Life as a Puzzle


What does one do on a snow day when you have already read all the books that you have in your home and the library is 10 miles away through horizontal snow? Last week I had this problem. (I did have work I could have done…..and yes, I did do some of it.)

I also chose to start a puzzle. Winter is the perfect time to start a puzzle…at least I think so. And since winter decided to show up again, I thought it was the prime time to get one started. My husband helps occasionally but typically leaves it up to me. The puzzle I am working on is 1000 pieces and is a Thomas Kincaid picture.

When working a puzzle, I tend to start by finding all the outside edge pieces. I wonder if this is typical? I think I would find it impossible to fix if I had to start with one of the center pieces. I like having the edges as a boundary.

There is something about fixing puzzles that makes me think of living life. Life is made up of so many colorful pieces that don’t always seem to go together. When all those pieces are in the box it can look like a mess and a hodgepodge of mismatched bits and a swirl of colors. It is a great help to see the picture on the lid so you know what the finished product should look like and where all those colors fit in.

I have no idea what the finished picture of my life looks like. I just know there are a lot of little pieces that make up my life. I also realize that I haven’t even seen all the pieces that are still to be used to fix my life puzzle. They are somewhere in that box labeled “Chicken Grandma”.

It takes the Master to take those pieces out of the box and slowly begin putting them together. He takes the colors and all those crazy shaped pieces and places them just so in my life to make a beautiful picture of Grace. He makes order and beauty out of a box of pieces that seem so random, but are not really random at all.

I am so glad He has the lid to the puzzle box that is my life and He knows exactly what that life will look like when it has been completed. I only get to see the portions that He has already put together for me.

It is amazing to me when looking at the parts of my life that are already pieced together what a picture of blessing my life really is. Even the pieces that are dark and gloomy looking are just a part of a much bigger beautiful picture, that all speak grace and love.

I am wondering if the puzzle that is our lives actually has those finished edges that I like to start with. Or, do you think maybe our life puzzles just fit and intertwine with the next persons puzzle and their puzzle fits with the next and so on? I kind of hope so. I love the thought that we are all part of a bigger picture that takes all of our pieces to finish.

I love all those pieces that represents the friends and family that are part of my life. You all make my life so much richer and add so much color. And yes some of you add a little craziness and so much fun!  You also add so much blessing. May you be blessed in return.


13 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
Psalm 139:13-16



No Excuses….Just Late


My dad would say this post is “a day late and a dollar short.”  I am not sure about the dollar short, but yes; it sure is a day late!

Blame it on the busyness (only I can’t, because yesterday was a snow day and they are slow). Blame it on the weather (Once again I can’t cause it was a snow day and we couldn’t really do anything outdoors anyway.) Blame it on…….naaaaaaaa, let’s not blame it on anything.

No excuses…..just no post yesterday. And to be honest I really haven’t anything amazing for today either! Once again……oh well….sometimes life is just like that……ho hum. Though sometimes in the ho hum you can find a small gem of truth….if you look hard enough. Yesterday I just did not feel like looking.

Today, I half-way felt like looking and kind of talked myself out of it.  Have you ever done that?    I have, however, been listening to one of my favorite CDs and thought this would be a great time to share one of my favorite songs on the Matt Maher album – Saints and Sinners.

The song is called Firelight and I thought I would not only share the music video but also the lyrics so that you can sing along. I hope this song blesses you as much as it blesses me. It speaks to those arid, desert places that can sometime be a season of life you go through. It speaks to the longing in our hearts to make a difference in this world…..a difference that is eternal.

May you be blessed in the desert, if that is where this weekend finds you. May you be blessed in the lush oasis if that is where you are. And may you be blessed if you find yourself somewhere in between those two….somewhere in the everyday, ho-hum of life.


