you all!


11.22.2014

All Kinds of Excitement

Wow, this week has been crazy in just about every way. Complete with snow, ice, a bitter wind, and temperatures between 10 - 20 degrees some days...I don't know about any of you, but I was not ready for winter to come! At least not yet. 

We started out the week with a lot of corn yet to be harvested, and though the weather conditions aren't what we'd prefer to work in, we didn't have much of a choice. And complaining won't change anything, so why bother, right? So, we bundled up and went out, thankful that the days of cabless tractors ended a long time ago around here! And of course we look forward to coming in and sitting next to the wood stove with a cup of coffee--if you're Dad, that is. I know I'm boring, and Dad gives me a hard time about it, but I'll just stick with my hot chocolate! :) 

In the midst of desperately trying to finish up harvest, my book happened to be in the final stages of editing, with a ton of last minute things that needed to be done there. I sat on the couch with my laptop working on that basically all day Monday and most of Tuesday.

Wednesday I returned to grain cart duty, feeling like a free woman to have the editing behind me and to be back in the tractor seat again. But within a couple of hours, the snow had plugged up the sieves on the combine, so we quit for the day. 

Then on Thursday a couple of guys from the Case dealer brought out a red combine for us to demo. Now that wasn't our idea, it was theirs!! Just so we're clear on that! (Remember, we're John Deere people here!) But hey, if they're just going to let us try it out for a day, why not, right? And wouldn't you know but that machine made one round in the field and broke down... :) To be completely honest and fair though, even though I'm partial to green, I got to drive it for a little while and thought it was pretty nice. { cough } Of course I've been driving the only red tractor on the farm for the last month and a half, so I guess I don't have any room to speak! I was actually very impressed that we could harvest at 4 mph in the Case IH, whereas 2.5 is about the limit in our John Deere. 

But anyways, you all didn't really want to know all of that I'm sure. :) The big excitement of the week is...

#3: My dog had seven puppies on Thursday!

Definitely an answer to prayer...these little guys are going to help me pay for a book! Anyone want to buy a puppy?!


Lady Carliss (anyone else a Knights of Arrethtrae fan?!) and her babies
#2: We're done with harvest!!

Once again, God has blessed us with a safe and bountiful harvest, and we praise Him for it. What a relief to be done!

And now, the news that I've anxiously been waiting to share with you all week! Or all month...or really all year.... 

#1: My book has officially gone to print!!!!

I don't know what more to say than that! Praise the Lord, it's actually going to happen!!

Plenty of excitement for one week, don't you think?

I know harvest is over, but I've still got a few "thoughts from the tractor seat" to share with you. So stick around!  And next month I will have a book for you all to read! :)


11.18.2014

Thoughts From the Tractor Seat // A Little Accident

Okay, so I'd really rather not explain how this happened...let's just say it was my fault, and leave it at that. :) 



The minute this little "incident" took place, I jumped out of the tractor to assess the damages. Hearing a distinct hissing noise coming from the tire, I immediately felt sick. Man, I'd really blown it this time. And of course I had to call Dad to tell him what just happened. Gulp. 

Isn't that the worst feeling? When I know that I've said or done something incredibly stupid, and I have to admit it to someone else--it's so hard for me. But there wasn't much of another option, so I called Dad right away. Told him everything, and he said he'd come check it out. I sat there on the steps of the tractor until he came, head in my hands, trying not to cry because that isn't the grown up thing to do. :) But I still felt awful. 

When Dad arrived, he gave me my supper, and before even looking at the tire, he said "Hey, don't worry about it, ok? I've made a lot bigger mistakes than this." He didn't get upset, or ask me what I was thinking, or tell me that I should've been more careful. He just told me that it was ok.

We looked everything over and determined that the tire could be fixed without having to replace it, and that the other piece of equipment involved had suffered only minimal cosmetic damages. The tire wasn't loosing air very fast, so I was able to keep running it for another hour or two. 

I am so thankful for my dad's patience with me. The way that he offered such a gentle, forgiving response reminded me of my Heavenly Father. Isn't He that way with us? How often I screw things up, and yet He graciously extends forgiveness to me time and time again. I'm so grateful that God does not get angry with me when I sin, but that when I confess it to Him, He lifts the shame and gently reminds me that I am forgiven

Not that there are never consequences....We didn't have to replace the tire, but now it has a slow leak and goes flat about every other day. I've had to limp home from the field numerous times to fill it back up. But every time that I do, I'm reminded of how much I am loved, and I thank God for His patience with me, and of course for giving me such an awesome dad!





