This is David & Susan Sifford's journal of what we pray is our sojourn of life (Hebrews 11:8-10) along the narrow way (Matt 7:14), even the old paths (Jeremiah 6:16), submitting to the Bible as a light unto both (Psalms 119:105). It is our prayer that these documented moments in our earthly time benefit whom God might choose to edify, but ultimately that God glorifies Himself through them.

Year: 2013 (Page 1 of 5)

A House – Update XXIV – External Siding

The Lord has graciously supplied resources via help from others to be able to work on the external siding of our house. We’re very thankful to God and them to be able to begin to protect the most exposed under-siding areas, as the OSB only lasts so long in the elements.

First was the tar paper that Sue and I put up using a hammer stapler. We were told we should have put the windows in after the tar paper, but I guess it was a little late for that now. I suppose I should have applied some special tape to secure the tar paper to the window — perhaps I’ll plan to do that on the next ones:

House External Upper West Siding Tar Paper Installed
More External Upper West Siding Tar Paper Installed

I wanted siding that was durable, hopefully without having to paint it all of the time, but that could be used as lap siding because I like the look, and was not too expensive; and so I thought cedar fence slats just might accomplish the task. I also decided on using tan Deckmate screws, so if we needed to remove pieces easily we could, and because the tan color matches the boards nicely.

First was the window trim. For the bottom and top, I just ripped a slat (cut it length-wise) to fit the bottom, and then just used what was left on top, to try to save on slat usage. The trim is two boards thick — the under board corners are cut square to fit, and the top ones are miter-cut at angles for aesthetics, although with the funny (non-45 degree) angles, they didn’t end up joining together too nicely, but hopefully I’ll get better at that as I go. Because of the shape of the screws, I found I needed to drill pilot holes slightly using a 3/8 inch bit, so the screw head would sit nicely and not split the board; and I used 5 screws per full board, probably about 3/4 inch up from the bottom of the slat.

And because the window “flares” (the part that holds the window to the wall) stick out, and the top trim was so thin, I used shims to push the top of the trim piece a little more vertically level:

Upper Window Trim Top & Bottom with Shims

Here is the trim with the shims cropped:

Upper Window Trim Top & Bottom

And the window trim complete. All throughout the siding I tried to use copious amounts of clear silicone caulking:

Upper Windows Trim Complete

With the corner trim, I ripped the outer boards in a way so as to be able to cover the overlapping of the under boards:

Upper Corner Trim

And here are the windows and corners done:

Upper Window Trim & Corners Complete

Here is the corner to window siding. I initially thought I would run a string all of the way across to try to keep each course level, but with the distance of 40 feet, the string sagged; and so I figured once I got above the windows, I could even things out as I went, making sure the first course above the windows was generally the same height on one end of the house and the other. I was also able to follow the line on the tar paper on this first course, which helped set things fairly straight:

Corner to Window Siding

Because I worried that the slats might shrink some over time, I wanted to have a decent overlap, and ended up going with 5 inches of each course visible (the slats are around 5 1/2 inches wide). Each board-join I bevel-cut at 45 degree angles to overlap each join, hopefully helping to keep more moisture out, and I caulked each join as well. Given some of the slats would have arcs in their width, I’d have to try to press them flat when running the sliding chop saw through them:

Several Rows of Siding

Here is the roofline trim. At one point in this area, I started caulking and realized I was using white caulking instead of clear. Arg. I tried to wipe it off with wet cloths as much as possible, but some is still there, although at least I did it in a place that’s somewhat generally hidden:

Roofline Trim
More Roofline Trim

Here I am getting close to the top:

Installing Siding Near the Roof
More Installing Siding Near the Roof

And here is the first side complete! We plan to paint it with clear wood protector, once the colors settle, since it appears some of the red tinting in the boards seems to fade away over time; and we might paint the trim a different color, just so it stands out a little. It’s an amateur job, but I’m an amateur. πŸ™‚

House External West Siding Complete

Because of time restrictions, it took several months to do this, but we are very thankful again to the Lord for granting this progress on the house!

