Don’t despise the small beginnings

I like to go all in. Rip off the band-aid, jump in head first, and throw everything I’ve got at my next new project or problem. Yep yep, starting Monday, I’m going to eat healthy. Or, starting next week I’m going to the gym three times a week to get strong! I’m quitting my job to go to school for a new career… I’m chopping up my credit cards and never using debt again!

Do any of these sound like you? You get fed up with the way things are and make a giant change, expecting it to stick. But change, no matter how necessary, is really incredibly hard, and most of the time, making that giant, life-altering improvement doesn’t stick. It’s simply too much altering at one time.

Or maybe you have a different challenge – the change is so huge that you are paralyzed. You’re dead-still frozen like Han Solo in a slab of carbonite. Because getting to that space of making the change takes so much mental, physical, and emotional energy that you just can’t start. I feel you! I keep putting off that healthy eating to another day, and then another day, and then suddenly it’s been another month and I haven’t made any changes at all. And I feel even worse for being that way. Feel familiar?

Maybe you’ve got that paralysis of analysis – it’s such a big change that you need to make, that you can’t make the decision about where to start. So you read books. You watch endless educational YouTube videos. You take another $37 internet course. And you’re stuck researching.

Been there, done that, and it cost me thousands of dollars because the inventory for my ‘new business’ expired before I got out there and found the clients to buy it. I was too busy doing research when I just needed to start.

Oh do I feel you! I’ve tripped over each and every one of these… and they never really work, do they? We know we need to do something different, we just can’t get from where we are to that thing that’s better for us.

And that thing could be any number of ‘things’ – a new job, or getting organized, finding new clients, a healthier lifestyle, better parenting, or saving money. It’s anything than seems big or undoable but would enhance our lives. I don’t think you’re lazy. I think you might be stuck.

If you read the Bible (and if you don’t, don’t worry – it’s still a good story, so stick with me on this) – the people of Isreal were going to rebuild their temple – a monumental task, if you ask me. So God sent some visions to the prophet Zechariah so he would know how to encourage them. Then God says to Zechariah – “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand.” (Zechariah 4:10 NLT).

A plumb line is just a weight on the end of a string. And you can use it when you’re building to see if your post, or pole, or wall is straight. It’s a very simple tool you use in the beginning of a project to see if you’re getting off to a good start. God is happy to see their work begin.

There’s a lot more to the story and you can go and read it for yourself if you like. But I just want to point out one little thing here – God doesn’t expect us to conquer our entire challenge all at once. He isn’t worried about the results. He didn’t expect them to build up this giant monument all of the sudden. He’s excited to see the work begin.

We all have to start somewhere, so don’t despise the small beginnings. Don’t hate those first little steps. Just make the first step, no matter how small. Because small progress is still progress.

OK fine, but what does this look like in real life?

That’s what I ask myself every time I watch an educational YouTube video or read a motivational blog post. It sounds great in theory, but does it actually do anything? What’s the point?

A few weeks ago I decided to organize my pantry. I pulled everything out and I lined it up on the floor. I got so overwhelmed and suddenly fatigued from the sight that I just wanted to quit. Why on earth did I even start this dumb project anyway? What was I thinking? But obviously I couldn’t leave my kitchen that way. I had to keep moving.

So I picked one thing to do.

I picked the easiest, most obvious thing that I could think of. So the first thing I did was just look at what obviously needed to be thrown away. I didn’t look at expiration dates, or scour packages, or debate if it was something we would actually eat. I did none of that. I just got rid of anything that looked like it needed to be trashed. I took away the decision-making and went on instinct, and I did it fast.

One small step helped to create enough momentum to get to move on to the next step. Then I picked another step – putting away the soup cans. Then the canned veggies. Then the pasta. Just one easy piece at a time. I ate a cookie, I sipped some coffee, and I picked another thing.

Maybe this isn’t the best example, but we all have those projects that we finally get inspired to start and then get overwhelmed, if we even start them at all.

The key is this: don’t despise the small steps. Pick the easiest, most obvious thing and do it fast. And this helps us in a variety of ways.