11.11.2014

Thoughts From the Tractor Seat // Fire

Fire

There's something about that word that makes a person's heart start racing. We all know what fire is capable of doing--

to houses. to barns. to forests. to people...

...and for us farmers, we know well what fire can do to a combine. In a matter of minutes. 


This is NOT our combine, praise the Lord! But I found this picture on the internet so y'all could get the idea. There are a lot of things that can cause a combine fire, and once it starts, there is so much that can burn. Dry grain, lots of chaff and dust, rubber, plastic, not to mention over 200 gallons of diesel fuel. Once a fire starts, there's no way of knowing how fast it will take off, or how far it'll go. That's why we always keep a fire extinguisher in the cab. 

So, it was about 11:20 at night. Grandpa was driving combine, and I was in the grain cart. We were on our last field of soybeans, and so very close to being finished. If everything went smoothly, we would've been done in about an hour. I was at the other end of the field, and just starting to turn the tractor around when my phone rang. It was Dad.

"Hey, Grandpa needs your help, he's got a fire!"

Immediately, I began to feel my heart thumping somewhere up in my head as I kicked it into high gear and took off full throttle across the field. I could see an orange glow up by the hopper, and Grandpa was already climbing up into the back end with the fire extinguisher. I jumped out of the tractor, raced to the combine, and had barely gotten to the top of the ladder when Grandpa said,

"We've gotta call 911! This fire extinguisher is empty!"

What a helpless feeling. We were out in the middle of the field, three miles away from home, with a combine fire and our hands seemingly tied behind our backs. It wasn't a big fire, but that didn't matter. It could turn into a big fire really quickly and we needed to do something right now. Out of breath, with heart pounding, I called 911 and very carefully explained what was going on and exactly where we were at. The guy on the other end very calmly replies, "Okay, we'll send someone out." 

I could only hope that he was going to take this seriously, because by the tone of his voice, I wasn't too convinced.

Thankfully, this particular field was only about a mile away from the fire department, otherwise I don't want to know how long it would've taken them to get there. They arrived at last...with an ambulance. Seriously, are you kidding me? We have a fire here, people! By this time, Dad was there, my brother had come, and Greg, who was harvesting the field right next to us had also come to help. I ran out to the road to meet the guys in the ambulance, and they casually followed me back to the combine with their fire extinguisher. They obviously weren't in any hurry, and we were getting a little frustrated. 


Like I said, it wasn't a big fire, but it's still a fire, and it certainly won't put itself out. A fire truck and several other emergency vehicles arrived over the next 10 or 15 minutes, but by that time, Dad, Derek and Greg had it under control with the fire extinguisher. When it was all said and done, there was a lot of melted wiring and a couple of parts that needed to be replaced, but nothing major. Praise the Lord that it wasn't any worse than that.


***
Now, for an application:
You and me, we're the combine, and there's a fire burning inside that could destroy us. If it doesn't get put out, we won't be able to accomplish the work that we're called to do, and we could very well end up a pile of twisted metal and melted rubber. It's the problem of sin. It's no stranger to us as believers. It's constantly there, trying to bring us down and make us weak, ineffective Christians who blend in with the rest of society. We all deal with it, but how do we deal with it? What are we doing about the fire inside of us? Have we become so deadened to sin that we don't think it's a big deal? Do we excuse it away because it's "just a little fire"?  

Let's not get so mesmerized by the glow, and the crackle, and the warmth, that we forget how dangerous it is, and how much God hates it. And let's not try to justify the mess we're in because it's not a "big deal". You never know how quickly it will spin out of your control. Face it, you can have everything together on the outside, but you know what's going on in your heart and in your mind. There's a fire burning. I've walked many miles down that road. I know.

So again, I ask, what are we doing about it? What am I doing about the sin that is so real in me?

We find it way too easy to think lightly of sin. Or maybe it's our Savior that we think so lightly of. Like salvation is some kind of fire insurance. Combine catches on fire and we just roast marshmallows and watch it burn. Why not, it's all paid for, right?

But Christ did not give His life so that we could be justified IN our sin. He died so that we could be redeemed OUT of it. 
Have victory OVER it.

And we don't do battle against the flesh in hopes of being delivered from the bondage of sin. We fight because we have been delivered, we are new, and we will not let the old man of corruption rule over us.

There's a war raging. Always a battle to fight. Let's not just stand around. Let's fight it...like a man! :) We've been given everything that we need in order to have victory. It's right in front of us...no, He's living inside of us. In Christ, we are more than conquerors. So what's holding us back?