— David

The Chill of Victory, and The Agony of De-Sleet

As Ronald Reagan would say…”Well” (you can click that to get the full effect πŸ™‚ ), we’ve lived in Texas going on nine years now and one thing I can truly say is that I STILL don’t know what “seasonal” or “normal” weather is for our region. Everything in Texas seems like a wild stallion still waiting for that whisperer to tame it. We’re still waiting for somebody to answer that whisperer help-wanted ad – I guess we’d better “bump” it. Ten days ago my friend, Debbie, and I, by God’s mercy, made it home safely just as the “event” was starting. That evening and overnight about two-plus inches of sleet fell and by morning it had melded into one large sheet of sleet (say that ten times fast). It wasn’t snow and it wasn’t pure ice, but lighter, yet still pretty slippery. Dave did succumb to gravity a few of times over the course of the next several days but was not injured, thanks to God. I took some pictures of the homestead to share with you all. We weren’t able to drive off the land for almost a week due to the dangerous road conditions. And the mud from the sleet is still around in some places ten days later!

You can’t see it but our very smart cows discovered that camping out underneath the porch roof was the best place to be. I sure don’t blame them! They must be book-smart because they like to hang out by the library windows. πŸ™‚ Dave then had a smart idea of his own and put boards on a couple of the exterior library windows where the cow horns could accidentally break them!

Sleet - View of House

We have some winter wheat planted in our field up there. And some turnips planted in the fenced garden area in the forefront. You’ll just have to take my word for it: πŸ™‚

Sleet - View of Crop Field

We are thankful for the good soaking this moisture represents for our orchard, crops and gardens:

Sleet - View of Orchard

Our goats took refuge in their sheds a good portion of the time. It never made it above freezing for a few days and nights. We brought up a fresh layer of hay for the sheds most nights to cover the “gifts” the goats had left during the day:

Sleet - View of Goat Sheds

Sadly, goats can be very selfish and territorial with those sheds so the low goat on the totem pole can get left out in the wet cold. Our little orphan, Annie, was shivering quite a bit, and since we lost a goat a few years ago to the cold, we have learned to be very vigilant if we see a possible repeat. So, I went to our barn storage and pulled out an old fleece pullover, cut off the arms and put it on her. She seemed much warmer after that. I’ve read that goats grow a nice, warm undercoat for the winter but Annie still seemed like she couldn’t stay warm enough. Nubian goats may not have that undercoat because Shatner, one of our two bucks, which is also the leanest of all our goats, was shivering way too much, as well. I found another big sweater and put it on him. It seemed to help him keep in the heat much better. Once the immune system is over-challenged, this may mean trouble with potential sickness and disease (and possible vet bills!) So if we are able to help stabilize them, we’ll do what it takes.

Our Goat Annie's Winter Coat

While I’m milking in the evenings, Dave is putting up all of our chickens for the night. We always seem to have a few “rebels” that like to stay out in the trees. We were hoping any that had stayed the night out had made it through the sub-freezing temps. The next morning, Dave found this rebel hide-out in the shelter of our mulch-carrier.

A Chicken Winter Weather Hideout

It wasn’t hard to spot the “rebel” chicken. It was the only one with frozen rain stuck to its feathers πŸ™‚

Winter Weather Chicken Escapee

Our dogs, Brodey and Nessa, have a nice coat of fur, however Nessa still struggles in the cold and shivers quite a bit. I went online looking for dog coats or patterns and could only find cutesy stuff that would take too long to make or expensive dog coats for sale. Again, to quote Ronald Reagan “Well“, my dogs are cold right now! So, I took the handy scissors out again, found a couple of old sweaters out of storage, cut off the arms and put them on. Voila! Instant warmth. I don’t much care how they look, I’m all about if they get the job done. I pinned up the part that hung down below the belly (and had to make arrangements for Brodey not to pee on it) but they worked great!! Thank the Lord for the provision to help our animals fare better in this bitter cold, wet weather.

Here is Nessa’s “ensemble”. As the days and nights got colder, she was still shivering, so I ended up putting a total of three sweaters on her:

Our Dog Nessa's Winter Coat

Brodey ended up doing well with two sweaters:

Our Dog Brodey's Winter Coat

The little geese “pond” froze over, which made our geese very sad πŸ™ The rubber ducky is in there somewhere…

Geese Pond Frozen Over

However, even Augie and Gigi didn’t seem to want to get out into the stiff north winds, so they hung out under the RV:

Our Geese Augie/Gigi

I had to laugh when I saw this set of geese footprints (sorry, you have to look closely) come out from under the RV and go about ten feet before turning around. It seems this cold snap was enough to make even the geese change their minds and turn around to head back for cover πŸ™‚

Geese Footprints in the Sleet

We are very grateful for God’s merciful hand upon us all throughout this sleet adventure. This is the second heavy-duty cold front we’ve had so far this Fall and it’s not even winter yet! (whispering) “Hey, wild stallion, come over here, I’ve got some nice apples for you……”


Thanksgiving 2013

That time of year rolled around again, and we gathered as a group to enjoy a meal and some fellowship time together; and so, we thought we’d show a few of the sights…

Here are the eating tables decorated very nicely!

