That Time of Year

We have had good weather for getting into the fields and the sound of tractors come from all directions. This is a really good time of year….new expectations, new hopes for the coming season, renewal and sunshine, mixed with a bit of rain, make for a lot of hope for the future.

I probably love this time of year, because it is a time of new beginnings. That seems kind of an odd thing to say when the same stuff gets done year after year. Fields get prepared, seed gets purchased and equipment is whipped into shape for the planting season. Things we do every spring. And yet, it is new beginnings; as it is new seed, a new year of planting and the smell of fresh earth that never grows old.

My farmer husband is pretty old school compared to most in our area. He uses old tractors, an old planter (by today’s standards) and if his rows are straight it is totally his driving skills and not due to GPS technology. Personally, I think he kind of enjoys the thought that it is him and the field and not the field and a computer screen.

In our area we were blessed with some rain. We did not get as much as some miles away, but any amount is totally appreciated and raises expectations for a good year. That might just be the thing that keeps a farmer going…..the hopes and expectations that life will work out, no matter what it looks like right now.

I have learned a lot from farmers….I have learned that you do not give up, I have learned that, while you have no control over so many things in farming, you still prepare and put that seed in the ground and then you stand back and watch what will be.

So much of life is like that…you have no control over so many situations….but you still prepare…you still hope…there is still the expectations and the wonder of standing back and seeing what God will do with whatever is happening right now. The good, the bad, the uncertainty, the things that do not work out and the things that do….all remind me that God has it in hand..and I do not. There is a huge comfort in that thought for me.

May this week find you planning, hoping, expecting and knowing with great assurance that the plan is being worked out (even if we cannot see it) and life is good and living is not just surviving. Plant those seeds and see what God will do.

“Don’t judge each day
by the harvest you reap,
but by the seeds that you plant.”
— Robert Louis Stevenson

Blessings In All Things

In the last 6 weeks I have come to gain a great new respect for those who type with one finger. In January I had a joint replaced in my left little finger….yes they can do that! I also had the carpel tunnel issue in my left hand fixed.

I came home from same day surgery with a wrapped hand and a finger that resembled a snowman with all the white gauze that was wrapped around it. I also was cautioned not to sign any legally binding documents for the next 24 hours….I am still not sure where they thought I would be going or what I would be doing once I got home.

I ended up with a removable splint on my finger for 6 weeks. The first few weeks the splint had to be left on, except to shower. I discovered it is indeed very hard to dress with one hand. (sweats are the pants of choice in that case!) It is actually hard to do a lot of things with one hand.

At one point I really wanted to do something normal, like bake something. I thought I would do something easy like make box brownies. It all went great putting the ingredients in the bowl….then I got out the hand mixer and realized I needed a second hand to hold the bowl while I mixed! My husband was more than happy to do that job, he also was delegated to put the batter in the pan and put the pan in the oven.

By the time two weeks rolled around I was totally ready for the stitches to come out. I went to a niece who is a PA to have her do that. This was done under the watchful eye of my 4 year old great-niece. She asked if it hurt and I told her, honestly, that yes….it smarted but it would feel so much better once it was done. I must have passed the test of a 4 year old, as I got a sticker for “doing good” when I left to go home.

I started out this post saying one fingered typers had gained my respect. My husband is one of those typers and I used to kind of laugh about it. I am not laughing anymore….typing without using all your fingers takes a great amount of skill. I could not believe how many errors I made typing that way.

I am grateful I can, once again, use all of my fingers. I am grateful for surgeons with the skill and knowledge to fix things. I am grateful for sweat pants (yes even for that!), I am so blessed with a husband who will hold the bowl and scoop out the batter when I needed the help. And I am blessed with family and friends who prayed me through the healing.

The older I get, the more I come to realize that life’s true blessings are not in things…..but in the people who are in your life and the love in those relationships.

May this week find you blessed with friends and family; and may you come to see the joy and blessing in all things.

“Happiness isn’t about getting what you want all the time.
It’s about loving what you have and being grateful for it.”
Unknown

Holiday Expectations

I am a day late but I want to wish you all a Merry Christmas from my home to yours! I was hoping this year would be a normal Christmas but, expectations do not always come to pass.

All the kids and grandkids were supposed to make it to our house for Christmas day. The day before Christmas our son called and we found out our daughter in law was not feeling well and had pneumonia.

We did make it to my parent’s home for Christmas Eve and it was a house full of laughter and love. Four generations all under one roof; make for a very special evening. Food, games, gifts and fun were all rolled into 5 hours and is a memory to be treasured. Watching my dad, who just turned 89 and my mom, watch their herd of great-grandchildren was a blessing.