God has given us the tools, the armor, and the strength. 
Let's fight the fire. 

"Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul." 
-II Peter 2:11






11.06.2014

Thoughts From the Tractor Seat // Filled



This time of year, us farmers have only one thing on our minds and that's harvest. We've spent all year in preparation for, and anticipation of, this one season. All of the work that goes into tilling the ground, planting the seed...praying for rain...and now it's time to all work together to bring in the crops.



Harvest is something that I always look forward to, and this year I have gotten to help out even more than usual, which has been very exciting! There are all kinds of setbacks and discouragements that have come along the way, but sitting in the tractor for hours upon hours has given me a lot of time to think about all these little (or not so little) incidents. I'm hoping to do a short series of blog posts on the things that God has shown me through these day to day experiences. Hopefully I will find the time...it's raining today, that's the only reason I'm in the house and doing this right now! :)

Moving along--my main job this fall has been driving the grain cart. Basically, as the combine is driving through the field, harvesting the grain, I drive along beside and the combine can unload onto my cart without having to stop. Then, once the hopper in the combine is empty, I will pull away and go dump my load onto the semi. This way, the combine never has to stop harvesting and it helps us get our work done a lot faster.



As we were driving along through the field the other day and Grandpa was dumping on me, I got to thinking about it as a picture of my relationship with God. He can only fill me if I'm walking with Him daily. When I'm driving the grain cart, I have to make sure that I'm lined up perfectly with the combine and going the same exact speed, otherwise the grain will end up on the ground rather than in the cart (an expensive mistake). If we are not being filled with the grace and strength that God offers to us, that too can be costly in our Christian lives.



God wants to be pouring into us, but if we're just sitting at the other end of the field, He can't fill us up. I was challenged to a closer walk with the Lord. I am empty and cannot fill myself, but I can put myself in a position where He will fill me. And as God pours out His wondrous love and grace and power into my life, I can in turn go and pour that out on others.



Thanks for reading! Stop by again sometime--we're going to learn all kinds of things about Bindweed, combine fires, flat tires...and who knows what other lessons I will come up with as the harvest progresses! In the meantime, may you be filled up with all the fullness of God. (Eph. 3:19)


10.21.2014

Be Astonished // From Psalm 37

The other day I was talking with a friend on the phone --  you know the kind of friend that you hardly ever talk to and don't see nearly enough; but when you do talk to them, you walk away feeling like you just took a deep breath of fresh air? Yeah, she's that kind of a friend. :) We got to talking about the awesome things that God has been doing in our lives and the way that He has been speaking to us through His Word. { side note: is it just me, or are those conversations the best ones in the whole world? What a precious bond we have with our fellow-believers! } All that to say, as I shared a passage of Scripture that has really impacted me over the last few weeks, Alex suggested that I do a blog post about it, so here goes! I hope you are as blessed by this verse as I have been.

"Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him;"
~Psalm 37:7a

Rest. My Bible had a fancy little letter in front of the word, so my eyes automatically dropped to the bottom of the page. The note simply read: 

"Be still" 

Be still in the Lord...how do you do that? The question has been on my mind for almost two weeks now. And to be honest, I don't really have a good answer. So as I was preparing to write this post, I decided to look up that word, rest, in the Strong's Concordance. The first sentence reads as follows:

to be dumb

It momentarily popped my bubble...not exactly the glorious revelation that I was hoping to find. But, I read on:

to be astonished, to stop; ... hold peace, 
quiet self, rest, be silent,...be (stand) still, tarry, wait.

To be astonished in the Lord. To be so amazed at who He is, and at what He has done for us that we can't even speak. So we quiet ourselves before God and let our hearts be astonished by His greatness.

Patiently. Again, a fancy little letter, and I glance down to see one, single word:

longingly 

To wait patiently is one thing, but to wait longingly... The dictionary would define longing as: 

"Strong, persistent desire or craving. Persistent or earnest desire."

This verse challenged me beyond what I can put into words. When I am at a place where it seems like God has stopped working in me {admit it, we all feel that way sometimes}, and even though I know He hasn't, this verse tells me how to wait. If I meditate on God's previous work in me, I should be filled with astonishment. So here I stand, in awe of Him, with an indescribable longing for more of Him. It is waiting with an earnest desire for Him to continue the good work that He has begun in us. And we know that He will {Philippians 1:6}.