Thanksgiving Decorated Table

And here’s the meal table:

Thanksgiving Meal

And the dessert table:

Thanksgiving Dessert

And a very creatively-presented vegetable plate!

Creative Turkey Vegetable Plate

Here’s everyone during meal time:

The Community Group Before the Meal
More of The Community Group Before the Meal
The Community Group During the Meal
More of The Community Group During the Meal
And Even More of The Community Group During the Meal

And everyone relaxing and fellowshipping after the meal:

The Community Group Afterthe Meal
More of The Community Group After the Meal

We are grateful to the Lord for granting us this further enjoyable opportunity to gather in His name, and may we be in CONSTANT thanks to the Lord God Jehovah, King of the universe!

— David

The Orchard – Fall 2013

I thought we would catch everyone up with how our orchard is doing.

The Lord in His wisdom decided not to grant much this year, except…

These were our first apples I believe we’ve received! We were pretty excited, and they tasted yummy!

Apples from Apple Tree, Fall 2013

Very sadly though, shortly after this, the tree began to wither and died. We pray that spiritually the Lord sustains us by the power of His Spirit so that the same doesn’t occur with us, and that by His Spirit He brings forth much fruit! (Please see John Gill on John 15:2 regarding this.)

We also have pecan trees, and here is one that made pecans this year!

Pecan Tree with Pecans, Fall 2013
Fall 2013 Pecans

These are our first harvested pecans:

Our First Harvested Pecans

And the final haul — 26 in all! We’re thankful to God for granting this provision!

The Full Pecan Haul, Fall 2013

I guess it was last year, we began mulching the orchard, starting around the trees, just to get the process going, and then filling in the rest of the area with mulch starting at the back. Well, over the past several months, I tried to get back to doing that, because it really looked like those trees in the fully mulched areas were growing better than those not in it. And so, here’s how far it’s been filled in:

The Orchard, Fall 2013, with Mulching
Another Pic of the Orchard, Fall 2013, with Mulching

We lost some trees this year, especially the apples, but most stayed with us, thanks to the Lord.

We are once again grateful for these resources, and humbly ask the Lord grant that these trees be fruitful, as we again beseech Him by His graces and mercies for the same about us spiritually.

— David

Susan’s Musin’s – Redeeming the Time, Part 2

Back in 2011, I read a book that had a foreword by Dr. C.J. Williams. I am of a naturally curious nature, so I went to his bio online to find out more about his background. In the midst of his short bio, I saw that he had written an article entitled “Redeeming the Time.” Those words really jumped out at me since the Lord had so recently put those verses on my heart, so I obtained permission from my husband to contact Dr. Williams and ask for a copy of the article. Dr. Williams was very gracious to take time out of his busy schedule to look for the article. He was not able to easily locate it for duplication, but he did send me a copy of an older sermon he had preached on the same subject, which I believe God provided to me as a wonderful means of grace to help me grow in this area.

I have included below, with his permission, the sermon notes included in that CD sent by Dr. Williams:

Ephesians 5:15-16

Most people in our fast-paced society regularly agree in the complaint that “time flies”. However, this consensus of modern experience was first captured in the ancient Latin proverb tempus fugit. Time moved no slower for the Romans because the passage of time is a human problem, not a modern one. But, like most human “problems” and the proverbs which accompany them, tempus fugit misses the point. Time is not to blame for moving too quickly, rather, we are to blame for wasting it. The divine corrective is to “redeem the time”.

1. The word “redeem” (Greek exagorazo – “to buy back” or “rescue from loss”) is used only four times in the New Testament. Twice it refers to Christ’s redemption of His people and twice it is found in a command to us to “redeem the time” (Eph. 5:16; Col. 4:5) Obviously, the thing redeemed is of great value and importance to the redeemer. Time is a holy thing to the Christian, truly a “window of opportunity” in the great edifice of eternity. Time is a scarce, precious and unrecoverable thing.

2. The reason we redeem the time is “because the days are evil.” Perhaps so because they are commonly filled with evil things and thoughts, but perhaps also because they are commonly filled with nothing, or at least nothing of importance. Time is not just a neutral measurement of activity that is either good or indifferent. All of life is a spiritual endeavor – there is not “time out” from it. Therefore the default mode of each day is evil. It takes something to redeem a day; it takes nothing to make it evil.

