All Because of Grace

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As I was contemplating what my first post would be under my new blog name, with all the huge plans of writing more regularly about farm life, what the Lord has been teaching me, and running through a bazillion ideas in my mind, God  decided to slow me down a bit, to “smell the roses”, and soak in the curve-balls He has seen fit to throw my way the past few weeks that have kept me from writing sooner (His ways our never like our own, right? 😉  ), which have caused me to pull back, and focus on Him and the life lessons He is challenging me with this season on the farm…..which has been a LOT, and full of much sanctification….. some very trying and hard lessons in the valley which have left me relying only on my Savior’s sovereign grace and realizing more of my utter dependence on Him in all seasons.

I know what you are thinking: “of course we need to depend on Christ in everything”, but you see, when He brings us to the breaking point in our lives that try us so deep that we feel like we are drowning, we understand and feel our need of Him even more so than just hearing it.  Believing it and seeing it lived out in our lives makes it become real and true to everyday living!

We NEED those real everyday reminders in life; more than just reading, the application of it is crucial to any growing believer’s walk with our Great Comforter, and to know He has been where we are to a greater extent when He sacrificed Himself for us on the Cross to save us from our sin, and the fact He is with us even now to hold us together even when we feel miles apart at times.  He uses all circumstances for our Good and for His glory!

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

~Romans 8:28~

A couple of things that really challenged me and encouraged me were these two excerpts which I pray would be a blessing to y’all as well.  They preach to me as much as anyone else in these dealings and dwellings in the valley to keep my mind and heart focused on Christ, and may they encourage you the same in your walk with Him :

No Cross, No Gospel

“Through Him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand.”   

~Romans 5:2~

“When you set yourself to seriously pursue holiness, you’ll begin realizing what an awful sinner you are.  If you aren’t firmly rooted in the gospel and haven’t learned to preach to yourself every day, you’ll soon become discouraged and will slack off.  In the pursuit of holiness, nothing’s more important than learning to preach the gospel to yourself every day.

In doing so, we must be careful not to preach a gospel without a cross.  All the wonderful promises of forgiveness in Scripture are based upon Christ’s atoning death.  Through it He has satisfied God’s justice and averted from us God’s wrath.  We must be careful not to rely on the so-called unconditional love of God without realizing His love can flow to us only as a result of Christ’s atoning death.

This is the gospel by which we were saved, and the gospel by which we must live every day of our Christian lives.

In Romans 3:24, Paul said we are justified by grace, referring to what we might call our point-in-time salvation, the day we trusted in Christ.  In Romans 5:2, however, Paul spoke of this grace in which we now stand.  Here he refers to our day-to-day standing before God as being on the same basis as our justification – the basis of grace.  But this grace – unmerited favor to those who deserve wrath – comes to us through the Lord Jesus Christ.

God is the “God of all grace” (1 Peter 5:10) and is disposed to deal with us by grace, but not  at the expense of His justice. But with justice satisfied, God can now deal with us in grace, both in our salvation and in our day-to-day relationship with Him.”

~Jerry Bridges “Holiness Day By Day” week 6, Weekend pg. 42 (taken from his book: “The Discipline of Grace”)~

Continual Repentance

“O God of Grace,

Thou hast imputed my sin to my Substitute, and hast imputed His righteousness to my soul,  clothing me with a bridegroom’s robe, decking me with jewels of holiness.  But in my Christian walk I am still in rags; my best prayers are stained with sin; my penitential tears are so much impurity; my confessions of wrong are so many aggravations of sin; my receiving the Spirit is tinctured with selfishness.

I need to repent of my repentance; I need my tears to be washed; I have no robe to bring to cover my sins, no loom to weave my own righteousness; I am always standing clothed in filthy garments, and by grace an always receiving change of raiment, for Thou dost always justify the ungodly; I am always going into the far country, and always returning home as a prodigal, always saying, Father forgive me, and Thou art always bringing forth the best robe.

Every morning let me wear it, every evening return in it, go out to the day’s work in it, be married in it, be wound in death in it, stand before the great white throne in it, enter heaven in it shining as the sun.

Grant me never to lose sight of the exceeding sinfulness of sin, the exceeding righteousness of salvation, the exceeding glory of Christ, the exceeding beauty of holiness, the exceeding wonder of grace.”

~”The Valley of Vision”, Leather bound, pg.136-137~

 

 

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Some of you have been following my updates on this year’s lambing season journey via Instagram (HERE) which has been very hard losing so many little lambs this year, dealing with some health issues related to feeling so overwhelmed with everything that has been going on as of late. Through it all, it has left me more in awe of the God I serve who has given me the strength to press on even when I did not feel like I could, and give me the strength to take each day is it comes, knowing He will supply my needs and has faithfully done so through it all and will not just stop there, but continue till He takes me home to glory!  God is so very good, and I praise Him for the work He is doing in my life and the life of my sweet family and farm. Thank you so much for your sweet words of encouragement and prayers….they mean more than you will ever know!

