Tuesday, September 27, 2011

For a Friend I’ve Never Met Before Fundraiser

So, I’ve got another friend. Well, sort of. See- her husband is friends with my sister-in-law and when my sister-in-law was living with us while in vet school, we became friends with the husband, except he wasn’t a husband yet. And I haven’t seen him since he graduated from vet school and I’ve never officially met this friend (his wife). I came to be friends with her because of a different friend when my sister-in-law was visiting the new friend (because my sister-in-law is now friends with both the husband and the wife) and she found out she was coming near the different friend’s home and would my sister-in-law please bring something to her friend since she was coming to visit us?


Translation: another friend- Tamara; her husband/our friend from vet school- Ryan; my sister-in-law- Denise; my different friend/her friend- Janel

Tamara is my friend because I know her husband, Ryan because of Denise’s friendship with him during vet school years AND because Denise brought something for Janel from Tamara.

It’s a small, small world.

I’ve never met Tamara actually.

So, why am I writing about a friend I’ve never met before? ‘Cause. Smile

Tamara and Ryan have adopted a big-smiled boy from Ethiopia named Judah. But when they adopted him, they left part of their heart in Ethiopia and asked God to use them to help those in distress and He is. This past year they got involved with FOVC- Friends of Orphans and Vulnerable Children. Here’s FOVC’s mission statement:

Our mission is to educate and support orphans, vulnerable children & widows in Ethiopia,
empowering them to break the cycle of poverty and hunger as we offer them hope and independence for the future.

Tamara told me a big reason for her and Ryan choosing to adopt from Ethiopia was because of Denise and her vet mission work there! I’d just like to insert a little thought- Denise stepped out in faith when she went to Ethiopia. God placed that specific country in her heart to love. That, in turn, raised Ryan and Tamara’s awareness of Ethiopia and helped bring Judah home. And now to join the efforts of FOVC to reach many, many more. The trickle down effect, instead of growing weaker the further it extends, grows greater and greater!! That is only God! If God loved only His son, we would never be saved. But God, not sparing his Son, sent Him to die, to take away our sins. (hymn How Great Thou Art and John 3:16) From one man, many  will be made righteous. (paraphrasing Romans 5:19)

I became aware of Ryan and Tamara’s efforts with FOVC via a guest blog post on Janel’s blog. It’s a really great post and I ask that you pop over there and read her words from her heart. Tamara blogs about their adoption journey at Journey 4 Hope.

Then, when you are done, pray. Pray for whatever God puts on your heart to pray for them and for FOVC.  Pray for this organization as it grows. Pray for Tamara as she is personally involved with her time and travel over there for the hope given to us all. Then give. The puzzle is unique, fun, easy. Buy a puzzle piece per child, niece/nephew, grandchild, neighbor kid, etc. The t-shirt: Well, who doesn’t want an awesome t-shirt? Homecoming shirt- nah! A t-shirt with eternal significance? Yah!

Here is always a favorite: CASH! Plain and simple. Yep- that’ll get it done every time!!

Please do.

You know what your story could be? “So, one day, back when the old Earth still was, I read this blog of a crazy Jesus follower and she was weaving what she thought was an spectacular story of these four people she knew, but in actuality, it was really lame. Anyway, she asked for prayer and money for these orphans and widows in Ethiopia and I gave some. Huh. I never heard how that all worked out but I did it anyway and I knew it brought God glory.” Then a little brown-skinned girl with a quiet spirit about her will be courageous enough to speak up and say, “It worked out.”

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat. I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me. Matthew 25: 35, 40

Monday, September 26, 2011

Not So Stumped

The person I always go to first for thoughts is my husband. He’s usually right on. Friday’s blog post was no different. I prompted him for his thoughts and this is what he wrote me. (It’s not super cohesive with Friday’s post but is his response so I’m sharing it with you.)

“I like the phrase in Philippians. That is indeed a loaded phrase.

As far as your questions at the end. I enjoy that it is about our family and your take on it. It is about how we are living our life. It doesn’t have to sound super-spiritual or world changing to make a difference. Living life in a way that is honoring to God by what we do and how we handle things as a family is becoming a unique thing and it’s good to let that come out. And that is the primary way we are to change the world.