3. So, what does it take? The way we “buy time” according to the apostle is to “walk circumspectly” (i.e. with diligence and carefulness), and to be wise (vs 15). Wisdom is to “understand the will of the Lord” (vs. 17), and a circumspect walk is one that acts upon His will with diligence and carefulness. So much sanctification ahead of us, so many people to whom we can witness, so much to be done for the edification of the church, so much to learn about the Lord who saved us, so much prayer left undone – and so little time. With such things being the business of God’s people, “wasting” time is too gentle a notion. You either redeem it or desecrate it.

4. Now is the time. You only live in a tiny sliver of it called the “present”. The past is unrecoverable (though not unforgivable), and good intentions for the future don’t count. (“Good intentions” are the things we plan to never do, and a clever way to waste the present.) Employ the only time you have, the present, to its most profitable end. Use that time which can be used for spiritual good to the utmost, and “do all things as unto the Lord” during the time that must, of necessity, be filled with more common things. Let rest and entertainment be the servants which refit the body and mind for the work of our calling, not the masters of our time which claim an undue proportion of it. While time lasts, and some is still allotted to you, consider that you will give account for it and use it accordingly.


WOWW-EE-WOW-WOW! “Therefore the default mode of each day is evil. It takes something to redeem a day; it takes nothing to make it evil.” ……. “With such things being the business of God’s people, “wasting” time is too gentle a notion. You either redeem it or desecrate it.” To me, so much food for thought and meditation.

I recently read the following quote from A.W. Pink and thought it might be apropos to this post: “The more we are occupied with the Lord our God, the more shall we be weaned from this perishing world, the more shall we be delivered from Satan’s snares, and the better shall we be equipped for the fight of faith”.

Through all of the means of grace mentioned previously in this post that God graciously has used to teach me, my eyes have been opened to see that time spent in idleness and distractions of folly had become a HUGE idol in my life. The Bible has taught me, and I have seen it so many times, that my flesh is CONSTANTLY at war with my spirit; and unless I ask God for help to be diligent (remembering those words from Dr. Gill: “diligence”, “caution”, “exactness”, “uttermost of his strength and power”) in hungering and thirsting after righteousness and the means of grace God has provided to make a way through this life, the war will be lost.

My dad, after reading Part 1, relayed a personal anecdote to me that I have found helpful in keeping the principle of redeeming the time ever in my focus. He said “Years ago, I was looking into the word ‘circumspectly’ just as you are. What helped me the most was this simplified version, ‘circum’ (circumference) plus ‘specs’ (eyeglasses … to see) = ‘to see all around’.”

My prayer is for God to help all of His children redeem the time and walk increasingly circumspectly in these evil days, and that He may be glorified.


Susan’s Musin’s – Redeeming the Time, Part 1

“See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,

Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” (Eph. 5:15-16)

God has convicted me so strongly on this subject I went to Dr. John Gill and Matthew Henry to assist in my studies and pray their teachings may benefit others as much as it has myself. I will provide more personal insights I have learned at the end of the post.

Here are a few thoughts from Dr. John Gill on these verses:

Ver. 15. See then that ye walk circumspectly,…. “a man should see to it that he does walk, and to the way in which he walks, and how he walks; that he walks circumspectly, with his eyes about him; that he walks with diligence, caution, accuracy, and exactness, to the uttermost of his strength and power; and with wisdom and prudence, looking well to his going”……

Wow, some of the words he uses: “diligence”, “caution”, “exactness”, “uttermost of his strength and power”. To me, these are words that are very purposeful, representing ultra alertness, awareness and carefulness to control what influences our lives and how our lives influence others.

….“not as fools, but as wise” “such walk like fools, whose eyes are not upon their ways; who walk in their own ways, which are crooked, and ways of darkness, and lead to destruction; who walk after the flesh, and naked, without the garments of a holy life and conversation; and with lamps, but no oil in them: and such walk as wise men, who walk according to the rule of God’s word, make Christ their pattern, have the Spirit for their guide, and walk as becomes the Gospel of Christ; inoffensively to all men, in wisdom towards them that are without, and in love to them that are within; and as pilgrims and strangers in this world, looking for a better country; and so as to promote the glory of God, and the good of souls.”

WOW! My prayer is for God to place upon me the “garment of holy life and conversation”…..walking circumspectly “as a pilgrim and stranger in this world, looking for a better country…so as to promote the glory of God.” I almost get physically ill when I think of the decades I have wasted walking as a fool focused on things of this world and lusts of the flesh, causing others to stumble and continue in deception and false comfort.