This evening, may you 
Be still and astonished

in the LORD

and wait longingly for Him

10.16.2014

Book Cover!

I am sooo very excited to announce that my book, In Paths of Righteousness, has an official cover!! 



Isn't it so perfect?! I got the email right before I went to bed last night...and lets just say I had a really hard time falling asleep. :) The back cover will read something like this:


“It scares me to think what Pa will do when he finds out . . .
but we can’t keep it a secret forever.”

David Riley is a typical, hard-working farm boy of the late 1800s, growing up in a Midwest community where religion was a tradition that none dared to challenge. He and his friend Jill set out to explore the “Old Man’s Path,” to uncover the mystery of an old wives’ tale, and it turns into more of an adventure than they bargained for. When they discover long-held secrets in the town of Detweiler, David is determined to find the truth—regardless of the cost.

As he faces opposition in his search for the truth, David also finds a battle waging within.
He and his friends struggle to be kind to Henry, a cruel bully, and his mother, a widow bitter toward God. But as his hatred for Henry grows, so does the darkness in his own heart. With an emptiness that threatens to consume him, David despairs of ever pleasing God. When all prospects of finding peace appear lost, he meets a strange old recluse, thought to be long dead, who offers him both friendship and hope.


David discovers something in common with the mysterious stranger—but what binds them together threatens to tear his family and community apart. Will he have the courage and determination to stand for what is right? Facing rejection in the greatest decision of his life, David must choose which path to follow: a religious tradition to live by or a faith to die for.

Well, just wanted to share my excitement with y'all. Have an awesome weekend!


10.09.2014

The Green Dress // From Boring to Lovely

Hello!

I have a fun outfit to share with y'all today! Recently I played piano in a friend's wedding, and needed to wear certain colors. So, Mom and I went shopping...and it was a rather discouraging event. Store after store after store. Really?! How hard should it be to find a sage green or tan dress? In September! They are fallish colors, so one would think that you'd find them just about everywhere, but no! It couldn't be that easy! :) Until.....

.....at Dillard's.....on the clearance rack { <3 } ....we found this:






...for the lovely price of $16!!! I was so excited to have found something in the right color, the right size, not too short, no plunging neckline...I would've paid good money for that dress, but $16!!! This is exciting! Relieved to have found something, I didn't stop and consider how perfectly boring the dress was until a couple of days later. Then I realized it was going to need a little help! :0 Did I mention that it wasn't too short? Obviously, you can tell that from the picture! ;) 

So, I got out my scissors and commenced to amputating a great deal of the lower portion of the dress.













After measuring, marking, cutting, pinning, going to great lengths to make sure it was straight, re-pinning several times, and finally sewing up a new hem, I had a dress that I was much happier with! 

Now for the fun part!

To dress it up, and eradicate any last traces of boring... 


....the belt was a definite must. It breaks up the "plainness" of the dress. 


....it needed a little brown sweater....
(also on clearance!) 





...and of course a little bit of jewelry is always fun. :)

Totally did not get a picture of the shoes....

But, anyhow, here it is: 



I was so excited to see how this outfit came together. It was a lot of fun, and even though I had to put an hour or two of work into it, I didn't have to spend much money, which is worth it to me. 

I also discovered that the big piece I cut off of the bottom could be used as a scarf!


I hope that this is encouraging to some of you. There are definitely a whole bunch of ways to spice up your wardrobe a little without having to spend lots of money or lower your standards.



// Outfit Details //

Dress: Dillard's, Jones New York, $16
Sweater: Cato Fashions, $13
Belt: Kohl's, $10 ?
Shoes: Shoe Dept., Hot Cakes, $18
Necklace: Local gift shop, $25
Bracelet: gift

Hope y'all have a lovely day!
Keri





7.23.2014

Bold Faith // Worship at Sunset

The other night I went to Bible Study with some friends. We enjoyed a delicious meal and a wonderful time of talking and laughing together before the Bible Study began. We were gathered in a friend's barn at sunset, and the view was absolutely gorgeous. Sitting there, looking out over the field at a brilliantly pink sky with the sun peeking out from behind a few clouds. It seemed to be just perfect.

As I think back to that evening I am reminded of the persecuted church. We were 12 or so young adults all gathered together with our Bibles for a time of worship, study and fellowship. We talked freely about the passage, several people played guitar while we sang....and we didn't have to worry about being heard, getting caught, or being followed home. Not even a thought of something stopping us entered my mind. I knew that we were completely safe. There was nothing to worry about, nothing to be afraid of, and I am so grateful for the freedom that we have to do that. 