First of all, it reduces decision fatigue. Honestly, we make so many decisions in a day from what to wear to what to eat, that by the time we have a chance to do something else, we’ve run out of the ability to make decisions. It’s normal. Deal with the decision fatigue by removing that piece for now and do the easy part first. Plus, it cuts down on one more decision you have to make later.

Second, it creates momentum. An object in motion tends to stay in motion—and that is as true for people as it is for slinklies and soft balls (thank you to my amazing 11th-grade physics teacher!). It’s hard to get moving, but once we get going, it gets easier to keep moving.

I often feel this when I ride my bicycle. When I first pedal, it feels hard! But if I put in a few hard, fast pedal strokes to get up to speed, it gets easier to keep the momentum and maintain the speed.

Third, it creates motivation. Just about every motivational speaker I’ve ever listened to (and there have been plenty!) has said that feelings follow action. If we wait until we FEEL motivated, we’ll be waiting a really, really long time, if not forever. We don’t naturally feel motivated (or at least, most of us don’t). And motivating ourselves out of plain old grit is just hard and requires endless amounts of emotional effort.

What really brings out our feelings of motivation is results. So if we can get a positive result – no matter how small – it’ll motivate us to get more results. I’m far less likely to overeat when the scale is dropping, but when it gets stagnant, I’m much more likely to grab an extra cookie or seventeen.

So don’t think of small beginnings or baby steps as babyish. Small progress is the start of something big. It doesn’t matter what elephant you’re trying to eat – don’t try to swallow the whole thing at once. Small and consistent (but not perfect) progress will get you there.

Don’t despise the small beginnings – just begin.

Taking Inventory

If you asked most people, they would probably admit that their life just doesn’t look quite like they had imagined it would. My life is not really anything like what I pictured when I went off to college, young, naive, and still really new to the world around me.

There are days when I wonder how I got off track…I had such a mission and vision for my life back then. A passion to make the world better, and a great big bunch of hope that the world could be better.

Where did that hope go? When did wanting to change the world morph into wanting to make it to the next paycheck? When did that dream of spreading hope to others pass into dreaming of when I can lay my head back down on my pillow? When did wanting to stand against darkness fade into just wanting to go sit back down with a heating pad and a bowl of vanilla ice cream?

In some ways, it doesn’t matter what we wanted 20 years ago. We can’t go back, we can’t ever re-enter that time in our lives when we were so energetic and passionate and wanting to make a difference. We traded our enthusiasm for experience and it shows in our stringy grey hairs, and squishy squint lines, and crepe skin, I suppose. We’ve lost so much and we gained some things we didn’t expect, as well.

We used to be excited to learn new things, and now we giggle nervously when we have to approach something fresh, when we embrace a new idea or are tempted to post in a new app. Learning new skills and trying new things used to be our normal, daily operation, not a class that we sign up for or a seminar we attend.

I am convinced that a large part of why we ‘grown-ups’ are so tired is that we’ve lost that wide-eyed wonder with which we used to view the world. When every day was a new experience and each morning we hopped out of bed, ready to slay pretend dragons because we didn’t need to face any real live dungeon-master disasters or dragon-like firy problems. We had reserves of energy, ready to be spent frivolously on fun – and now, our energy is spent before we’ve even had the chance to nourish it awake.

Experience is a heavy weight and I often wish that we could set it down. So what if we just stopped in our tracks, and took an inventory of where we are. Set those heavy weights down for just a moment, to reconcile the life ledger that constantly runs through the back of our head. Some of us might be excited to see how far we’ve come, while others of us, ashamed, or simply weary of where the world has brought us. Or maybe, all of the above.

Where we are isn’t the end of our story, of course. We know this to be true, else we wouldn’t ever pour another cup of coffee or put on our big girl pants to slay the day. But we also know that making changes is hard, and sometimes, it is entirely worth it to stay the course we ended up taking.

But we’ll never know unless we ask ourselves the hard questions. Am I happy in this space? Am I fulfilled? Is where I am worth it or will it bring more regrets than peace?

Did I get off the track I need to take or did I lose my way entirely? Or have I created an entirely new route, uniquely fitted for me?