Before we left their home to head back to ours I received a call from son #2….we found out the second daughter in law had stomach flu. We told my sister to make sure and come for dinner on Christmas day as we had a 17# turkey that was way more than we needed for 4 adults and two children.

My husband informed our 10 year old grandson that he would need to eat 2 1/2# of turkey. The grandson did not miss a beat and replied, “I can eat 2 1/2# of pumpkin pie!” (And I think he really could!)

Christmas day came, my sister joined us, we gathered around the table, joined hands and gave thanks for family with us and family that could not be with us. The day was a blessing. We laughed, we talked, we ate, we did a zoom call with those not able to be there, and presents were opened. (some of them were opened.)

There will come a day in either January or February that the rest of those gifts will be opened when we attempt to all gather again. My husband has decreed the tree will not come down till that event occurs….good thing it is an artificial tree!

The photo above is the aftermath of a Christmas well spent….a Christmas where the true meaning was celebrated and gifts were a by-product. It is good to be reminded to be grateful for what we do have. We had a day with our oldest son and his family and my sister….and that was a true gift.

May this day find you feeling blessed by the love of family and friends. May your holidays be wonderful even if they do not turn out like you had planned. May you know the blessing of Christ’s birth and the grace of God.

Merry Christmas!

 “Love without motives.
Give without expectations.
Forgive without conditions.”
Unknown

Dads

Yes….I realize Father’s Day is over and that I missed it by one day. But I kind of feel like we should maybe celebrate dads more than just one day…at least the good ones.

I decided I would give a quick shout out to the dads in my life. My dad was a great example of what a dad and husband should be like. Once he became a grandpa he excelled at that job also. His grandkids love him dearly. He taught me what men should act like and how men should treat others…with respect and integrity. It never mattered to my dad (and still doesn’t) what someone possesed or what someone looked like….you treated them all with respect.

Because of my dad; I knew what to look for in husband material. My farmer husband was and is a great dad. He attended his son’s events…from cross country races, to band and music concerts, to programs at school and church and everything in between. He taught our sons how to hunt, how to treat others fairly and how to generally grow up to be men of character.

This man I call husband, might not be perfect (okay….he isn’t, but neither am I so it works out well) but he is perfect for me and perfect for our family. He also has jumped into the role of Grandpa and has excelled at it.

We have three sons who have become dads. Our middle son just celebrated his first Father’s Day this year. It has been a blessing watching these three men with their children. They are dads who are “hands on”….They change diapers, take their kids to parks, take them to taekwando lessons, attend programs, take time off work to tend sick kids and so many other “dad” tasks.

They are men who climb 14ers in Colorado, run marathons, fix motorcycles, love fishing and boating and build legos but still have time for those who are important in their lives.

It has been a joy to watch those three boys in the photo turn into men of integrity and men who love their families. I can only hope they realize what they mean to me. I can only hope all those dads in my life know what they mean to me. My life has been richer for knowing these dads. I am thinking I should probably tell them to make sure they know this fact!

My hope is that you have all been blessed knowing at least one good “dad” in your life. If you haven’t…rest assured there are good dads out there…..and if you have sons….you get the chance to raise them to be good dads.

“I believe that what we become
depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments,
when they aren’t trying to teach us.
We are formed by little scraps of wisdom.”
― Umberto Eco

Outfox the Fox

Mom Fox

My girls are not happy with me. I don’t blame them for feeling that way as I am never happy when I am cooped up either.

A little back history as to why they are stuck in the chicken coop/run these last days…..

A while back we noticed a fox hanging around our place. My husband was pretty excited as the last years fox have been very scarce in our area. Coyotes had moved in and the fox population had moved out.

This particular fox seemed to have taken a fancy to the old schoolhouse that is on our acreage. We would see her darting under the building at random times of the day. Last week my husband came to the house to let me know he had seen her with fox pups.

To be honest I was not sure how I felt about a den of foxes right on our yard. My thoughts were that my chicken flock was going to be rapidly disappearing. For a bit, Mom Fox seemed to ignore the girls. In fact the girls would fearlessly run as a group toward the fox! (There has got to be a lesson in stupidity in there somewhere!) Mom Fox would look startled and head under the schoolhouse.

This past week the dynamic changed….Mom Fox found out that a chicken is a very tasty meal. My husband thought I would want the fox family cleared out;…..but I am torn. I want my girls safe….but I also really enjoy watching this fox family. (That is when I can catch a glimpse of them).

At this point in time the girls are stuck in their chicken coop/run area while we try figure out how to keep them safe, let them roam a bit and still have the fun of watching the family of foxes grow up.

My hope is that when we get busy mowing lawn and doing the busy outdoor work of summer, that the Mom Fox will decide it is no longer safe and move her family elsewhere…like far enough away that she won’t come back hunting a chicken dinner.