I will continue to say that I think the main way we honor God is to live a life that demonstrates enjoyment of God and His gifts to us; the top of that list being our family. Then we share what we have with others who have needs. That is a result of the above (i.e. enjoying God and his gifts), not the other way around. Our family should be a strong base and we should do everything to keep that base strong.  From that strong base, we should relate to everyone else in the church and community.  Our culture, even Christian culture, or especially Christian culture, tends to turn that the other way around [serve church and community yet neglect our families].”

And that, my friends, is my wonderful, thoroughly thought-out husband. I like him a lot. Red heart 

Friday, September 23, 2011


Alright, I’m stumped. I’m sitting here with my journal and Bible open. I spend hours pouring through Scripture, making notes of what God is speaking into me, and praying. I’ve got stories to tell. I don’t know where to begin.

It is said of writers and anyone else with a creative block that you just have to start writing and everything will eventually start coming together. Do you know that if I started that way, this would be the longest blog post ever? (but I’m gonna keep writing and we’ll see how long this one turns out.) Smile

The name of my blog, Best Energies Best Affections, is to remind me to put my time where it is best. It’s a catch-all blog: kids, family, food, music, motorcycles. You know, you’ve been reading. Occasionally I write something about the Word and how I see it in my life, my family’s life, the lives of others. I feel it’s been lacking on here, though it is definitely present in my life.

In my Bible study reading this past week, I was studying through Philippians 1. Paul is writing to an established church in Philippi when he pens these words

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ- to the glory and praise of God. Philippians 1:9-11

I highlighted discern what is best because, obviously, that is what struck me. How loaded is that one phrase? I immediately felt the power of Paul’s prayer in my own life, helping me to focus my attention again. In other translations the words excellent or superior are used. I also felt God calling me to pray for my family right then. There are lots of good things out there. There are lots of not-so good things out there. There are also many, many confusing things out there and that’s where I felt I needed to pray on their behalf- for their discernment for THE BEST.

Finally, (do you think my writer’s block has been moved yet?) I was reading one of my favorite blogs today. That’s right, Meg of Whatever. She’s going to this blog conference (for my family you may roll your eyes once here) called Blog Sugar and she’s excited because she gets to meet up with one of her blog friends, Joy from Joy’s Hope. Now I don’t follow Joy (yet, anyway) but I did read about her own fears about speaking at the conference (been there, done that) Then she asks the question that has sent me pursuing the answer- What does using your blog for good mean to you?

To me, it is sharing the best of my life- my family and our ins and outs, ups and downs. It’s the now where God has us. It’s the spreading of opportunities to put faith into action- supporting adoptions, funding projects, reaching out to lost people, going to events, listening to music, reading others’ blogs that far better express love in action. It’s the writing of my own personal God story.

And that’s where I’m stumped. I want to write what God reveals to me but when I get to sitting with my laptop, my fingers become tongue-tied.

What would strengthen you? What would embolden you? When you read what I do write, is God moving in you?

I really would like to hear from you today. Either leave a note in the comment box or email me. Thanks for reading my blog.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Adel CC Meet


She finished in the top 20 overall!

I don’t have pictures at the end because I had to meet her with water. And Luke was there to give every Ballard girl a thumbs up fist bump as they came through the finish!

Keep on runnin’, Audrey!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Erie Harescramble

It’s been another weekend, another harescramble, another friend to bring along.

This time we brought Audrey’s friend, Destany with us to Erie, IL. She was a blast and kept Audrey in a good mood the whole weekend!


By now, we have become experts in packing for a race, but we hadn’t anticipated rain. Note to self: pack umbrellas and rain gear from here on out.

Rain does not deter these riders. The 50cc race course labeled as sandy loam so Ben got to put to good use all the riding time he’d gotten in at the farm the last two weekends (the farm is heavy on the sandy part). With the OMA pro rider kids there, Ben ended up placing 6th overall!