As women, it is so easy to lose ourselves to raising kids, supporting our spouses, and helping others. We forget what actually makes us tick. We make ourselves smaller so others can be larger than life. And over time, the little things turn into bigger things and we get to our middle age and realize we’re not even sure who we are anymore. But that’s ok. We can still be found.

We can’t ever go back, and most of us wouldn’t even want to. But we can pick back up, recover some of the pieces we lost, and create things that are new and fulfilling in ways we never could have imagined.

Take a moment, just for you. Allow yourself to wander in your thoughts, to daydream. If you couldn’t fail, what is it you would do today? What pieces of your life are missing that you would like to fill with something new? If your life could take a new direction, where would you want it to go? What do you love in your life and what do you want more of?

Give yourself the gift of a dream, whether something as small as a hot cup of coffee and a good book or something bigger, like a career. If you could reinvent yourself for even just a day, who would you be? Would you be your friend? Would you have hope?

No, we can’t and we don’t want to go back. But what do we want? I know what it is I want. And maybe you are the same.

I want to face each day with the energy and excitement of my small children, who can’t contain themselves to their beds for one more minute when there are so many things to experience, and learn, and understand. I want to jump out of my bed each day, ready to tackle my kingdoms, forge new paths, and experience, in wonder and amazement, the world around me.

When Your Dandelion Wishes Get Mowed Down

It was an exceptionally good year for dandelions. And as I looked out over our yard, I could see their white fuzzy heads waving and bobbing in the breeze, like a carpet of white fuzz. My children love those dandelions. They prance through the yard, finding the biggest heads and blowing bits of fuzz as far as they possibly can, making wishes and making up songs and dancing in the fluffy clouds. 

And then came the lawn mower. 

I couldn’t help but giggle as I watched a trail of dandelion seeds flying out behind the mower, forming giant clouds and then blowing away. And then I watched as that lawn mower cut a path, chopping down the weeds and grass and everything in its path. It made me a little sad, because all those hopes and dreams and wishes and giggles that were all wrapped up in those fluffy weeds were wiped out in a single path of the mower. And before long, the yard was mowed and all of those fluffy heads were gone. 

Sometimes, that’s what life feels like. All of our fluffy hopes and dreams, just like the dandelions, get mowed off by the struggles of daily life. I had so many hopes and dreams for this year – I was excited for all of the possibilities that I thought 2020 would bring, only to have them chopped off and cut down by a global pandemic and the resulting challenges. 

But just like the summer dandelions, this season will also pass. It wasn’t long before those dandelions popped back up, with new fluffy heads for children to blow away and new giggles and lots more prancing in the weeds. And just like life, maybe we lost a season of hopes and dreams but God is so good that He will bring us an entirely new season, with new hopes, new wishes, and new places to dance and prance. 

NIV Artisan Collection Bible

I confess. I have a tendency to geek out a bit when it comes to books, but I really hit geek overload over fresh, new Bibles. So when BG2 offered me a free NIV Artisan Collection Bible to review as a member of the Bible Gateway Blogger Grid and #BibleGatewayPartner, I couldn’t wait to say yes! Although the Bible was free, the opinions are my own and I’m not paid to endorse them.

When my new Bible arrived, the first thing I noticed was the beautiful dusky blue-marbled canvas cover with gold edging on the pages. This is a Bible so beautiful, you almost don’t want to use it. It’s a work of art. But this Bible wasn’t meant to sit up on a shelf, it was meant for journaling, doodling, experiencing, and exploring the Word of God.

In this stressful year, God’s Word is just as timely and applicable as ever. Take notice of Psalm 91 in the Artisan Bible, with its exclusive easy to read print and short notes at the bottom of the page. Two ribbon bookmarks help you keep track of where you are. And the best part of this Bible is the wide, lined margins where you can doodle, take notes, or jot down prayers.

Don’t take my word for it, go check out this one and the other Artisan Collection Bibles at their store.

These beautiful Bibles are a great gift idea for your family, friends, and yourself. Honestly, the best Bible – and the best translation – is the one that gets you reading it and living it. While you’re waiting for your new Bible to arrive, visit for access to Bible Study books, reference books, and commentaries that will enhance your Bible experience.