But there are believers in Christ all over the world who gathered for worship, maybe on that very same evening, whose story would be so much different than ours. They would say that maybe they walked for miles in the middle of the night....that they met in a barn, not because they wanted to watch the sunset, but because they wouldn't be found as easily there. They might tell you that in a group twice the size of ours, they had one Bible...or maybe they didn't. They would probably say that they spoke in hushed whispers and prayed earnestly, for the sake of their young children, that they would not be caught. And maybe they were found...beaten up, imprisoned, killed...and yet they count it a joy and an honor to suffer for the name of Jesus. 

Next week my brothers and I will be leaving to volunteer at The Voice of the Martyrs--a ministry to the persecuted church. In preparing to serve there, I think of the faith and courage of our brothers and sisters in Christ. And I wonder if I could have that much strength. Think about it. Could you? Yet I believe that there is persecution in our churches here too. It may be more subtle--it's not like we have to worry about someone coming into our services with a machete, or a machine gun, or an order from the government. But Satan is attacking the church with a vengeance. There is always going to be opposition to the truth, and when this opposition arises, do we stand back, pretend we're not looking and let it happen? Or do we hold firmly to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and speak out? We have the opportunity to demonstrate bold faith. Let's pray for the strength and courage to do just that.

6.02.2014

The Favorite // What I Wore

Thank you all so much for letting me know which picture you like the best! I was very excited about how many of you left a comment, sent me an email, or even told me in person. It really helped with my decision! :) If you haven't seen the pictures, check out my last post: Author Photos // Pick Your Favorite Out of 15 suggestions nine said that they like: 

#4 In the Hay Field

This will be the official author photo for the back of my book! #2 was the second favorite with 3 votes, 2 people liked #3 and there was only one vote for #1...sorry Grandma J.--at least this was your second favorite! ;)


// Outfit Details //
{ for those of you girls who were wondering :) }
Shirt: Pink Republic, Kohl's
Skirt: Made by me from a pair of jeans
Layering Shirt: So Perfect Tee, Kohl's
Scarf: Old Navy
Shoes: Faded Glory, Walmart



Hope y'all are having an awesome day!
               ~Keri Nicole





5.28.2014

Author Photos // Pick Your Favorite

Hey y'all!!!

I'm trying to decide on an official "author photo" for the back of my book but I'm having some difficulties! :) So, I thought I'd post my favorites and let y'all give me your input! 


Please leave a comment and let me know which one is your favorite!!





#1 Down by the Creek


#2 In the Breeze


#3 By the Fence


#4 In the Hay Field

Photos taken by my awesome cousin Kelsey.



5.23.2014

Divine Confidence // From Psalm 138:8

Good Morning!

I don't have anything to share about my book this morning, I just wanted to post the devotional that I read today. It comes from "Morning and Evening" by Charles Spurgeon. I was very blessed by it, and I hope you all are too!


"The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me."
~Psalm 138:8

Most manifestly the confidence which the Psalmist here expressed was a divine confidence. He did not say, "I have grace enough to perfect that which concerneth me -- my faith is so steady that it will not stagger -- my love is so warm that it will never grow cold -- my resolution is so firm that nothing can move it"; no, his dependence was on the Lord alone. If we indulge in any confidence which is not grounded on the Rock of ages, our confidence is worse than a dream, it will fall upon us, and cover us with its ruins, to our sorrow and confusion. All that Nature spins time will unravel, to the eternal confusion of all who are clothed therein. The Psalmist was wise, he rested upon nothing short of the Lord's work. It is the Lord who has begun the good work within us; it is He who has carried it on; and if He does not finish it, it never will be complete. If there be one stitch in the celestial garment of our righteousness which we are to insert ourselves, then we are lost; but this is our confidence, the Lord who began will perfect. He has done it all, must do it all, and will do it all. Our confidence must not be in what we have done, nor in what we have resolved to do, but entirely in what the Lord will do. Unbelief insinuates -- "You will never be able to stand. Look at the evil of your heart, you can never conquer sin; remember the sinful pleasures and temptations of the world that beset you, you will be certainly allured by them and led astray." Ah! yes, we should indeed perish if left to our own strength. If we had alone to navigate our frail vessels over so rough a sea, we might well give up the voyage in despair; but, thanks be to God, He will perfect that which concerneth us, and bring us to the desired haven. We can never be too confident when we confide in Him alone, and never too much concerned to have such a trust.



God bless,
     Keri Nicole