Since the pro riders were they, they split up the big bikes into two different races, so Bill raced in the “C” class a little later in the morning. He had himself to compete with since the other guy he raced against in Winterset broke a rib doing a hill climb in Dayton a few weeks ago. So, yeah, he got first, but, more importantly, he improved and placed well overall.


Then we went to watch the Pros, “A’s” and “B’s”. After watching them rip through the hole shot, we headed to the hill climb. We weren’t even close to the action yet, but the bikes were zooming past and Destany remarked, wide-eyed, that it was intense. It was! The hill was quite steep, very sandy challenging, if not for the rain, which gave a bit more substance to the sand. That did not stop the pros. This is Paul Whibley, the #1 prorider, flying rather than climbing the hill!

But most of the riders didn’t have the same luck and that’s where it got messy. Even for the spectators!


I won’t show you a video clip that Audrey took because, well, it didn’t go so smoothly.

Another great race in the books!

Excuse me, now, as you can tell, I need to go take care of some laundry.

Funny story: Luke was getting some posters autographed by the pros. From last time, Luke knew to tell them his name. He said, “My name is Luke Ward.” One of the guys kind of added it on a last minute thought and Luke noticed he didn’t write the “L” too well. He mentioned that is sort of looked like a “J” and proceeded to tell the guy how to make an “L”  but then reassured him that it was okay. That got a laugh for sure!


Friday, September 16, 2011

Being Our Own Pickers

So, we’ve been out at my uncle’s farm A LOT lately! We’ve been cleanin’ up a century’s worth of “stuff”. To the untrained eye, this stuff looks like junk destined for the scrap metal bin or the garbage dumpster. Not so to the trained eye. Right away, us three girls started making a collection of things to save. My mom and dad just looked at us in disbelief as we implored that we should not throw away an old window, a rusty colander, tv trays, and a broken tractor lamp. We affectionately call our collection the “yuppy” pile. We became our own “pickers”.

So the other day, Beth, Valor and I made a run up to the farm for more. Our dad met us there so we could grab our goods and helped us cut apart bed springs and pull boards off a crumbling building. Only once did he shake his head- that was when Beth and I came around the granary with an old pig feeder.

Here’s what we ended up with (i.e. what was supposed to fit in the back of my van!)


I did it! Except I said no to two of the milk cans.


Here’s our “pickers”

Head Picker


Li’l Picker


Papa Picker


I guess I was called Grumpy Picker because I kept saying no to things. But truly, there was only so much room in the van!! Someone had to stop Beth!(And no picture of me because I’m in charge of the camera and I’m not nearly as photogenic as my sister. Isn’t she beautiful? )

Just to let you know- some of this is going to be available for purchase this weekend!!

Garage Sale/Junkin' Sale

Location: ‎6218 Prairie Ridge Road, Ames, IA

Time: ‎4:00PM Friday, September 16th

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Book to Order

You know that occasionally I refer you to a blog called The Journey. It is about Katie and her life in Uganda ministering to her children God has given her to care for. She doesn’t post very often because, of anyone, her plate is full daily taken care of all that He gives her. She is truly inspirational in living out the faith she claims. God says, God provides. Simple enough.

Katie has written a book and you can pre-order it now. You can go through our favorite, Amazon, but you can also order through 147 Million Orphans. Yes, you will pay full price. Yes, you will pay full price, plus shipping. But you can also know that Katie will get 50% of the order. It’s a toss up. Pay less for the book, but donate more. Pay full price for the book and call it good. Pay full price and give more. I’m not going to make a call on that one.

Mine is pre-ordered from 147 Million Orphans. I wanted the necklace they offer on there. Formerly unemployed, garbage selling women are taught how to make the magazine bead necklaces and in return are given money to provide for their families. Yes, you will pay full price (according to a friend, you can get them cheaper). Yes, you will pay shipping. I DON’T CARE!!!

I know my money is going to a reputable business who is personally caring for these women and children! I don’t know that about other places. (I’m sure Amazon is not donating half of their profits to Katie! If they do, please tell me- because that would only be awesome and I’m up for being surprised by happiness!)