Dear Jesus where are you tonight
I bear a sadness deep inside
I’m aching for a faith in things I strain to feel
I need to know that you are real

Oh Savior open up my eyes
I wanna see You like a child
There is a haze on the horizons of my heart
Dear Jesus show me where you are

Be my firelight, be my firelight
Burning fierce and bright, be my firelight

How do I move on and be free
From all these things that I have seen
All of my memories are turning into scars
Oh my God put back what’s been torn apart

Be my firelight, be my firelight
Burning fierce and bright, be my firelight

If anyone remembers my name
If I’m ever known for anything
Let it be I ran into the night
Running with a firelight, firelight

Cause I don’t wanna stroll the streets of gold
While there’s still a soul to love
Let me run into the night
Running with a firelight, firelight
Burning with a firelight, firelight

Matt Maher


Let my tongue sing of Your word,
For all Your commandments are righteousness.

Psalm 119:172


A Time of Birds


A Pair of Geese – A Good Match

The last few days have been absolutely glorious. (I do love the word glorious!)  Yesterday it was 70 something degrees and perfect weather for taking a camera and wandering around.

My husband pointed out that we had a pair of geese standing on a sandbar; on the river that flows through our farm. We had been watching the large flocks fly overhead on their way north; so it was a treat to see a pair that had decided take a break on the river.

I am hopeful that this pair, that seems perfectly matched, will decide to take up residence for the season in our area. In the past we have had resident geese and it is so much fun to watch them when they have goslings. I find it to be really neat that geese actually pair up for life. I have no idea how they go about finding their perfect mate. But as they stay together they must be a good match.

Nest in the Plum Thicket.JPG

Nest or Hideout

I finally remembered to take my camera on my walk yesterday. Every time I walked past the plum thicket alongside the road; I loved seeing this nest just waiting in the trees. I cannot wait for spring and summer when, hopefully, a bird will decide to reuse it as a home. If they don’t use it for a home, perhaps they could at least use it for a temporary hideout from a predator of some sort. My husband tells me it probably will not be reused but I am ever hopeful.


The Road Home

As I journeyed my way back home I could hear the sound of thousands of birds singing in the trees along the river. The closer I got, the louder the noise became.  It really made me wonder how many birds it took to make that much noise. I soon discovered how many it does take…..


Red Winged Blackbirds

There were so many Redwing Blackbirds sitting in those tree branches that they looked like leaves. It was an amazing sight when they decided it was time to leave. A rush of wings, the sky dotted with an amazing amount of birds, the air echoing with the cries of all those birds …… and they were gone.

So much of life is like that. Moments that are precious are gone in a rush of wings and a few last cries. I guess it is a reminder to cherish those moments when they are here. Take the time to really enjoy them before they are gone in a blur of passing time. Realize when God has given you a friend, spouse, or family member that is a good match for you and let them know that you love them. Enjoy the journey that is life.

Memories are the key not to the past,
but to the future.
Corrie Ten Boom

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Not All That Glitters…..


It may be true that “Not all that glitters is gold.” I think the reverse is also true….Not all gold is something that glitters. I have no idea if that makes any sense whatsoever… just sounded kind of profound.

I have many things in life that are really pure gold….family and friends being at the top of the list. My daughter-in-law posted the picture of the two grandkids on Facebook the other day. It just made my day to see those two little ones.

They are the real gold in my life. Those two bring such a joy to life. Everything they do is done with everything they have. They really know how to live life to the full and they sparkle from the inside out.

I did have to do some questioning about the Kaboom game after seeing the photo. I first thought they were knocking down the blocks with marshmallows. Turns out those are white painted blocks…..which is a good thing; as I am not sure about the shelf life of a game that would use marshmallows as game pieces.

I digress (which I often do). I also have some amazing friends. One of them truly does glitter! We have often called her the glitter queen. Wherever she goes she has a sparkle about her….literally. I should explain. She is a craft wizard and loves….(did I say loves?) to use glitter. There are times her husband even sparkles. (I am not so sure how impressed he is with the thought of sparkling.)