Chickens are easy keepers.

Chicken-love is spreading. From the suburbs of LA to the backyards of PA, chickens are the new black lab. Well, not exactly, but if you haven’t considered keeping a couple hens in your yard, perhaps you should. Chickens are an easy, delightful pet that feeds you and your garden. As long as your township or borough gives you the go ahead, it’s hard to go wrong with a flock of your own. And if you can keep alive a gerbil or a houseplant, chickens will be a very rewarding piece of cake. Here’s what you need.

Shelter. Just like people, shelter is a chicken’s basic need. But chickens aren’t choosy. You can DIY or just hit up Tractor Supply for an easy coop kit for a simple attractive coop. But we’ve found that our chickens don’t need much – a dry, draft-free shelter to protect them from wind, rain, and predators like raccoons and foxes. Most chickens prefer a roost, and you’ll want an easily accessible nest box to collect your yummy eggs. You can make your coop as simple or elaborate as you like, but the general rule of thumb says chickens need 3 to 4 feet of coop space per bird. If space is a premium in your back yard, just remember to keep 12 inches of roost space per chicken and one nest box for every 3 hens. Open their door every morning when it’s convenient, and once they learn the coop is their home, they’ll return to their roost every evening at dusk. Just lock the door to keep them safe from nighttime predators. Pine shavings are great for the floor of the coop, just sweep it out every week or so and replace with fresh shavings to keep your coop clean and your chickens healthy.

Need some ideas for coops? Check out these pretty and inventive ideas.

Food. Chicken are easy to feed. Adult chickens will eat about 1/4 pound of layer pellets a day, while younger chicks should be fed starter/grower crumbles. You can order commercial feed from any Tractor Supply, local feed mill, and even If you allow your chickens to wander freely in your yard, they’ll happily snatch up bugs, worms, and caterpillars that wreak havoc on your garden. Slip them your dinner scraps and watch the antics begin – your happy hens will go gaga over stale (not moldy) bread, scrambled eggs, or just about anything you’ve scraped off your plate. It’s a great way to keep food out of the trash bag and turn it into eggs. Give your chickens food and water each morning when you let them out.

Water. Water is critical to chickens and people. You can use a dedicated chicken waterer or a shallow, clean bucket. Just make sure the water is fresh and your waterer is clean.

Chickens are easy! They just need a little food, shelter, and water, and they will reward you greatly with delicious eggs, pest control, and fertilizer for your garden. Some breeds are great foragers while others, like Buff Orpingtons and Silkies, are cuddly and follow you around like a puppy. You can order nearly grown chickens from most hatcheries or find some locally on Craigslist. And while raising chicks takes a little more in the form of supplies and work, it is definitely fun and worth your efforts. Chickens are surprisingly hardy little creatures, but you’ll want to keep a phone number on hand for a vet that will care for them, just in case you need some help. Of course, we always keep an eye on young children around any animal (especially roosters) and always wash hands after handling.If you live in the suburbs or the city, you’ll want to check your local ordinances first. A quick call to the township office will let you know if you are allowed to have roosters and hens, hens only, or sadly, no chickens at all.

That’s it!  The quick and dirty easy guide to keeping chickens in your backyard. With just a little care for their basic needs and comforts, you’ll be rewarded with eggs, fertilizer, bug control, and chicken love. It doesn’t get any easier – or better – than that.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside!

 Winter is happening just how I like it – with the cold weather outside, and me, inside, by the cozy warm fire. I don’t mean to complain one bit, but OOOOOH baby, it’s cold outside! My inner scientist can’t decide if this evidence for or against global warming, but I for one wouldn’t mind a little extra warm right now!

Frigid temps mean the animals need some extra TLC. That means trading out frozen water buckets for fresh a couple times a day and making sure they have lots of extra clean, dry bedding to snuggle in. And while the goats and chickens don’t seem to love the snow covered ground, the don’t seem to mind the frigid temps at all. The roosters are outside first thing, happily scratching in their chicken run and cockadoodling the day away.