Ver 16: “Redeeming the time”,…. Or “buying time”; a like expression is used in Da 2:8, which we render, gain time: but in the Chaldee text it is, “buy time”: and so Jacchiades, a Jewish commentator on the place, renders it, Myrkmn Mta tazh teh, “ye buy this opportunity”; and the Septuagint version uses the same phrase the apostle does here; but there it seems to signify a study to prolong time, to put off the business to another season; but here taking time for a space of time, it denotes a careful and diligent use of it, an improvement of it to the best advantage; and shows that it is valuable and precious, and is not to be trifled with, and squandered away, and be lost, as it may be; for it can neither be recalled nor prolonged: and taking it for an opportunity of doing good to ourselves or others, it signifies that no opportunity of discharging our duty to God and man, of attending on the word and ordinances of the Gospel, and to the private and public exercises of religion, of gaining advantage to our own souls, or of gaining the souls of others, and of doing good either to the bodies or souls of men, should be neglected; but even all risks should be run, and means used to enjoy it: in the Syriac and Chaldee languages, anmz, “time”, comes from Nbz, “to redeem”: the reason the apostle gives for the redemption of time is,

because the days are evil; as such are, in which iniquity abounds, and many wicked men live, and errors and heresies prevail, and are days of affliction or persecution; see Ge 47:9.

And here are Matthew Henry’s thoughts on these verses:

(v. 15): See then, etc. This may be understood either with respect to what immediately precedes, “If you are to reprove others for their sins, and would be faithful to your duty in this particular, you must look well to yourselves, and to your own behaviour and conduct” (and, indeed, those only are fit to reprove others who walk with due circumspection and care themselves): or else we have here another remedy or rather preservative from the before-mentioned sins; and this I take to be the design of the apostle, being impossible to maintain purity and holiness of heart and life without great circumspection and care. Walk circumspectly, or, as the word signifies, accurately, exactly, in the right way, in order to which we must be frequently consulting our rule, and the directions we have in the sacred oracles. Not as fools, who walk at all adventures, and who have no understanding of their duty, nor of the worth of their souls, and through neglect, supineness, and want of care, fall into sin, and destroy themselves; but as wise, as persons taught of God and endued with wisdom from above. Circumspect walking is the effect of true wisdom, but the contrary is the effect of folly. It follows, redeeming the time (v. 16), literally, buying the opportunity. It is a metaphor taken from merchants and traders who diligently observe and improve the seasons for merchandise and trade. It is a great part of Christian wisdom to redeem the time. Good Christians must be good husbands of their time, and take care to improve it to the best of purposes, by watching against temptations, by doing good while it is in the power of their hands, and by filling it up with proper employmentβ€”one special preservative from sin. They should make the best use they can of the present seasons of grace. Our time is a talent given us by God for some good end, and it is misspent and lost when it is not employed according to his design. If we have lost our time heretofore, we must endeavour to redeem it by doubling our diligence in doing our duty for the future. The reason given is because the days are evil, either by reason of the wickedness of those who dwell in them, or rather “as they are troublesome and dangerous times to you who live in them.” Those were times of persecution wherein the apostle wrote this: the Christians were in jeopardy every hour. When the days are evil we have one superadded argument to redeem time, especially because we know not how soon they may be worse. People are very apt to complain of bad times; it were well if that would stir them up to redeem time.

WOW! Again! So much wisdom and challenge to the Christian! I understand that nothing I do can earn my salvation, and there is a time for rest, relaxation and revitalization. But, I’ve started asking myself when I have the choice as to how I will spend my time, “Is this spiritually beneficial?” “Will this feed my flesh to the detriment of my spiritual health?” “Will this distract me from meditating on Christ and preparing me for when I come before Him?”

Continued in Part Two, Lord willing…..


Providence’s Perpetuation Provisions: Fourth Batch of Chicks 2013

As we noted in the third hatching of chick the Lord granted us for this year, the mother hen that hatched out our second batch of chicks was broody; and by God’s graces and mercies, here is the result! She hatched out three more chicks, but sadly a week or two ago, while spraying fire ants, I broke my own rule that I had made after the last time I lifted the mini-tractor when I crushed a chick, and ended up with the same result — just stupid, and I knew better. And so now there are only two.

But we are thankful to the Lord for granting these He has granted! I have a feeling they’re both roosters because their combs are already showing a little larger, but we’ll see, Lord willing…

Fourth Batch of Chicks 2013
Another Pic of the Fourth Batch of Chicks 2013

And here is their video:

As always, we are so very grateful to the Lord for graciously perpetuating the flock, and may they bring glory to Him and benefit His Church in some way.

— David

« Older posts