There is a down side to glitter. Once it gets loose in your home it attaches itself to everything. My daughter-in-law once gave me a Christmas present wrapped in beautiful paper that had glittery snowflakes on it. It did not take long and everything and everyone had a slight sparkle to and on them….maybe more than a slight sparkle. It was actually quite wonderful in a Christmas sparkly kind of way.

My daughter-in-law started to snicker and informed me that the clerk who had sold her the paper explained to her about glitter.  According to him, and I quote, “Glitter is the herpes of the craft world…….once you have it… can never get rid of it.” That is a quote that has firmly planted itself in my brain. It comes to mind every time I see a tube of glitter, a card with glitter or anything sparkly and glitter related. That quote is somewhat like glitter….I don’t think I will ever be able to erase it!

I am so glad that there is so much more to my family and friends than just temporary , external sparkle. They are “Real” and their beauty and worth comes from who they are inside and not what they look like outside. They are beautiful, wonderful people….inside and out.

I pray that you have a friend or family member who sparkles and shines from the inside. I pray this friend or family member spreads a little “internal glitter” over your life and brings you joy. I also pray that you, in turn, spread a little glitter over those around you.


“Consider the fact that maybe…just maybe…
beauty and worth aren’t found in a makeup bottle,
or a salon-fresh hairstyle, or a fabulous outfit.
Maybe our sparkle comes from somewhere deeper inside,
somewhere so pure and authentic and REAL,
it doesn’t need gloss or polish or glitter to shine.”

Mandy Hale, T
he Single Woman: Life, Love, and a Dash of Sass





Lessons From Geese


The past few days have been unusual with our very warm weather. It has been a wonderful reprieve from the cold days that we had in January. The last few days we have even heard flocks of geese as they fly over our farm on their journey north.

It is hard to believe that the geese are already migrating. This is really early for them to be moving that direction again. It makes me wonder how long it will be before they are thinking they may have left those warmer areas a little too fast.

I love the wild sound of those flocks as they fly overhead. It is usually that wild cry that alerts us to their presence. Once you hear it, you start looking up till you finally locate them. Sometimes they are just small groups of a dozen or so. At times they are so large they have several V formations within V formations.

I am amazed at the instinct these birds have in knowing when it is time to hit the migration trail. Year after year, they unfailingly take wing and go when the time is right. Year after year they follow that age-old path to get to the same location as they were the year before.  Against all odds they  manage to make that same trek over and over.

There is a great comfort in the constancy of the geese as they migrate. It is wonderful to know that even though this world may be in an uproar…..the geese still fly when it is time to go.  They do not take their cues from man-made circumstances. They go when it is time….no matter what; because that is what geese were made to do.

There is a lot to be learned from geese I think. They are not swayed by circumstances and opinions. They do not try to be something they are not. They stick together so their journey is easier.  Just think if we were not swayed by the opinions of people who care nothing for us. What would happen if we did not worry about being good enough? What would this world look like if we stuck together and loved each other enough to help each other through this journey called life?

What if…..against all odds….we stayed true to being who God made us to be and we stayed focused on the business that He has given us to do? I cannot speak for anyone else….but I am thinking that would be a mighty fine thing.

May you have a blessed weekend and enjoy the things that God has put in your path . May you find something to marvel at in the days ahead. I pray that someone is placed before you and you are given an opportunity to love, serve and help…… and may your life be filled with simple pleasures like geese flying overhead.

 Morrie Schwartz quotes

A Little Tour


Today the blogging well seems to have run a little dry so you are going to get a short tour of the farm.  The blogging well might be slightly on the dry side but our farmyard definitely is not.  We are enjoying some amazing, unseasonably warm weather around here. I am not going to complain about the temperatures…..but there is a downside.

The downside of these early warm temperatures is that all the snow melts….rapidly. When snow melts that quick and the ground is still frozen, our yard turns into a pond fed by a small creek that winds it’s way  from the field to the west, to our farm yard.

This all sounds delightful and probably would be if we were in the mountains and we were talking about bubbling brooks and clear mountain streams. What this means for us is that our yard becomes a pond which then turns into a mud pit.

