The Winter Season

The start of Winter.JPG

The last days have suddenly made the month of December real….weather-wise. We had been having unseasonably warm temperatures (and I was good with that). We are now having cooler than normal temps for this time of year. (Things change quickly!)

Our children had snow where they live so we know winter is on it’s way. My heart and mind are ready for the festive part of this season…..my mind and body are not ready for the weather that accompanies it.

In protest of the sudden drop into the deep freeze I am posting a couple of my favorite summer photos. They were taken in a city park not far from here. It is one of my favorite places to go and just walk around.  When our sons were small we used to take them there to go fishing.

I digress…..back to the reality that is……cold Iowa weather. There is a small comfort that we are only getting wind…it could be snow with wind this time of year…or worse yet….ice.

My husband had been to a consignment auction the beginning of this week.  That day the weather was not too bad. Today when we went to go pick up his lone purchase the wind was a lazy wind….the kind that blows right through you rather than around you. The consignment auction site is basically an alfalfa field. There are no trees to stop the vicious wind and the corn stubble in the next field is no help at all.

The one consolation with the cold wind was seeing the flocks of geese that finally decided it was time to go south. The last two days have seen large flocks of Canadians, snows and blues flying in big V’s over our place.  This brought to mind one of my dad’s favorite questions regarding geese and one you can ask your kids and grandkids. (I would be surprised if they knew the answer.)

Question: When geese are flying in a V formation why is one line always longer than the other?
Answer:   Because there are more geese in it.
(This joke, years ago, actually got one of my sons out of taking a science test in high school.  The teacher challenged them to ask her a science type question that she couldn’t answer….it worked!)

I think I love the geese flying over because they sometimes go right over our house. When they are flying low you can even hear them honking.  I wonder what they are saying as they hurry by, anxious to get to their destination. Some days the wind seems to be blowing them along and other days I wonder how they manage to make any headway against it.

Some days are like that….going with the wind and others feel like a struggle as things just seem to push you back to where you started. I guess a lesson from the geese could be learned…..keep flying and focusing on where you are going. Some days may take you longer…but you will get there.

Their honking has a lonesome wild sound to it that touches someplace deep inside. I am not sure if that sound hits me because it sounds so wild or if it sounds like a promise. It tells me that the seasons are running according to the order set in place at the beginning of this earth. It speaks of the constancy of certain things in life.

So many things can change and spin around in this world and turn life upside down; but the geese will still fly south when the weather turns wintry and they will return in the spring. They are as constant as grass turning green, wind blowing in Iowa and snow melting in the spring.

I love the promise that comes with the seasons. I love the order God built into this ball called Earth. I do know I appreciate spring and summer a lot more because of going through a cold winter season and maybe that is why we go through those seasons.

I also know that once the geese are done flying for this migration;  I will be scanning the sky when the spring thaw comes and I will be looking for their return. Such is the blessing of hope.

 

You have established all the boundaries of the earth;
You have made summer and winter.
Psalm 74:17

A Little Taste of Christmas

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My husband and I had the pleasure of attending our grandson’s school Christmas program this past week. I say it was a pleasure because it really was. Four days later, the thought of that program still brings a smile to my face and a feeling of contentment.

We enjoyed watching a large group of 3 – 5 year old preschoolers sing their love of Jesus. It was Wigglers.JPGso much fun watching them do actions, wave at their parents and grandparents, sing, wave some more, do some more actions (not all that belonged to the song) and yes wave at their siblings and parents…….

I was a little fearful that the back row of kids were going to fall off the risers and vanish, with all the squirming, twisting, turning, waving and peering around that they were doing. I thought the teachers showed great insight when they stationed themselves behind those risers and would steady the wiggling masses every now and then.

I discovered that little girls in their sparkly dresses, velvety hair bows, and shiny patent shoes were just as mobile as the small boys were. There was a lot of energy bouncing around on the risers that night.

Somewhere in the middle of all the waving, bouncing, and twisting; those little kids told the amazing story of Christmas. Maybe it was the innocence of children all dressed in their Christmas best….  Maybe it was the atmosphere of excitement…..Maybe it was the gathering of everyone in that gym who came because of love….I am still not totally sure, but somewhere between the start of that program and the ending; the real meaning of Christmas kind of washed over me.

The feeling stole in unnoticed and was covered by the sound of children. Perhaps the sound of children was part of it? All I know is by the time we finished that program and all sang Silent Night from memory there were tears in my eyes and I had the feeling that I had just made a visit to that stable in Bethlehem with a group of preschoolers as my guide.