When frozen padlocks tried to trip us up, we got creative! We discovered a great use for the rice handwarmers on the Tiny Happy Acres etsy shop.  I just heated them up a little extra hot, and my hubby held them on the locks until the ice melted enough to open. So much easier than trying to get a hairdryer out there! It’s definitely worth having a few on hand for that reason.

Speaking of the Etsy, you’re going to want to go sign up for the newsletter ASAP!!!! Don’t wait a minute. Why? First of all, right now you can get a free printable of 10 (Christian) affirmations for kids. We have a great time at breakfast reading and repeating these affirmations. It helps us all start the day on a positive note and helps the little ones learn to read, too.

And the second reason to sign up for the newsletter? So you can be the FIRST TO KNOW about the unveiling of our Tiny Happy Acres Spring product line. I’m so excited I can barely keep that secret, I just know you’re going to love it and right now the office smells so good that I don’t ever want to leave. I’m practically in heaven! So hurry up, don’t delay, sign up for the newsletter! Right here! 

And although it’s January and the ground is frozen, we are busy working on the farm! That’s right, we are planning a major farm expansion for this spring and we are working on our business plans. We are working on nutritious veggies, gorgeous sunflowers, the best eggs around, and we are plotting and planning on bringing you some brand new adorable pets, too! 2018 is a year for growth and I hope that you will jump in and join us in creating an abundant life. I hope we can inspire you to care for your body, your soul, and our planet.

As I look out across the frozen tundra that has taken over my backyard farm, I can’t help but think that even though everything looks dead and frozen, God has instilled life and it is just waiting for the opportune moment to burst forth in beauty and bloom. And even if your life, your dreams, your soul, seem frozen and dead, remember that God is still hard at work. Keep that hope alive and burning within you because at any moment you may find that bloom that changes everything. Take this time to rest, to nourish your body and soul so that you can bloom. It’s our mission and our passion. Nourish. Bloom. Repeat.

Stay tuned because amazingness is in the works!

Check out our Etsy shop!

One of my favorite aspects of homesteading is being earth conscious, taking care of our resources, and reducing / eliminating waste. In an effort to be more sustainable and supplement our homestead budget, we opened an Etsy store! Our store is made up of all kinds of tote bags and containers which have been repurposed from other materials. Check us out at

Some of our favorite items are Feed bag Christmas stockings to tickle the fancy of your fav chicken lady, goat totes, and blue jean bags. Please check us out and happy shopping!

Feeling dried up, worn out, deadened? We have hope.

Feeling dried up, worn out, deadened? We have hope.
“Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.’”
Ezekiel 37:12-14, NIV



The Rose of Jericho, the Resurrection Fern, has an amazing capacity for survival. In times of drought, it dries out and shrivels up, looking dead, but hides a surprising secret. When given a long slow drink, that dead-looking fern resurrects and becomes lush and green and full of life again. If you’re a special needs parent, I bet you’ve got that same capacity for survival. We go through periods that are so hard, so exhausting, physically and emotionally taxing, that we feel pretty dead and dried up inside. I have days when I feel that way, don’t you? Worn out until there really isn’t much left. Just like that fern can live again, there is hope for you, and there is hope for me, too!

There is a pretty special prophet named Ezekiel who we read about in the Old Testament. I love the story of Ezekiel because he never intended to become a prophet. Ezekiel trained his entire life to be a priest. A priest had social standing, was respected, and admired. It was an honor to be a priest! But just as he was about to step into his role as priest and fulfill his duties, God called him to something entirely different – to be a prophet. Nobody really likes a prophet. They were looked down upon, disliked, and viewed with suspicion. But God used prophets to bring his stubborn people back to Him, so a prophet’s job was just as important as a priest’s. Few people desire to be a special needs parent, it’s something that often is thrust upon us, and leaves us feeling kind of isolated and at odds with the world, but it’s just as important and rewarding, isn’t it?

Well, God’s people seemed a lot like that dried up old fern – they were hurting, feeling alone, abandoned because they had rejected God. Have you ever felt alone and hurting? Isolated? It was Ezekiel’s job to bring them back to God. And God gave him an incredible vision, the Valley of the Dry Bones in Ezekiel 37:1-14.

