Rain, Grace and the Cultivated Heart

 

Geraniums Prov 27 19.jpg

There is something magical about standing under an umbrella in a soft summer rain. We had a beautiful rainfall during the night and into the morning.

As I let my “girls” out for the day I stood in my backyard and just enjoyed the smell of the rain as it hit the grass, the sound as it ran off the eaves of the house; into the rain barrels, the coolness of the drops as they landed on exposed skin and the hazy, filmy look it gave everything as it washed the world clean. It was a feast for the senses. I was too busy enjoying myself; to run and get the camera.  (Some things just need to be kept in a corner of your memory to be taken out and enjoyed later.)

Soft summer rains refresh and renew. They clean the dust off the leaves and buildings that accumulate on our hot muggy days. They are cooling, nurturing and life-giving.

The soft rains remind me that softness and gentleness are always better received than harsh, in-your-face attitudes and comments. This is a lesson that is a good reminder for me as I do like to “fix” things. I need to remember that “gracious words are…….; sweetness to the soul and health to the body.” Prov. 16:24

I have seen what hard rains can do. They pelt and they hurt when you stand in them. They usually leave a mess when they are done. My husband has often commented, “Sometimes too much rain is worse than no rain at all.” And he is right.

A blogging friend made a comment about a “cultivated heart”.  I suspect that the requirements to getting one of those hearts are soft gentle rains in the form of encouragement, gently delivered wisdom from trusted friends, regular fellowship with those who lift up, but lovingly disciple, and those who will walk with you. These are the people who will gently point out areas in life and heart that need tending; but who will leave the deep tilling and the painful ripping out of deep rooted weeds to the Master Gardner.

A cultivated heart is born out of life experiences. It has let those experiences make it better and not bitter. It has decided to survive and thrive through the circumstances that life tosses in it’s way. It knows that life is not always easy; but has decided to take the chance to bloom and flower anyway so that others may be encouraged and flourish.

A cultivated heart opens the garden gate to the Gardener so it can be lavished with love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal. 5:22) and then it opens the gate again and showers others with the blessing of those same gifts.

It is grace…..it is a gentle summer rain.

May you be blessed with a warm summer rain that waters your soul and cultivates your heart. May you graciously receive and extend grace.

May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass,
like showers that water the earth!
Psalm 72:6
ESV

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bars That Don’t Last

 

 

The Last of the Caramel Rice Krispy Bars.JPG

I spent last week baking sheet cakes for my nephews’ wedding, delivering cakes to the Events Center, attending the wedding,  cutting cake at the wedding, and the weekend recuperating from cake making, baking, taking and cutting.

I say recuperating because in my haste to get the cakes into the event center on Thursday, I tried to make a new doorway. Yup, I was not paying attention and tried walking through a solid pane of glass. (In my defense…..it was right next to the actual doorway.) My nose did not fare too well. If you have ever heard the term “bled like a stuck hog” that would adequately describe it.

I was fortunate that my sister and niece showed up right as I did this. Yes, it did hurt my pride that they saw me doing a stupid thing, but it was really a God thing that they showed up when they did as I was not feeling too good after that. It is amazing how a person (me) can hurt like that and beat themselves up more yet because of pride and hating to look stupid.  I think I will be memorizing the verse at the bottom as a reminder.

I spent some time laying on a bench in the restroom; waiting for the cut on my nose (from my glasses) to quit bleeding and then waiting for the lightheadedness to pass. Normally I can take a lot but this one really knocked me silly for a time.

The rest of the day (and the next day) was spent applying ice and essential oils to my nose in the hope it would not swell outrageously; and around my eyes in the hope of avoiding a “raccoon-like” appearance.

By the time the wedding started ,on Friday, it did not look too bad; other than the cut on the bridge of my nose. My kids, who are detail oriented, did notice immediately and needed to know what happened. I told them I had tangled with a pane of glass and lost.  After being properly sympathetic they did a lot of smirking. I can’t blame them I probably would have also!

When leaving the reception, after the dance, my nephew graciously pointed out which were the doors and which was the glass pane that I should avoid. (I love you too Spencer!)  And yes, I do love my kids and those nieces and nephews. They are wonderful people and have the funniest sense of humor….slightly twisted…..but funny.  Life would be pretty dull without them.