I am not sure how this will all turn out…..but I have always been an optomist and really don’t feel like changing that veiwpoint any time soon. I have a feeling there are lessons to be learned, while we wait for the fox family to move on. Lessons in patience, lessons in enjoying what is put before us even though it comes at a price.

I am not sure if we will be outfoxing the fox or just out-lasting the fox…..either way…it should prove interesting.

“With foxes we must play the fox.” 
– Thomas Fuller

Ordinary to Extraordinary

Clivia

The plant with the beautiful orange flowers was given to me as a starter piece many years ago by my mom-in-law. She got her first piece from her mom and I am not sure how far back this plant really goes. I have given pieces to my children so they can also enjoy them.

I found out it is a Clivia and it blooms once a year around Easter (at least that is how mine seems to bloom). 

This plant always reminds me of our lives….most of the time we just do ordinary, everyday things–plain green leaf kind of things. 

Every so often, we are called to be extraordinary–to bloom with a beauty, a radiance, a daring to be more than what we think we are. A call to be obedient to our Father and step away from the plain green leaf existence of our normal, daily lives.

Listen for that nudge, hear the call and take that first step of obedience and see what extraordinary thing He will do…..even if it only happens once a year.

 

 Faith is taking the first step
even when you can’t see the whole staircase.
– Martin Luther King Jr.

Gardens and Promises

Planted Potatoes

Some things in life never seem to change. The passing of the seasons is one of them. My husband and I like to try get our potato crop in on the Easter weekend. I am not sure of the reason why, but it seems this is the traditional time to do so.

Fortunately, this year the weather cooperated with that goal. After some extremely cold weeks this winter, late winter snows….some more cold weather…some drizzly weather (I will not say rainy because for us it wasn’t enough to really qualify as rain), another bit of snow….we finally came to the Easter weekend.

This was a glorious Easter weekend as weather goes. The days kept getting warmer and the wind finally started to slow down. By saturday, my husband decreed the ground was ready for the tiller and we could put some seed potatoes into the ground.

There is something about tilling the ground early in the spring. The smell of dirt, the excitement of the chickens over that newly tilled ground (that is another whole story) and the promise of a good crop of potatoes from those small cut up seed potatoes.

It is an act of faith putting those small pieces into the ground. It is faith in the fact that the rains will come when they should, the sun will shine as it should and with lots of care the crop will be successful.

There is something symbolic about planting potatoes on Easter weekend. When you stop and think about it, it is almost spiritual. The fact of putting those seed potatoes in the ground brings to mind how Christ was buried and rose again.

Maybe that is why I like getting my garden started on Easter weekend. I like to claim the promise of life to come….both in my garden and in life. I love the assurance that God is in control and all will be right with the world.

May this weekend find you claiming the promise. May you find joy in the everyday things that are put before you. May you have time to dig in the dirt, plant a few seeds, and know that the rest is out of your control, and may you find great comfort in the fact that it is not all up to you.

Our Lord has written the promise of resurrection,
not in books alone,
but in every leaf in springtime.
– Martin Luther

A Day At a Time

 

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Sometimes a day turns into a week, turns into a month, turns into a lot longer. That is kind of how my blogging (or lack of it) seems to be going. I could plead busyness…….I could plead the general state of our world….and it would be true. I could blame the grayness of our Iowa winter….and that would also be true.

None of those things by themselves should have turned off the blogging tap. Perhaps it was the perfect storm combined with a severe case of writers block…in fact, I think, I am dealing with an entire wall of writers’ blocks.  My brain still seems to be suffering from that and I have yet to find the remedy.

It seems that even as I sit here typing these random words; the creativity of words is buried so deep in my brain that I kind of wonder if they will ever find release again! My brain kind of feels like those frozen ice balls I saw on Lake Michigan last weekend….they just kind of roll around in the cold gray water and don’t seem to go anywhere. 

Somewhere in the middle of my vacation from the blogging world I was told I had a blogiversary.  It has been 5 years since I entered the world of bloggers and WordPress. What started out with great gusto has dwindled to zip and like I said…I am not quite sure how that happened.

I find that happens a lot in life. My husband always points out that everything happens…”A day at a time, until it is many days and weeks and months.” Sometimes this is good and sometimes it is not…also true of many things in life!

So many things happen one day at a time….one day we are young and it seems the next day we look in the mirror and we aren’t anymore. (At least I seem to have that issue!) In the blink of an eye our children are grown and have families of their own. 

The experience of how swiftly time moves was driven home a weekend ago. My siblings and I took a road trip to Michigan to celebrate the life of my cousin. He was only 53 before losing a valiant battle with cancer. I had not seen any of the Michigan cousins for a very long time. 