Our car is no longer parked in the garage but up the driveway a ways so that we will not have to go “mudding” every time we need to go somewhere. There is an upside to this beautiful weather….there is usually an upside to most situations if you look hard enough.

I find that we can go outside with lighter weight coats on. Gloves are no longer needed to keep your fingers from freezing.  And it is now enjoyable to take a walk down the road as the wind is not howling with a sound like that of a roaring freight train.


My husband pointed out to me that we had an eagle in the bottom field the other day. I headed out, camera in hand to try get a picture of him.  The expectation was high that I would be successful in getting this accomplished.  As I came around the corner of the barn I could see him sitting in the bottom field.  He was quite far away but I managed to get a picture of him before he decided I was too scary for him to stay put. If you look closely at the picture at the top of this post you will see him flying away, heading towards the river.

As I slid my way through the mud (and of course wearing my chicken wellies)  I found much to appreciate.  From the trees that are patiently waiting for their summer clothes, to the girls enjoying themselves with some treat they found in my wheelbarrow…..the farm was a delight.


Even with the mud, this farm not only makes a living for my husband and me… also feeds my heart and soul. It has so many facets to it’s personality. Each season brings a certain beauty that makes me stand in awe.

There are times it is so still that you wonder what will happen when that quietness has passed. There are times when the soil comes to life with the green of corn, beans, and hay fields. The air is fragrant with the life of growing things.

This piece of land is a feast for the senses in every season. There is a connection to this ground even when it has turned to mud. It is much like life. There is promise and there is hope. There is a knowing that God is faithful and Spring is on it’s way. It is a reminder that life is rich and is the accumulation of so many wonderful little things.



“Farming is a profession of hope”
Brian Brett




Valentine’s Day


It has come to my attention that today is the 13th of February. For some reason Valentine’s Day is sneaking up on me this year. I have a feeling there are many reasons that this year, this holiday is kind of going to get lost in the shuffle.

Years ago, when my husband and I were dating (waaaay back) we used to celebrate Valentine’s Day. I am never sure if we celebrated it just because it was the thing to do? Perhaps we didn’t want to be left out?  (As I type those words, it brings to mind my folk’s age-old question, “If everyone else jumped off the cliff would you jump too?”)

If I think back; I don’t remember my husband, even when he was my boyfriend, ever purchasing cut flowers. His mind set was that purchasing “dead” flowers (his opinion of cut flowers)  made no sense….you only enjoyed them for a short time and then tossed them out. (Perhaps this is the farmer in him?  Things should be growing?)

Once we were married he began to purchase live plants and bushes that I could plant in my flower garden. He, rightly, assumed I would have a lot longer to enjoy his gift than I would have with “dead” flowers.  .

It used to bother me that I did not get the cards and flowers that other women received on this holiday. I used to joke that once we were married I thought perhaps all the card and flower shops had burned to the ground.  It took a long time for me to become aware that those cards and flowers were not really my husband’s particular love language.

In all seriousness, his love language is evident in what he does for me rather than what he purchases for me. The way he helps with my projects and encourages me speaks love to me way more than cut flowers ever would. The fact that he “gets” my sense of humor and can laugh with me is something I cherish.

I love it when he invites me to share in his world. Sometimes the invitation involves looking at IH tractors and sometimes it is enjoying a beautiful sunset with him. I am grateful beyond words that God placed this man in my life.

He (and I) are not perfect. There are times we look at each other and kind of wonder what we were thinking those many years ago when we said “I do”.  I suspect all married people wonder that occasionally… least if they are honest they would admit to that. Maybe, just maybe, that is what keeps a marriage interesting.  There is still that element of surprise.

I am not sure what we will do tomorrow, on Valentine’s Day. I think it won’t be too much different than what we do most days. I always wonder what others do to celebrate special days. I wonder if there are more people like us who choose to see the everyday as special because of who you spend it with.

May this Valentine’s Day find you sharing the day with someone you love and who loves you back. May you be blessed with the person and/or people that God has placed in your life. May every day be a special day.