Thanking the Lord for these hard lessons that draw me closer to Him, and for all of you dear readers and fellow prayer warriors.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Miss Antoinette

 

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Changes Are Afoot!

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Howdy dear readers!

A lot has been going on as of late, and am sooooo happy to announce some BIG changes coming to this web-site which I am looking forward to, and cannot wait to see how the Lord uses this new chapter of this blog.

My hope and prayer is that it will continue to be a source of encouragement and inspiration to y’all, even in these new changes and yes, even a new look to the site will soon follow.

The Lord has really been placing on my heart to start blogging again. Through much prayer and encouragement from some of you dear readers,  I am going in a different direction than just photography… After a long season of illness and reflecting on what others needs are (not just my own), I feel like the Lord is changing directions for this blog, in sharing more of my thoughts on farm life and what the Lord has been teaching me in His Word during these seasons of sickness, loneliness, singleness, and all the blessed lessons they have been teaching me, along with the happening farm adventures and joyful abundant living in the country!  Photos will still be shared to be sure, but it will supplement the post, and not always be the main focal point of my posts.

So what will the new name of this blog be?   “Hillbilly Blossom” seemed VERY appropriate, as the Lord has grown me in so many ways since moving to the backwoods of Kentucky, I feel like I am “blooming” where God has planted me here as a faithful daughter of the King…a city gal gone hillbilly, living the dream my family and I have prayed about for so long and have been greatly blessed since beginning this venture over 4 years ago!

So be keeping an eye out for new changes that are afoot in my little piece of the blogosphere world. 🙂

“So we Thy people and sheep of Thy pasture will give Thee thanks for ever: we will shew forth Thy praise to all generations.

~Psalm 79:13~

Blessings in Christ,

Miss Antoinette

***PS. Note to subscribers of my blog: You will not have to do anything as far as re-subscribing goes during the transition, because all I am doing is changing the name and URL/domain name to this website, and you should continue to receive your post update emails to my blog as usual, they will just have the new blog name “Hillbilly Blossom” and no longer “Antoinette Joy Photography”.***

To any newcomers: please feel free to follow this blog via email by visiting my “About” page to sign up!  🙂

 

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A Little Retreat To Cumberland Falls (Part 2)

Howdy Y’all!

Day 2 of our adventures were just as spectacular as the days before with more gorgeous views, and sweet fellowship all around.

This day was exploring the other side of the falls, and getting not only a closer look of Cumberland Falls, but a stunning view of a full rainbow glowing in the mist right next to it!

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Then it was onward to our next spot on the trail…

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Took a few moments to get some nice shots of our little group. 🙂

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(a BIG thank you to Mrs. Cassetty for this one. 🙂  )

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Instead of climbing up a tree, I got to comb into one!!! You could have fit two of me in there rather snugly! …And yes, I felt like  little kid again, even if it was not climbing up to the tippy-top of this tree, it was pretty cool to “hid” in one.  haha 😉

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Then it was back to walking the trails and enjoying another gorgeous view of the falls!

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Here is a panorama shot of the falls HERE.

Once we said our farewells to the falls, we headed back on the road just a little ways to visit a little country gift shop that was just adorable!

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…And then just a little further, our last stop before hitting town for a little shopping, was the beautiful Natural Arch!

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Another panorama shot, this time of the Arch, HERE.

The weather was just perfect on this second day of traveling!

God was so good to us in keeping us safe, and giving us such stunning views.

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It was such a very special trip, and know this will probably become an annual thing we do every year, and Lord willing our little group will grow into a bigger crowd next time too!

We were all sad to leave so soon, but ere thankful for the time well spent with sweet friends, and look forward to our next visit at Cumberland Falls Lord willing very soon!

“O Lord, how manifold are Thy works! In wisdom hast Thou made them all: the earth is full of Thy riches.

~Psalm 104:24~

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Blessings in Christ,

Miss Antoinette Joy

A Little Retreat To Cumberland Falls (Part 1)

Greetings in the Lord fellow readers!

With all that has transpired since I last wrote, my dear mother and I were in great need of a nice little getaway with some dear friends, and God graciously did just that recently, and we will never forget that special time of wonder in God’s creation and the sweet fellowship as well for those two whole lovely days!

On this little retreat, we finally got to explore one place on our list of places to see in our home state, and that was the beautiful Cumberland Falls State Park!

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It was so much more beautiful than I could have ever imagined it to be, and took many photos which I would like to share with y’all of this gorgeous place!