My kids – those who could make it here for the wedding – came on Saturday to spend some time.  And it was a great time! I wanted to make something simple for an afternoon snack so I chose an all time favorite……Caramel Rice Krispy Bars.

These bars are amazing and really take the regular Rice Krispy Bars up way more than one notch. Another plus is the fact they are so very easy to make. (after my marathon cake baking and face smashing experience I was all for simple and easy.)

Caramel Rice Krispy Bars
1/4 cup margarine
6 cups mini marshmallows
6 cups Rice Krispies
(Note: you will need to make this twice.)
14 oz. pkg. caramels
1/4 cup margarine
14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
Melt 1/4 cup margarine and marshmallows. (I do this in the microwave)
Add cereal and pat into buttered 9×13 inch pan.
Melt caramels, 1/4 cup margarine and condensed milk. (also in microwave)
Pour over layer of Rice Krispies in pan
Refrigerate for 30 – 40 minutes
Prepare another batch of the cereal mixture and put on top of caramel layer.
Keep refrigerated

I would have taken a picture of a bigger bar and put it on a plate for a nicer presentation; but the photo I used is definitely what your pan will look like very quickly when you serve these.  They do not stick around very long and any caramel left in the bottom usually gets scraped up and eaten.

No cakes were harmed in the
incident with the
pane of glass.
Faye K.

For am I now seeking the approval of man,
or of God?
Galatians 1:10a

Garden Maintenance

Weeding Tomatoes

It is amazing to me how fast the weeds seem to grow in my garden. It does not seem that long ago that I spent a couple days, hand pulling weeds, hoeing and mulching that garden. Here one week later I need to do it all over again.

After hanging up a load of wash I thought I would venture over to the garden and unfortunately no one had taken care of the weed problem.  I crawled over my chicken wire panels (to keep out the rabbits) and started pulling them out (the weeds).

In my years of gardening I have found out that you must be diligent in the care and maintenance of a garden plot. In my years of living I have also found out I must be diligent with the care and maintenance of my spiritual life. In both cases if I do not maintain them regularly the “weeds” will outgrow the plants and eventually kill them. I digress….

I also discovered that I have been having a visitor to my fenced in garden area. I found two new “doorways” along the back fence. A woodchuck has burrowed under the fence and been helping himself to my lettuce and carrots. I have filled his “doorway” back up with dirt but I have a feeling he will be back.Chuck

This is an old picture of a woodchuck that we named Chuck (very creative right?) He used to come “visit”  our house quite often.  He even spent the winter in our garage back when we had a dirt floor. I think our new visitor might be one of his descendants that is terrorizing my vegetables. Now if I could just train them to eat the weeds and leave the vegetables.

For some reason he does not seem to eat the onions. This fact is totally understandable to my husband who doesn’t want to eat them either.

Onions!!.JPG

Gardening is an ongoing struggle to stay ahead of the weeds and various critters who think I have planted it just for them. It is worth the struggle!

Much of life is like gardening.  It can be a lot of work that needs to be done over and over again. There are always plenty of “weeds” waiting to take over and just suck the joy out of life. But don’t give up. There is a harvest coming. That is a promise I am hanging on to.

Until then I will water, weed, and enjoy the journey of life and gardening.

Enjoy your weekend and may you find joy in your journey.

In simple humility,
let our gardener God,
landscape you with the Word,
making a salvation
-garden of your life.
James 1: ~21

 

 

Klondike, Iowa

Tree Klondike

I spent my day making, baking and decorating sheet cakes for a wedding. So I am probably slacking off and going to treat you to some photos and history of an area that my husband and I have enjoyed for our entire dating and married life.

My post of June 19, 2016 had a photo of a foundation at the site of the town of Klondike, IA.It is an area I love, as the scenery is beautiful and it is a great place to go fishing.

One of the most distinctive things that has remained unchanged over the years is the bridge that spans the Big Sioux River. Vehicles no longer travel over this bridge as a concrete one was built years ago.  The old one used to get flooded over on a regular basis in the spring.

Old Klondike Bridge

Up until about 4-5 years ago this area also had a dam that used to channel the water for the grain mill had been on the Iowa side of the river.