Dear children,
let us not love with words or tongue
but with actions and in truth.
1 John 3:18




Today we had one of those wonderful winter days that don’t resemble winter at all. It was a day that gave a glimpse into the possibility and the eventual coming of spring. Our temps were in the upper forties.

It was a beautiful day for a walk down the gravel road. The weather was so mild, I even took off my coat! Yes, for those of you that live in areas that do not experience winter and it’s subzero temperatures…..this was a balmy day.  It was a day to walk, ponder and enjoy the solitude that is a warm winter day in Iowa.

The ditches were running with small streams of water, fed by melting snow from the fields. The fields look barren and brown at this point; but are ripe with the promise of lush green crops that will be growing in them in a few short months. So much of life is like that. There is always the promise of something better even when things look dead and lifeless.

The girls enjoyed wandering about, picking at seedsforaging
that have been uncovered as the snowbanks have been disappearing. They are ever hopeful in their search for any leftover treats from this past summer.
They are usually rewarded for their diligence in the search for those bits of grass and seeds. They somehow know that I also will give in and toss them some slices of bread just to make them happy.

This beautiful day ended the way it began…..quiet, hushed and with a time of solitude. To stand outside; in the waning daylight is nothing short of magical. The stars start coming out to grace the night sky. There is always the sound of the last quiet rustlings of birds settling in for the night.

The girls in their coop, fuss as they jockey for positions on the roost. Distant sounds filter in on the wind of a train whistling as it makes it’s way through the dimming light. It is a lonely sound and makes me wonder where it is going and what kind of load it has.

I loved standing on my porch tonight. I loved enjoying watching as the day came to a close and night closed in. The moon shone brightly over those brown fields. Fields that are ripe with the promise of the coming Spring…… and life was filled with contentment.

There’s a difference between solitude and loneliness.
Maggie Smith

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True silence is the rest of the mind,
and is to the spirit what sleep is to the body,
nourishment and refreshment.
-William Penn

Nailing Jello to a Tree


Years ago when we were raising our sons I read somewhere that raising children was rather like nailing jello to a tree.  I always thought that was a pretty apt description. This weekend I once again got to experience that feeling with two different groups of kids.

Sunday morning, after church, I filled in for a Sunday school teacher who needed to be gone. I taught (or should I say I attempted to teach) a group of nine first and second graders. If one could bottle the energy in that room it would be truly amazing what could all be powered by it.

I will say it was a tremendous amount of fun. Bribery of candy canes (not the missing ones from previous posts) was incredibly successful in keeping some semblance of control. They seemed fascinated by the story of Jesus and Matthew the tax collector. (It could have been my peanut butter jar of pennies that was fascinating….I am not totally sure.)

The peanut butter jar of pennies was for class participation. Each child was given some pennies prior to lesson time and told to hang on to them. (This had the added benefit of keeping their hands busy.) At a certain point in the story I became Matthew and collected their pennies. (The pennies were also returned at the end of class time as they had been attentive.) I recognize that some will not appreciate using bribery….but, at times, bribery will get you everywhere.

My other endeavor was being the “craft” lady for the 7th grade GEMS that met this Monday night. GEMS is kind of Christian Reformed Girls Scouts. They earn badges, do crafts, have Bible lessons etc. I was asked to help with the 7th graders as the craft was going to be making cards.

It had been a long time since I had been in the company of 7th grade girls.(And it has been even longer since I have been a 7th grade girl!)  I had kind of forgotten how giggly that age can be. After raising boys, this was an entirely different perspective. Never once have my sons “giggled”. They have guffawed, belly-laughed, snorked as they laughed but…..never ever giggled.

The card making went fairly well. Most of the trash ended up in the trash bin and most of the ink was stamped on the cards.  Everyone went home with three completed cards so I feel we were quite successful. For the cards; I basically went through my paper stash and used what I had on hand. The stamps used were all from Stampin Up as were the punches.