This is a *MUST STOP* for any of you visiting the South Eastern side of KY near the TN boarder.

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On the first day of exploration, the four of us hiked the beautiful, and rigorous 3 mile, Eagle Falls Trail!

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Part way, you could see a stunning view of Cumberland Falls below!

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Here is a panorama shot of this lovely view HERE .

Eagle Falls!

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Nothin’ like getting your feet wet at the falls too, to cool off from the heat of the afternoon! 🙂

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We had a beautiful view for our evening meal at the lodge, and enjoyed the wildlife out the window…

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As we retired for the night, our cozy cottage was full of fun conversation and games!

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And thus ended a wonderful day, with such excitement and anticipation for the start of our second day of adventures!

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(Last photo courtesy of a nice random person on the trail)

We were quite exausted from our hike that day, and I think all four of us had not done that much extensive of a “workout” in a long while, but God was so gracious to all of us that day and we will never forget the sweet memories of that precious first day of our little retreat.

“Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord.”

~Psalm 31:24~

Keep an eye out for part 2 (aka Day 2) of our Cumberland Falls adventures soon!

Soli Deo Gloria,

Miss Antoinette

PS. Due to health issues, I could not take my camera with me on this trip, so all photos were taken on my Samsung Galaxy S6 phone.

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A Trip To Gatlinburg TN

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With the summer garden winding down now, and preparations for the fall/winter seasons commencing, it was time for a much needed getaway to recoup, and enjoy God’s wonderful creation in a different piece of lovely countryside; and that place happened to be two lovely days spent in Gatlinburg Tennessee, shopping and hiking in the beautiful Pigeon Forge area with both of my lovely parents, which made for a very nice little trip!

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Because the sumer months were so busy, my last post were all photos I had taken on my phone, so it was very nice to dust off my poor camera, and do some real photo taking the way I enjoy it best (though it is very nice to have such a good camera on my phone for those days I cannot pull out my Canon and still share photos with y’all)! *grins*

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There is always so much to look at in God’s beautiful creation, wherever you are, even in the smallest of things; and in all honesty sometimes we find the most beauty in those little things if we stop and take the time to really look at them….

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“O Lord, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches.”

~Psalm 104:24~

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“I lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.  My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.”

~Psalm 121:1-2~

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As the weather cools, and the seasons change, and little getaways like this come and go; what a blessing to know there is One who never changes and is not only with us every moment of every day, but He has created all these awesome scenes to behold every day we live here on this amazing planet!

“Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever.”

~Hebrews 13:8~

May we never take the little things for granted; for it is in the simple things we can find the greatest blessings!

Soli Deo Gloria,

Miss Antoinette

A Profitable Absence

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“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.”

~Ecclesiastes 3~

Howdy Y’all!

My, it feels so good to be posting once again after taking leave for a while with all the exciting happenings on the homestead this spring and summer.  As you can tell from the picture above, our flock has grown some since we began with our original 8 sheep HERE and HERE and now with this year’s breeding season coming to a close, we shall have more little ones romping around the farm come December/January too; along with taking our first batch of lambs to the butcher, since after all, we are raising these lovelies to provide us and others with high-quality, grass-fed, lamb meat for provision.

 The last 6 months have been full, and productive on the homestead; leaving very little time for much else but spending one’s days in the great outdoors, and keeping the home clean and meals cooked to keep everyone fed….oh yes, and preserving delicious food as it came out of the garden also!

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Some things just have to be put on the “back-burner” till months like this slow down, and sadly my blog was one of those things that needed to be put on hold for a season.

Lord willing, I am back for a spell, and am very excited to share with you what has been going on in the past few months!

“The Seasons change, and you change, but your Lord abides evermore the same, and the streams of His love are as deep, as road, and as full as ever.”

~Charles Spurgeon~

To set the mood for this post, here is a lovely piece to listen to while you continue reading:

Just hop on over HERE to set the music (one of my favorites), and read on!

The Lord really blessed my family’s garden this year, and we were very thankful for the great abundance of delicious produce over the last few months, with a few things still coming in (watermelon and tomatoes mostly).

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Even George the “produce inspector” was curious what goodies we were bringing into the home every day! 🙂

I already miss those luscious greens: rainbow chard, spinach, and arugula!

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These lovely French Breakfast radishes did so well, we were able to grow two rounds of these during the spring/beginning of summer months, and made some lovely vibrant salads!

The earth is the Lord‘s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.

~Psalm 24:1~

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SUNFLOWERS!!!

We were greatly blessed with many lovely blossoms which cheered our home this summer, and with so many seeds, we hope to plant even more next year in hopes of saving enough to feed our chickens with!

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We planted about 4 different varieties of potatoes. The ones above are our lovely red ones.