Since that time they have taken out the dam and replaced it with a series of rapids so that people who like to kayak can do so without portaging around it. As I am not a kayaker I kind of miss the dam and the sound of the rushing water and the spray of the water as it poured over the dam.

Klondike Rapids

For me the mill site is probably the most fascinating.  I remember as a teen there were still remnants of the large wooden structure that used to stand on the foundations. Back then there really wasn’t a historical society in the county so nothing was done to preserve it and it eventually fell apart.

There are some foundations left; but some were removed when the rapids were made. It is interesting (to me) to try figure out how it all used to look.

There are still a couple families that call Klondike home. Many of the stories of Klondike are lost to history. There are some stories that I have no idea if they are based in fact…..such as the one about Lawrence Welk playing there with his band.

I do wonder what those early pioneers were like.  The ones who settled at Klondike, built the dam, built the mill, built stores that have long since been demolished and lived their lives next to the river…..what would they think if they saw it now?  Why did the mill quit? Why did this small town go the way of so many small towns? Is all progress really progress?

I know I cannot stop time but it would sure be interesting to be able to look back and know what drove them. I think they probably had the same hopes, dreams and fears we do now.   I have a feeling it is the love of families, wanting a better life, the need to make a difference, faith and maybe wanting to leave a legacy.

We may not know who they were but the fact that it still leaves us wondering and questioning; is perhaps a legacy in itself.

The greatest legacy one can pass on to one’s children and grandchildren
is not money or other material things accumulated in one’s life,
but rather a legacy of character and faith.
Billy Graham

Special thanks to my son Joe who took the black and white and sepia toned pics back in 2008.

The Swimming Pool/Hole

The Adult Wading Pool.JPG

I finally put up my pool…..or as I call it my adult wading pool.  Several years ago I purchased one of these 10′ x 30″ pools when it was on sale. It was a great decision.

Some years it gets put up and some years it doesn’t. Now that I have a couple grandkids it seems like it could be a lot of fun so I hauled it out and filled it up.

It does take three days to fill it as we do not have rural water and our only source is the well on our place. (Fortunately this well has never been known to go dry even in the very dry 80’s.)  So I pace myself and fill it one third at a time.

While filling the pool my husband and I spent some time reminiscing about our experiences as kids and swimming.  We remembered those cold early morning swimming lessons that we were required, by our parents, to take. The town kids (me) got to take their bikes to the pool….the country kids (my husband) carpooled with about 5 neighboring families to the pool in town.  They just jammed the cars full of kids and went to town….who needed seatbelts?

The first couple years that we took lessons we had to get on a school bus at 7:00 in the morning to go to a pool in the next town. Once our town built a pool we finally got to have later morning lessons. The year our parents finally thought we knew enough to keep from drowning they let us quit. I was very grateful for that.

My experience with swimming as a kid was very different from my husbands. I lived in town and my folks thought it would be a good idea for us to earn the money ourselves to purchase our own pool pass. We spent time working for an elderly lady, nicknamed the Goose Lady (because she had geese), pulling weeds and cleaning her house.  We also walked beans and detasseled corn.  Once we had enough; we went straight to the pool and bought our passes and spent our afternoons in the town pool. Nice and clean and chlorinated.

My husband, on the other hand, grew up in the country and only spent time in the town pool for those dreaded lessons. He would play in the ditches after a rainfall. If he, his brothers and his buddies really felt adventurous they would bike to a creek in the next mile. Once there they would wade into the shallow creek, where they sunk past their ankles into the mud. They would then venture under the wood bridge that spanned the road.  He said the water was deeper there but I do wonder if they perhaps just sunk deeper into the mud.

He told me they had to watch where they walked under that bridge as it seemed to be a dumping spot for old rolled up barbed wire and anything else that farmers didn’t want.

He related that to cool off they would go underwater and when they came up they usually had twigs, pigeon droppings, leeches and who knows what else clinging to them. I have a feeling they had some very strong antibodies in their systems!

Our boys were also farm boys but they had an upgrade from a creek.  We would fill the 2′ x 4′ stock tank and let them cool off in there. They spend many fun hours with each other and cousins in that stock tank. Every so often we would head for the river (when it was not to high), find a sand bar and take them swimming and fishing in the river.

