Pride & Joy! God & Men!

Cover Photo

“Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee, God of glory, Lord of love; Hearts unfold like flowers before Thee, Opening to the sun above. Melt the clouds of sin and sadness; Drive the dark of doubt away; Giver of immortal gladness, Fill us with the light of day!

All Thy works with joy surround Thee, Earth and heaven reflect Thy rays, Stars and angels sing around Thee, Center of unbroken praise. Field and forest, vale and mountain, Flowery meadow, flashing sea, Singing bird and flowing fountain Call us to rejoice in Thee.

Thou art giving and forgiving, Ever blessing, ever blest, Wellspring of the joy of living, Ocean depth of happy rest! Thou our Father, Christ our Brother, All who live in love are Thine; Teach us how to love each other, Lift us to the joy divine.

Mortals, join the happy chorus, Which the morning stars began; Father love is reigning o’er us, Brother love binds man to man. Ever singing, march we onward, Victors in the midst of strife, Joyful music leads us Sunward In the triumph song of life.”

-Henry J. van Dyke

“God is not your grandfather; God is an earthquake!” I heard a pastor bellow a few years ago. This statement resonated with me because my Dad was an earthquake. He loved me very much, but that love often came in the form of being shaken to my bones, rather than sitting on his lap. So it made sense to me that God, being huge, divine, and unknowable, could be described this way.

Henry Jackson van Dyke wrote Joyful, Joyful in 1907. I have been listening to my new favorite band, The Wicks, sing it on one of my Christmas stations. Not once does van Dyke describe God as an earthquake. But he does use these descriptions:

“Giver of immortal gladness”

“Center of unbroken praise”

“Wellspring of the joy of living”

Thanksgiving can be the start of our holiday blur. There’s always things to clean, shopping to be done, food to cook, errands to run, people to serve, and family to (sometimes) tolerate if not just give time to. And often we are fighting an illness while doing all these things!

I encourage you to stop and take a breath before the season zips by you. Some of us are a little low in our emotional well being right now, for various reasons. I know some of you are grieving people you have lost and some are struggling spiritually with contentment in your current circumstances.

The brilliance of Joyful, Joyful is that the lyrics are true! They recognize the endless giving of The Giver, commanding you not only to acknowledge His greatness, but also to be a receiver of the good gifts, as well as to beg God for continued assistance in how to properly share the joy with others!

“Joyful music leads us Sunward, in the triumph song of life.”

Some of us are marching to the wrong song right now. Follow the music that leads your heart to God. Take time out for the center of unbroken praise, tap into the wellspring of joy, and stop to be filled with the light of day. God causes the hardest hearts to unfold like flowers before the sun. He melts the clouds of sin and sadness, drives the dark of doubt away!

 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” –Philippians 4:6

God is huge and divine, but not unknowable. He may shake us to the bones at times, but He’s not an earthquake. He’s the Sun!

“For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.” –Psalm 84:11

Do you need a Christmas gift to come a little early this year?

“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” – Matthew 7:11

“God, thank you for making yourself knowable and for all of your amazing gifts. Forgive me for all the times I put you last instead of first. Forgive me for every time I sin against you. Those things push me further and further away, and then I wonder why my joy is all dried up. Help me to make time for you, to remember you, and to ask for help. Give me the discernment to choose the things that need to be done verses the things I just want to be done. This season needs to start and end with you. Please place people in my life to stir up my affection for you so I am following the Joyful music and not the song of discontent. Help me to be humble and grateful for my current circumstances. Fill me with the light of Jesus so I can share that joy with others. Thank you for sacrificing your Son, the ultimate gift, so that you and I can be reconciled. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

Happy Thanksgiving!!


There’s a lot of business happening at the farm! Brother Chad has continued the dismantling and improving of the exterior of the farm house. He found some water and critter damage to be taken care of.


And some exposed wires (thank  you, God, for letting nothing bad happen with that).





And this is the “before” pic of the large window replacements in the new dining room at the farm. It’s difficult to imagine how dark it used to be in there because the open walls are letting so much light in.


Yep, that’s framing for a giant window, not a door.


Outdoors meets the indoors . . . so thankful for this amazing fall we’ve had.




Chad came across a bit of his childhood graffiti on some old insulation. In case you didn’t know, “Chad Thomas Sutter lives here.” 🙂


The windows are in, exposing an awesome view of the pond!


New gutters on the tenant house next door! Hopefully this will be the end of the mystery leak.


On top of all that, Chad installed a new water softener system at the farm.



While Chad had been doing that, Nate had been replacing all of the window wells around our basement (a start to fixing the basement windows and preventing water leakage). I’m so grateful for these men; this would not have been my favorite project, but Nate killed it without complaining.




What’s sexier than a man who humbles himself before God, rolls out from under your dirty car, and stands in a mud hole with a shovel? Nothing, that’s what!


Almost done with these two! Two more to go!


All done!

Nate also built a frame for the utility sink in the basement.


I am so excited about this! Good job, honey!


We had an early Thanksgiving at the farm to celebrate all the hard work that’s been happening out there. From left to right: my stepdad, my mother, Brother Chad, our good friends Jon & Anna, and Nate!


The farmhouse is still a bachelor pad, so a game of pool went on afterward. Single ladies out there who love Jesus, country music, and hard work, Chad would be happy to change that. 😉



With these two ladies, we made an almost entirely Paleo Thanksgiving, which was incredible. So thankful for my fellow health nuts!

(We were all focusing on taking the pic, I held the phone while Mom poked the button, while Anna was trying not to laugh at our incompetence. At least we are cute. :))


This is the start of Chad’s new dining room. Funny we both have ours torn apart at the same time. 🙂 I have never seen this room with so much light; it’s incredible!


Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Wishing you well on your own winter projects, and praying for your heart before every post!


(Aunt Tess makes a cute pie!)


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