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These are just a few choice cucumbers out of the many five gallon bucket-fulls we were getting this season!

It was definitely the year of the cucumber on our homestead which made many tasty snacks, juices and LOTS of jars of pickles and relish! YUM!

It is a lot of hard work to keep a garden and everything else in tow, but I love it so much, and am very thankful for the work the Lord has given me on our family’s little piece of country heaven.

“Work is a blessing.  God has so arranged the world that work is necessary, and He gives us hands and strength to do it.  The enjoyment of leisure would be nothing if we had only leisure.  It is the joy of work well done that enables us to enjoy rest.”

~Elisabeth Elliot~

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Since this photo, our watermelon (Moon and Stars) has grown quite a bit, and should be ready this week!!!!

*jumps up and down*

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Right now, our family is enjoying these volunteer tomatoes which grow on our property by the hundreds!

They are the sweetest, most delicious tomatoes I have ever had.

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Of course I cannot forget the Japanese Beetles which are everywhere this time of year, along with many other critters. 🙂

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Tucker is lively and happily protecting (and sometimes playing with) the sheep, and hunting for the many crawfish, moles, and voles that live in his domain.

He is one very spoiled dog, and I love him so much!

“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you”

~Philippians 1:3~

As I close this post, and hope to return very soon with more exciting adventures on the Konvalin homestead and beyond, I pray the Lord would bless and keep each of you dear readers, and hope to see you here again soon!

Also, what have my readers been up to this summer?

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Soli Deo Gloria,

Miss Antoinette

Winter Happenings

Part of February and the first week of March, blew in two of the the most intense accumulations of snow we have ever seen since our move to the country!

It was beautiful, and a delight to enjoy the ‘winter wonderland’ outdoors (with a few days of scrumptious snow cream to enjoy too!), yet it did prove to be dangerous at times as well, having to be extra careful doing tasks on the farm, and making sure our livestock were protected and bedded down nice and warm with many fresh bales of hay which gave me plenty of moments for a big workout trudging in the snow!

I couldn’t even see my boots, in all the snow!

 

We did have this wonderful UTV (below) for the first two days of the big snow, but then the Lord took that convenience away for the rest of the season (it is still being fixed as I write this post), which was hard not having it to drive up and down, to and from the house to the field numerous times a day.  This gave us all the workout we needed, and honestly much more pleasant to not miss any moments of fun and splendor of God’s creation drudging through snow.

It made for many good character-building life lessons too….like realizing what a blessing it is to have working equipment while it is in service, to be thankful in ALL circumstances, and make the best of them by savoring the moment and not spoiling it with a wrong attitude and always, always, ALWAYS having a heart to work and serve for God’s glory, even in the little things that don’t seem so important at the time.

All in all, it was a rather humbling experience for me, and in all honesty, gave me time to enjoy and bask in God’s creation more fully, which I was very thankful for!

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”

~Ephesians 2:10~

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.”

~Romans 8:28~

There were moments when it was hard to see where one was going during the heavy snowfall!

It was beautiful, and felt just like looking at a hazy painting of a lovely country landscape, only it was even more gorgeous seeing it before my eyes in real life!  God’s creation continually astounds me!

Below is our field covered in a thick blanket of loose, powdery white snow (the sheep are outside of this shot)!!!

I took many rests in the barn trekking up and down to care for the sheep, which gave me many moments to thank the Lord for good hard work, much needed exercise during the winter months, and such beautiful views of His creation to enjoy!

The creek was even partially frozen over, and the snow was thicker than in my last photo of Barnett’s Creek!

After the first big snow slowly melted, it was fascinating to see the fall leaves hiding beneath the snow appear once again.

The second storm we had slightly less snow on the ground, but was MUCH colder, turning what snow there was within 24 hours, into ice, with beautiful ice crystals covering everything too!!!

The intricate design even in the various ways ice and frost displays on different objects; from sharp, spider-like splotches covering the gravel ground, blocky-looking stubs on a vine, to sparkling-feather-like accents hanging from a twig is AWESOME in the truest sense of the word!

“Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.   Serve the Lord with gladness: come before His presence with singing.  Know ye that the Lord He is God: it is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture.  Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise: be thankful unto Him, and bless His name.  For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting; and His truth endureth to all generations.”

~Psalm 100~

Now that the season of winter has passed, and has now turned to spring, with new life on the farm (photos coming soon!!!), seeds already being planted in the garden, and warmer days ahead, my family and I are looking forward to enjoying the special opportunities the warmer weather brings us on our homestead, and the exciting adventures that lie around the corner of every day!

How about my dear readers?

How was your winter this season, and what are your plans for spring time?

“Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of His goodness, and the work of faith with power: That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

~2 Thessalonians 1:11-12~

Grace and Peace,

Miss Antoinette Joy