There was lots of laughter amidst the sadness. So much remembering and story telling of shared eperiences. There was celebrating of the fact that my cousin left an amazing legacy of faith that lives on his children and his wife, his friends, his co-workers and all who knew him. 

The weekend was a reminder about how fleeting this life really is. Fleeting like those ice balls on Lake Michigan…here today…floating in the icy water, but come Spring they will be just a memory.  It was a reminder to cherish the moments we have…to make time for the small things that don’t seem important right now, but do end up being the biggest things.

Make those memories today, because those are the things your family will cherish. Teach your children and grandchildren the truths that are important…faith in God, the importance of family, that honesty and integrity are worth the trouble, that truth…no matter how hard, is important and that finding joy in the small things makes life so much easier. 

These are the things I relearned that weekend in Michigan as I listened to Brent’s brothers, parents, co-workers and friends talk of the life he lived. 

May our lives be more than just ice balls floating in a lake. May the message that is our lives last far beyond a season….and hopefully our friends and families will someday celebrate a life well lived, with laughter, stories and joy.

Cherish your yesterdays,
dream your tomorrows
and live your todays.
~Anonymous

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holy Ground

Last week was spent with family. My dad in law passed away and we spent an entire day waiting with Mom for Dad’s homegoing.

My sister texted me as we sat in that nursing home and told me that I was on “holy ground”. Indeed…..it was holy ground. That sacred space between this world and the next. Waiting for Dad to make his way into the arms of the waiting Father.

Last week was an honor and a privilege. It was a celebration and a heart ache. Those days, where time narrowed and focused on the life of one man….my dad in law. Time stood still….the world and it’s big issues were ignored and love and family time consumed us.

Memories were shared. Many heavy sighs were breathed. Tears and laughter mingled at the same time…. Hearts ached for those of us left behind and rejoiced for Dad who journeyed on ahead.

Memories of a man who loved to sing and play harmonica. Memories of a man who tilled the soil and milked cows…a man who was incredibly proud of his military service and a man who loved a good bag of jelly beans. We remembered a man who loved his wife and his family well.

Dad wasn’t perfect, but he was perfect for our family and for the life he lived. He left many memories for Mom, his children, grandchildren, family and friends and those memories will be passed along to his great grandchildren.

Looking back on that week brings the realization of what really is important. Living honestly, loving well, building relationships with family and friends and understanding that this life is not about us.

We stood in that cemetery on a beautiful morning. We listened to the pastor remind us that our hope is not in this temporary dwelling place…we saw my mom in law receive the American flag ….we heard the shots echo and the lonely sound of taps played in the distance.

We did not say good-bye as we stood on holy ground. We knew this was instead “till we meet again”. We got to see what a legacy really looks like ….faith….family….and how your life is lived in the time you are given.

Thank you Dad for the lessons you taught…not only in how to live life but how to leave this life for the next. You will be missed…till we meet again.

“You live to die….
you die to live.”
Ruth Fondse

What We Stand In Need Of

I was outside the other evening locking the girls (my chickens) in for the night. It was quiet, the moon was big and the barn was just a silhouette against the sky.

It was a good time to just stand out there and think about what is happening all around me. To be honest, I avoid the news as I don’t really like thinking about all the crazy that is going on right now in this country.

I got to thinking about my dad and how he prays. Somewhere in his prayers he always asks for “what we stand in need of”. Those words are really a huge leap of faith.

Saying those words gives over control of our lives to our Creator and that can be scary because you never really know what He will use to work for our good.

Sometimes the way is easy and we, at least me, are positive that we are indeed blessed because it is easy. Sometimes, like the world now, the journey seems bleak, dark and so twisted that we will never find our way through. It does not always feel like a blessing on that journey.

I stood outside in the dark, listening to the night sounds…the rustling of little critters in the grass…the soft cackle of a hen from the chicken coop and the distant sound of a combine still in the field. My mind wondered if this twisted journey is “what we stand in need of”.

Perhaps all the “stuff” going on right now…from covid to unrest to crazy debates is what is needed to make us sit up and listen. Maybe it is the refining we need; so when we make it through to the other side we will end up where we are supposed to be.

Maybe, just maybe, it isn’t so much about what is happening around us, but what is happening inside of us. And Maybe it isn’t so much about where we are right now, but where we will be down the road.

May we use this somewhat weird time to grow, to learn, to listen and to follow the One who never changes. May we be given “what we stand in need of”.

“We must be able
to let go of the life we have planned
in order to live the life
that is waiting for us.”

“Life is 10% what happens to you
and 90% how you react to it.”
– Charles R. Swindoll