In the passage, God takes Ezekiel to this valley of bones, old, dead bones. Because that’s how Israel felt, like wasted old bones. And Ezekiel was probably pretty horrified by those bones – because a priest would never touch a dead body! But God told Ezekiel to speak to the bones, and he obeyed. And the bones grew flesh, and became bodies. And God told Ezekiel to speak to those bones again, and he obeyed. And those bones were given the breath of life and became a vast army of living breathing people. This vision sounds more like something from the Walking Dead rather than a Bible story, so what does that mean for us?

It means that God sees us and hears us when we feel like we are dried up, wasting away, cut off, and abandoned. And it means that God wants to breathe new life in us! He wants to restore our weary souls, energize our lifeless bodies, and help us stand to our feet, ready to face another day. Just like that Resurrection Fern comes back to life with just a bit of water, God wants to breathe new life into our hurting, dead places.

Maybe you never planned on being a special needs parent, but now, somehow, you are. And it’s hard, and it can be isolating. It’s exhausting. And just as you are breathing life and love into your special needs child or children, God wants to breathe life and love into you. Breathe in, my friend, breathe in God’s Spirit and let God give you new life.

Dear God,

We cry out to You with our hurts, our loneliness, our isolation.
We cry out to You in our deadness, our dryness, our weariness.

We give you the dry places,
the hidden places,
the hurting places
so You can resurrect them.

Fill us, Lord, with Your Breath,
fill us with Your Spirit,
and give us strength to stand,
strength to fight, and
strength to thrive.

Give us Your infinite love
so we have love to give to those around us.

In the name of Jesus,


-Amanda Furbeck

This post originally published at Comfort in the Midst of Chaos on August 4, 2016.

Are You Ready for Christmas?

Are you ready for Christmas?

The closer the big day looms, the more frequently those very words are uttered. Are you ready for Christmas? 73063_10200132888625462_345328533_n

It’s quite the loaded question, really. We love to be busy about Christmas. We love the frenetic shopping, the baking, the parties, the clothes. Making magic and meals and mastering the art of all things festive.  Are you ready for Christmas?

I am not ready for Christmas. Not one little bit.  The shopping has not even been started. Admittedly, I don’t even have a list, rather a distant, vague understanding of my family’s wishes. The Christmas tree is still waiting – down the road, with all of the other Christmas trees at the Lyon’s Club fundraiser in the local grocer’s parking lot. Maybe tomorrow we’ll get the tree, I assure my hopeful wee ones. Christmas decorations? Yeah, there are a few out and about but most are still stuffed in their boxes, barely put away from last year’s extravaganza. The Christmas lights were all deported to the local landfill, useless, shorted out, burned out, and dead from the flooded basement after last winter’s blizzard. The cookies are not baked and the meals are not planned and I haven’t the faintest idea where the leftover wrapping paper has gone. In this season of preparation, I am not too well prepared. And that’s ok.

In the Lutheran tradition, Christmas Carols are not sung until Christmas. Instead, only Advent Hymns echo through the church, melodiously proclaiming the coming birth of the baby Jesus, and the return of Christ, the King. It is a season of preparation. Preparing our hearts to receive our Savior, preparing our lives for the return of the King.  Are you too busy celebrating Christmas to celebrate Him? Or is your heart getting ready to worship, ready for God to do something new in your life, ready to accept the challenge of living for Him in the new year ahead? Let me ask you, are you ready? If Christ came today, are you ready?

If His return were today, or tomorrow or the next, what would He find? A bustling family battling for bargains and begging for gifts or contentedness, service, and hope? It’s prep time, for sure, but are your prepping your presents or prepping your heart? I have a lot of prep work to do. My heart is too busy, my days are too full, and the noise in my life is just plain loud and threatens to drown out the beautful strains of Christmas joy and the Savior’s love. If I am not intentional with prepping my heart to thank and praise and worship Jesus this time of preparation will slip right by. And once the cookies have left behind nothing but crumbs and the presents are unwrapped and ribbons are scattered and the pine needles are dropping from their Christmas boughs, will my heart be satisfied? Or will I be longing for more of Christmas that can only be filled by the gift of God’s Son?

Let me ask you, just once more, are you ready for Christmas?