I am convinced that children are some of the world’s best messengers when it comes to the Christmas story.  Their pure delight in praise, their uninhibited display of joy, and the love that lights up their eyes when they find their family in the crowd all testify to an unconditional love.

It was also a lot of fun to watch my grandchildren after that program.  The school served cookies, coffee and juice afterwards. I had to laugh when those two wee ones would look around to see if their folks were watching and if not, another cookie would quickly disappear into their mouths.  They were chewing as fast as they could.

Our weekend with our family passed way too quickly. It did not take long and we were on our way back home again. The morning we left we got to enjoy the seasons first snowfall with them. (I should say their season’s first snowfall.)

Our grandson woke us up that Sunday morning by running into our room and asking  if we had looked outside. I told him no we had not. In a voice filled with wonder he announced, “It snowed.”

It did not take long and the scrambling for snow pants, boots, mittens and hats started. They sat on the deck and made little miniature snowmen, complete with twig arms, raisin eyes and carrot noses.

After warming up with a cup of hot chocolate it was time for us to get in the car and make the long drive home and for them to head for church.  (fortunately for them, their church has an early and a late morning service.)

squirrelI do wonder if the raisin eyes and carrot noses on those snowmen survived till they got home from church…..their backyard is home to a lot of squirrels.  I have a feeling if they do disappear; it will not be a problem.  The energy and optimism of a three and a five year old will just go ahead and build some new snowmen.

Hope springs eternal in the hearts of children. Magic is to be found in every snowflake and life is something to be danced to like it was music…….and maybe it is……we might have to just listen closely with the heart of a child.

May we take the time to look at the coming week with the heart of a child.  Take time to dance and find the magic.

The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree:
the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other.

Burton Hillis quotes 

Read more: http://www.searchquotes.com/quotes/about/Kids_Christmas/1/#ixzz4S2CPMeAY

The Princess Pig

Princess the Pig gets a snack.JPG

It is always hard to know what to get for the birthday of a three year old.  Do you purchase more toys? Do you construct something that will last for years? (I should say have your husband construct something….) Should a grandparent buy more books? It is just hard to know.

I asked my daughter in law what she would like my granddaughter to have. It was suggested to look for a piggy bank. When my husband and I went to the store to look for one we were amazed at the variety of banks that are now available to kids…..Elsa banks, Mickey Mouse banks, Darth Vader banks, and the list goes on.

I remember as a kid, having a clear glass piggy bank that had no way to get the money back out. No opening in the bottom with a rubber stopper. We became pretty adept at holding the pig upside-down, sticking a butter knife into the coin slot, wiggling the knife till coins were parallel and then moving the bank “just so” to have the coins slide back out.  This was way better than the alternative which was to just break the bank!

Once our banks did end up hitting the ground and shattering into thousands of tiny pieces our banking consisted of a nestles quick box.  I can still remember the smell of chocolate as we opened it up to add coins to the collection.

In our search for the perfect bank, my husband and I opted for the classic pig bank. This particular one had a slight twist on the classic look — a little blingy crown and a pink tutu. My husband kind of wondered about the “ruffly thing” but I assured him a little girl would be impressed with that.  We also wondered about the durability of a ceramic pig.

When our granddaughter opened her present she was pretty impressed.  She touched the little rhinestones in the crown, smoothed the tutu and started lugging that pig everywhere. She also named this pig, “Princess Pig”.

Our fear about the ceramic construction of the bank was soon put to rest. We saw the pig hit the ground  2-3 times and it stayed in one piece. (that was a huge relief!)  My son is convinced it is not your typical ceramic….I think he might be right.

It was also decided by the three year old that Princess Pig needed a little snack. We laughed when we saw she had put a small plastic ear of corn on the plate. Somewhere along the line the genetics of her farmer granddads is pulling through.

It was so much fun to watch her play with that pig. She carried it everywhere she went. It sat by us as we read books. It watched us as we ate supper. The pig even had a small box made into a bed so it would have a place to sleep.

It is a great lesson to learn from a small granddaughter…..something does not have to be big and it does not have to be spendy in order to be enjoyed.  There is joy to be found in the small things. There is a joy to be found in twinkly pink rhinestones and a ruffly tutu on a ceramic pig.  And there is a great sense of joy to be found in watching your grandchildren enjoy those small things.

May your weekend be filled with a child-like sense of joy and wonder.

“See the world through the eyes of your inner child.
The eyes that sparkle in awe and amazement as they see love, magic and mystery in the most ordinary things.”
Henna Sohail