I love it that filling my pool brings back so many good memories of our childhood and of raising our boys.  It is just another plus to putting the pool up. It is probably a good thing it takes 3 days to fill….just extra days for those memories!

Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

The tan lines fade,
but the memories last forever…….
unknown

Father’s Day

Firm Foundation.jpg

My husband and I love to wander around old places and find out the history of those places. At a place called Klondike there are the remnants of an old mill. It has been years since the wood structure gave way to time and the elements but the foundation remains.

It is a great reminder that foundations, if built correctly and solidly, will stand the test of time and not fall apart when the storms come. It is a great visual for life and came to mind when I was reflecting on Fathers Day.

When I was a kid, my siblings and I used to ask how come Dad’s and Mom’s got their own special day and kids didn’t.  My dad used to reply that “every day is kid’s day”.  I didn’t understand back then; but as a parent and grandparent, I finally understand what he meant.

As a kid you don’t realize how much work parents put into raising their children. Looking back I can see how much work and how deep we had to dig to put in that firm foundation for our boys.  Fortunately my husband and I were blessed with parents who showed us by example, how to do that. And hopefully we left and are still leaving a foundation for our kids and our grandchildren. It is truly an investment in the future.

In honor of all those dads who put in the time and effort to be a dad….I honor you on this day made for dads. I know that not every child is blessed to have a dad who made the dad job a priority.

Last night, my husband and I got to hear an artist named Chris Tomlin sing at a festival called Rise Fest.  He sang a song that was perfect for this Fathers Day.  It is perfect if you had/have a great dad or if you had/have a dad who is way less than great.

I am happy to share the link with you for the song Good, Good Father”  This song gives a great message of hope that no matter what kind of earthly father we have. Our heavenly Father will never disappoint, will never let go, and will never cease to love us.

May you have a blessed Fathers Day this Sunday.

It is not flesh and blood
but the heart which makes us fathers and sons. 

Johann Schiller

 

 

 

 

 

Remembering The Flood of 2014

Flood 2014

Flood of 2014

 

The weather has been really hot the last days and very humid. It would be so easy to complain about it (and I do) but I keep trying to remember that it can always be worse.

Two years ago the view from our porch was very different than it is today. After days of rainfall an earthen dam built by the WPA at a state park in Minnesota gave way.  All that water made it’s way downstream and some ended up by us….actually a lot ended up by us.

Typically the river is in it’s banks safely behind the line of trees in the photo above. Typically you can put on some boots and walk across it as it is a very shallow river…usually.

Normally we have a 30 foot cliff that looks over the river…..not two years ago. The photo below is the top of that cliff and the “lake” beyond my husband; is our cornfield

Water to top of the Cliff.JPG

Looking back; the eeriest thing about the flooding was that you could hear the river.  Normally it is a pretty quiet little river. Two years ago you could stand on the porch and instead of hearing the usual tractors, wind, and birds you heard water rushing through the fields and through the branches of the trees.

We were fortunate compared to many. We lost some acres of crop due to flood waters but others lost possessions and homes and all the memories that go with those items. There are bridges that were washed out on many gravel roads and they have still not been repaired.  For those living on those roads it has been an adjustment.

It was a blessing to see how people, churches, and businesses all banded together to get entire communities and families back on their feet. The people in this area are amazing.

I told someone recently that I am a “glass half-full” kind of person. I can usually see the bright side of most things (at least after awhile I can). Watching the waters come up two years ago made me realize exactly who was in control of my glass and that I really did not even own my glass. I was reminded that God had this and I should trust Him.

There are so many things in life I have no control over……other people, circumstances, jobs, weather, health to name a few. I might think I have control and then along comes a flood of some type and I realize, once again, that God is God and I am not. I am reminded I can only see this small portion of my life, but God can see the beginning and the end of my days. For that I am grateful.

May you have a blessed weekend!

 

When you go through deep waters,
I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up;
the flames will not consume you.
Isaiah 43:2  NLT

 

For more photos of the flooding of 2014 please click on the link below.  This young man is a storm chaser, friend of my son, and a great photographer.

Brent Koops Photography