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

Just “Doing”

There are times when you start down a path and really have no idea where you will end up. There are times the path veers a bit and you cannot see the end. I kind of feel like I have been on that path this last while.

What started out as a short break, ended up turning into a lot longer time frame than I would ever have imagined! I had planned on taking a few weeks off; but then the world seemed to upend and a few weeks turned into many months. What started as a short path, stretched out into a longer hike than I thought it would.

Taking that path did give me time to focus on other things in life. I focused on my garden, the lawn mowing that needed doing, trying to stay in contact with family that does not live close and all the other things that make up the every day of life.

While the world was busy trying isolate us and to wrap us in a cocoon and various groups were busy trying to tear down everything in their path I just found it easier to withdraw to my small corner of the world and do what needed doing.

In looking back at the time I was just “doing” I realize I could have accomplished so much more than I did! If I look around; I do see all the things that did NOT get accomplished, however, I also see all the things that DID get done.

The garden got planted, weeded, harvested, and is still producing a few tomatoes that promptly get canned. My pantry looks ready for winter and there were also canned goods that ended up in my children’s pantries.

Family and friends were kept close through phone calls, social media and in person visits.

The fields were planted, tended and are now golden and soon to be harvested and put into storage. The haymow has been replenished with grass hay and there is something satisfying about that.

My new group of chickens has started to lay eggs….the eggs are really tiny right now but they will get bigger as the girls get older. The woodpile has grown with rows of wood, split in anticipation of warming our house for the winter.

All in all, it has been a fulfilling season. There was a comfort in the basic daily tasks that needed doing. There was a beauty in the fact of doing everyday “normal” things. It is good to know that some things do not change, even though the world around us seems to spin out of control.

Sometimes, it is good to focus on the task in front of you. Sometimes, it calms the soul and clears the mind. And sometimes, while you are in the middle of the “doing” you realize that you are exactly where you should be and doing what you should be doing.

“Success is the doing,
not the getting;
in the trying,
not the triumph.”
Zig Ziglar



Keep Your Eye on the Bird

IMG_5465

This morning was a beautiful morning to sit outside and enjoy the cooler weather. I was having my morning cup of tea when I heard a cardinal singing in the tree. I saw it fly from one place to another branch and tried to keep my eye on it.

As I was trying to watch and listen, our cat decided to join me. To be honest she distracted me and I lost track of that flash of red that was the cardinal. I searched and searched but failed to find it back.

I sat for a bit pondering how easily I was distracted from the task I had set for myself. It wasn’t a task of much importance, but I came to realize that there are many large tasks that I also get distracted from.

A thought came to my mind that there are many times I should be keeping my eyes on God and what He would have me do….but I get distracted by crazy things that send my thought in other directions.

I kind of wondered if that is happening in our world today….are we distracted by media news stories that showcase issues and problems that seem to big for us to solve? Are we distracted by social media full of hashtags and trendy sayings that really fix nothing but sound like we are caring? Do we get sidetracked from keeping our eye on the One that has ALL the answers?

The problems are many and they are huge. They seem overwhelming when looked at through the lens of the world. Perhaps we/I should be looking at them through the God’s lens?

As I sat there, sipping on my tea this quiet morning I heard the cardinal sing again. I peered to my left and there the cardinal sat…..a brilliant flash of red, serenading me with a concert that was only enjoyed by the cat and me.

It seemed like a promise…..that even though I might be distracted by the world around me….God is still faithful. He puts me back on track.  I realized that I cannot change the world and fix all the injustices and hurts…..but I can do the task I am given in this small piece of world that is home.

I realized I am only one person….but I can live in such a way that influences those around me. I can be faithful….I can fix my eyes on Him and share His love and the hope that is promised.

May this weekend find you sharing that promise. May this weekend find you doing the task that is yours to do and may you keep your eyes fixed firmly on the  bird.

“The main thing
is to keep the main thing
a main thing.”
Stephen R. Covey

If you chase two rabbits…
both will escape.
verybestquotes.com

New Skills

 

IMG_7629Today I learned a new skill.  I use the term skill very,  very loosely. I think my husband was much more skilled than me. (I know he is much more skilled at this than me!) Today, we butchered a hog…yep…start to finish.

We have butchered deer and chickens in the past….and we actually slaughtered a hog years ago, but then paid someone else to cut it into chops, bacon, hams etc. This time we tried it all on our own.

We were fortunate to get a hog from a farmer who had one that could not be sold, due to a bad leg. Rather than let an entire hog go to waste, we ended up with it and were so grateful.

I found a YouTube video on how to butcher in a Facebook group called IA Farm 2 Table. The video on learning this skill is put on by a couple guys called The Bearded Butchers.

I will have to say those two guys made it look like a walk in the park.  I am here to tell you, our hog did not turn out quite the same as theirs. In fact…I think my husband and I just may have invented a few new “cuts” of meat.

Our excuse for slightly different looking cuts of meat was lack of equipment used by those two bearded butchers. (I am pretty sure our knives would have made them laugh.) I am totally sticking to that excuse!

We did invite our daughter in law to come help, but for some reason she respectfully declined. I am not sure why….I thought it was not too bad cutting up a hog, on a hayrack, under a tree. The breeze was very nice and cool.

As we were cutting it apart I would comment that our cuts did not quite look the same as the video. My husband would respond….”it will still taste like pork. Make it into a roast type hunk and you can do anything with it.” Then we would both start laughing.

We did not do bacon or hams, as that may have really taxed our skills AND we did not have a smoker.  We did attempt roasts, pork chops, and ribs. Tomorrow I hope to can the meat that we cubed. It should be interesting as I have not canned meat in years. I guess that means it is time to give it a whirl again?

We were tired this evening,  so we bagged and froze the fat so it can be rendered into lard later. We also froze the trimmings so we can grind them at a later date.  I will say once all the packages were wrapped; they looked really good!  Almost professional.

I will also say it was an adventure. When I woke up this morning I really was not too excited by the prospect of dealing with the hog. Now that it is packaged and in my freezer I am much more excited about it.

My word of advice for the week—You can teach old dogs new tricks. You can learn new skills. A YouTube video and some makeshift equipment and you are good to go.

What have you learned this week?  I would love to know! Oh……and one more thing…..we still have all our fingers intact.

“Do what you can,
with what you have,
where you are.”

― Theodore Roosevelt