They’ve got lots of other goodies on the website, too, so if you are in the shopping mood, this is a great place to shop around.

But more than anything, I want you to know Katie has somehow found time to write a book, Kisses from Katie and it’s for sale. I’m pretty sure you won’t be disappointed.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Just a Random Wednesday

I hope you don’t mind, but I’ve got nothing spectacular for you today. I’m kind of out of sorts. But I will show you a couple random things that cheer my heart.

Luke’s first soccer game was last night. We didn’t have any soccer socks or shorts so the boys and I sped down to Ankeny to pick some up. (Since we have been gone every weekend for the last month and a half, these kinds of errands just haven’t been getting done.) Anyway, it turns out, the store we shopped at didn’t have kid size soccer socks, so Luke is wearing X-Small men’s socks! Hah! He will be able to wear those for the next 3 years! You probably can’t tell from this picture because I didn’t have time to grab my camera.

He enjoyed the game very much but only touched the ball once. Mostly he just ran with the clump of kids around the ball, touched his new shorts (that soft material that kids love), pounding his shin guards under his socks and kicking about in his soccer cleats (thanks to Aunt Jessica for those!). Maybe next game he’ll be more into it.

Luke's 1st game

I get to see this guy about once a week, sometimes a little more. These are from my phone, also.

He sticks his tongue out a lot. Then I took another picture because I’m sure he doesn’t want the only picture of himself on his aunt’s blog to be with his tongue out! 

Valor's tongueValor no tongue

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Ballard CC

If you haven’t noticed, Ben and Bill have gotten lots of time on here with their harescrambles. Smile Well, now it’s time for some other races, namely Audrey’s cross country meets. She had her first of the season on Monday night and it was hosted by our school. Truthfully, I couldn’t wait for it!

We caught her clear across the course and found her smilin’ away!

A Happy RunnerThumbs Up

By the time we saw her again, she wasn’t smiling so much. I think she was focusing on, you know, running and breathing. 

Still Going

At the end of each race, Audrey will accept a hug and kiss from me, but what she really wants is some Dad time. I see this scene at the end of every race and I love it!

End of Race Hug

Way to go, Audrey! Can’t wait for next week!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Tractor Time

If you are not a fan of tractors or not a fan of orange tractors, then don’t read today’s post. Just giving you fair warning.

If you have no idea what in the blazes I’m talking about then today’s post will be okay for you.

If you have an idea of what I’m talking about, meaning you know what orange tractors are, then today’s post will be either be fun because you will get to see more orange or you will think me an idiot because I don’t know what I’m talking about.

If you’re here for the cute kids, then today’s post will not disappoint.

We’ve been spending some time on the family farm, where my uncle lived, cleaning it up. So this past Sunday, Bill spend part of the day working on an Allis-Chalmers 190, trying to get it going. And wouldn’t you know it, he got it up and running! Though it’s been some time since he worked on his dad’s farm, he said once he started fiddlin’ around with things, it all came back pretty quick. The whole point was to see if a tractor would start but once he got ‘er goin’, he hooked up a mower to clear around old machinery. Here are some shots that Audrey took of the boys.

Ben was by Bill the whole time and got his first farm equipment lessons.

Raising the MowerTractor Lessons

Did you know farmers are very good backwards drivers? It’s because they spend so much time hooking up this thing and that and backing up trailers and wagons and such. I am not a good backwards driver. Though I lived part of my life on a farm, it was the first part, where I wasn’t actually big enough to see over the dash and reach the pedals at the same time.

Backwards 1Backwards 2Backwards 3

Don’t ask me any questions about an AC 190. I don’t know ANYTHING about them. Okay, maybe I know that is a diesel tractor and that this one used to have a step on it and it has a 3-point hitch (so you can not only pull something, but also raise it up and down).