It would be kind of entertaining to know what perspective both of these groups had about “that lady” who came to class. Then again…..perhaps I don’t want to know! I have a feeling that the women who regularly teach these classes stay young at heart from dealing with those that are actually young.

I do admire those teachers. It takes a tremendous amount of commitment to teach and give your best to train kids. I have done the Sunday School job and it is not always easy. While it is not always easy……  it is always rewarding.


“We must teach our children to dream with their eyes open.”
Harry Edwards

“There’s nothing more contagious than the laughter of young children; it doesn’t even have to matter what they’re laughing about.”
Criss Jami, Killosophy



Dishcloths and Memories

Knitted Dishcloth.JPG

One of my first posts I ever wrote; spoke of my yarn stash and how I was trying to use it up. I have been somewhat successful in that endeavor. I say somewhat because it never seems to totally disappear. It might be a little like the story of the widow’s oil in the Bible.

I should confess that it probably never disappears because I tend to keep purchasing yarn here and there for various projects. It never fails that you always end up with some extra from any project you do. At least I end up with some extra each time.

When I ventured over to the stash and looked through it I found some Sugar ‘n Cream cotton yarn. I thought I should probably turn it into a couple dishcloths as mine are getting pretty tacky.

Years ago, my Grandma made dishcloths and taught me how. I never knew what a YO (yarn over) was until she showed me.  I even have her pattern, in her handwriting, on a 3 x 5 index card. It is very special, at least to me, to be knitting a dishcloth from that pattern. Her spidery handwriting brings back more memories than just dishcloths.

In looking back she taught me way more than just how to make dishcloths. She taught me that there is a satisfaction in making something with your own hands that can be used in your home. She taught me that even things like dishcloths can be beautiful and colorful.

I can still see her sitting in her kitchen, on her chair with the wheels on it. (I personally thought that was pretty neat as our dining room chairs did not have wheels!) She would be hunched over the table, reading a pattern, a pile of yarn in front of her and a bowl, in the middle of her table with a single rose floating in it.

When she saw you come in the door she always made sure you sat down for a visit (at the table) and were served a piece of cake, cookie, banana bread or some new muffin she had tried. I learned at her kitchen table that a person could visit, eat lunch, and knit at the same time!

Grandma shared easily and so in the spirit of my Grandma I would like to share the dishcloth pattern with you. These are not too difficult to make if you can knit and do the YO thing.

They are a great project to take along when you travel; as they don’t use a lot of yarn or take up half your car with needles and balls of yarn. It is a pattern that works up quickly and is not overwhelming.

I also love how these clean my dishes. They have a slightly “bumpy” texture to them, which works great for scrubbing. I have also discovered that if they become stained or tacky looking; they make wonderful cloths for scrubbing the floor.

Knitted Dish Cloth
Sugar ‘n Cream or other cotton yarn
Size 10 knitting needles

Cast on 4 stitches
*K2, YO, K to end
Repeat from * until you have 45 stitches on the needle.

**K1, K2 tog, YO, K2 tog, K to end
Repeat from ** until you have 4 stitches on needle.

Bind off.
Weave in loose ends
K = knit, K2tog = knit 2 stitches together, YO = yarn over
NOTE: Grandma always made them with 45 stitches.
I tend to knit looser than she did so I do 40 stitches.

I hope you have as much fun making these as I do. I also hope you find them as useful and pretty as I do. If you do give these a try….let me know how they turn out for you.

In looking for a quote to go with this post I ran across a bunch of them by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. They are so funny …..perhaps because so many of them are so true!

“Achieving the state of SABLE is not,
as many people who live with these knitters believe,
a reason to stop buying yarn,
but for the knitter it is an indication to write a will,
bequeathing the stash to an appropriate heir.”

Stephanie Pearl-McPhee,
At Knit’s End: Meditations for Women Who Knit Too Much
“SABLE- A common knitting acronym that stands for Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy.”
Stephanie Pearl-McPhee,
At Knit’s End: Meditations for Women Who Knit Too Much