No Step Anymore3-point hitch

I didn’t get any pictures of the kids on the tractor. Sad smile Ben rode out with Bill for a while then it was dinner time. (which means lunch but since we are on the farm, I feel I must use correct farm meal-time lingo.) Then Audrey spent a good part of the afternoon cutting weeds down with Bill. Luke didn’t get on very much. He was very content with a short ride and then staying near the house; perhaps another time. I’m sure this won’t be the last of our tractor time.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Log Practice

Bill took Ben to the motorcycle park a couple weekends ago. They had cleared out a new section of trail and included some logs. When Bill told me what Ben was doing, I told him to video it on his phone. Here it is for you.

I don’t know how they do it, so I can’t explain it to you… yet. I’m sure Bill will read this, explain it all and then I’ll share it with you. I just know you are dying to know.

Bill was so proud, he actually called me from the park.

Bill was so proud, he called his friend, Joe.

Bill was so proud, he posted it on his Facebook wall.

Ben? It just fed more of his insatiable appetite for riding!

Open-mouthed smile

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Texas Cousins Day

They visited again.

Rode bikes.

Played puppies.

Ate watermelon.

Had a sleepover.DSC_0003

We love them.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Birthday Boy

I pretty much love this kid from way deep down inside. You know, from that special spot nestled so deep that one cannot find the source.

Motorcycle Cake

Do you see what he’s wearing? His riding clothes. He would wear them every day if he could, especially if that meant he could go riding. Instead he only wears shirts with motorcycles on them.

Do you see his cake? A motorcycle cake, with love from Grandma! See how he’s smiling? It’s because of the motorcycle cake.

This was celebration #3 for his birthday this year. The first one was the Fremont race, when the Texas cousins came. The second was the Winterset race when we brought all his friends along. I made Nutella cupcakes for that one. Ben is a Nutella FREAK!!! (note: We think Nutella should sponsor our rider. hint, hint)

Happy 9th Birthday, Ben! We love you!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Albert and Darling

I hope you don’t mind, but today is not about our aviary patrons. It’s about a brother and a sister. Let’s meet them, shall we?

Here they are.

Albert and Darling

They started off as two wee little seeds planted in a plastic cup by Luke at preschool. Oh, yes- those kind. We all know, the likely-hood of those seeds growing into anything but a soggy mess (due to zealous watering) is pretty slim. But somehow, Albert and Darling made it past that initial stage and into the actual ground.

We watered, monitored, watered again, checked on them, let God water them, let God grow them and waited some more wondering if we would ever get anything beyond those first few leaves.

Albert took off like a shot! Oh my! We were always surprised at his growth whenever we checked on him. He was tall, he was handsome and he went out for track where pole vaulting was his favorite event.


One night a strong wind blew through town and besides re-arranging everyone’s lawn furniture and causing a general ruckus, it also knocked the wind out of Albert. We found him laying in the bushes, not uprooted, but still with a neck injury. So Bill made a splint from a fence post, propped him back up and we waited to see how Albert would recover.

Well, Albert is quite tenacious. What was thought to be an career ending injury, straightened back up and on he grew!

Meanwhile, little Darling was never much of a sprout. She just didn’t grow. If Albert and Darling are twins (paternal, of course) then I’d say Albert got the lion’s share. We watered, watched and waited on her just as much as Albert and on she grew, but at her own pace. We were never negligent of her, but when Albert was such a show-off, we sort of forgot about Darling.

Then, lo and behold, one day while picking tomatoes, Audrey said there were two sunflowers. I rushed out and there was Darling, peeking from behind one of Albert’s gigantic paws. She was so pretty and quite shy. With her permission, we were able to capture her fleeting beauty.


Overshadowing her was her big, hulk of a brother. That old neck injury had played it’s hand again and there stood Albert drooped over. Since his glory days have long gone, he’s resorted to gloom and despair and is now an emotional eater. Darling just waits for her glimpses of the sun as the breeze attempt to lift brother’s shade for her.

Drooping Sunflower

I saw her the other day and she was fading fast. She always was a delicate thing and the onset of heat had “done her in” as she quoted a line from her favorite musical character, Eliza Doolittle. Perhaps, if I get a chance, I will see if she is available for one more autograph. I have no doubt there is more to be heard from her brother. He may yet have another moment in the sun.