Blankets and Blessings

Sweet Dreams Baby Blanket.JPG

A couple months ago my husband and I got the news that we were going to be grandparents again!!!  Our youngest son and his wife told us they were expecting some time in September.

We were also instructed not to tell anyone at that time as they were waiting to tell their grandparents first. I will have to be honest and tell you that waiting those weeks to tell anyone was extremely hard! (Maybe it is a woman thing….my husband didn’t seem to have a problem at all!)

I needed something to take my mind off my need to keep my mouth shut so I started crocheting a baby blanket. The pattern I used was one I found years ago in a book at a local library. I have no idea what the name of the book is anymore but I know the blanket was called Sweet Dreams.

I love the lacy look of this blanket and when using the soft Caron yarn it is a great baby blanket. I also modified it a bit as the pattern ends up making a rectangular blanket and I wanted a square one.

I am very sure the newest addition to the family will not care one way or another what size or shape that blanket is…….but I do! I kept the baby blankets in my cedar chest that were used for my son’s baptisms. I treasured those blankets….not for the fabric in them but for the babies that were wrapped up in them.

When our first grandchild was born I gave his parents the blankets that his dad had used. There is something to be said for passing things on. There is something wonderful about seeing your grandchild wrapped in the same blanket that his father was. Maybe it is just a mom thing or a grandma thing…..I am not sure….but I thought it was wonderful.

Passing those blankets on spoke of legacy to me. They spoke of the love that had been wrapped in them and continues on to this day. I am always slightly surprised when I realize how many years have passed since those blankets have had a baby wrapped in them.  Maybe I am surprised because I then also confront the age that I am now!

I love the fact that wrapping new grandbabies in those blankets seems to give us a do-over. We get that chance to have those conversations with the little ones that we didn’t seem to have time for when our kids were young.

It gives us a chance to take time to marvel at ants crawling on the ground as we hunker down with a child to watch. We get to feel the smoothness of stones on the gravel road and to find the adventure in the big and small things in life.

As a grandparent we have more time to enjoy those times. We have to say “No” less often and have more time to answer the “Why?” questions.  As a grandparent we are given the gift of time to really enjoy seeing life through the eyes of a child.

It is a blessing to have grandchildren. It is a blessing to see your family grow. May you have a blessed weekend. If you don’t have children or grandchildren I pray you have a child you can borrow so you may have the blessing of seeing life through the eyes of a child.

“The simplest toy,
one which even the youngest child can operate,
is called a grandparent.”

Sam Levenson

My life is blessed; I have held my children’s children.
Jeremy Taylor

 

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Wanderings

IMG_4255 The Black Hills, SD

“Trees are poems that the earth writes upon the sky.”
Kahlil Gibran, Sand and Foam

Today was one of those odd days where it seems like you are busy, but when you look back at the day you realize you haven’t really got much to show for it. I did get the dishes done. We did get to town and get some groceries. It just felt like we worked so much harder than that!

It has been rainy, gray and drippy here the last few days. Maybe that is why everything seems like it is harder and takes longer to do. It might just be a whole mental attitude thing.

I was at a loss as to what to post today so I went on over to the dailypost to check out the  prompts. It is always a helpful place to give you some ideas to get your brain working. The words for the last couple days were gray and roots. This did make me laugh out loud as my first thought was of my own hair!  Only…..mine is gray on a lot more of my head than just the roots.

After thinking on those words awhile I knew that in my digital files of photos I had some pretty cool pictures of tree roots. I am going to share a few of my favorites with you. They were taken on various vacations through the past years.

The tree pictured at the beginning of this post was photographed on a family vacation years ago to the Black Hills in South Dakota. (My husband’s favorite place!) The roots on that tree were so amazing to me. They just seemed to snake around the rocks and hang on. Eventually the tree died but those roots spoke of such determination to anchor themselves firmly into something solid.

It kind of reminded me of a song we used to sing in Sunday School about the wise man building his house upon the rock….when the rains and winds came…his house stood firm. I suspect that tree stood pretty firm through many storms.

IMG_6912 Lake Thompson, SD

This picture was taken at Lake Thompson, South Dakota. I just could not pass up taking a picture of this huge ball of roots. It made me wonder what it actually took to bring that tree down! Even in it’s present state there is such a rugged beauty to it.  The roots have been worn smooth by the rain and bleached by the sun. It may no longer function as a living tree but I have a feeling that it is probably used by many people as a place to sit and rest. It has been repurposed and made beautiful again by time.

This grouping of three pictures, are probably some of my all time favorites. They were taken at Gooseberry Falls, Minnesota. Just seeing these pictures gives me a wanderlust to go back and wade in the cool waters of the falls, marvel at the twisted trees that are still alive and feel the texture of the lichen covered rocks that line the stream.

It is the perfect place…..running water, sparkling waterfalls, gnarly trees, multi-colored rocks and pebbles, and there is always a refreshing breeze on a hot summer day. It is a joy to watch the little kids (and the old kids) splashing in the water and just enjoying being outdoors.

I am starting to think that if tomorrow is also a rainy day it might be time to get out the well-worn Rand McNally atlas and do some vacation dreaming! I have found that sometimes the dreaming is over half the fun.

Perhaps just planning a vacation and dreaming on one can be like taking a vacation and never leaving home. Perhaps the slow pace of our “gray, drippy” day was a mini-vacation of sorts. I may need to rethink vacations in general.

Vacation memories can be like those tree roots that are sunk deep into rock……those memories are firmly and solidly rooted in shared experiences with family and friends….shared joys, laughter and fun……..and that is a blessed, wonderous thing.

The richness of life lies in memories we have forgotten.
Cesare Pavese

Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/c/cesarepave400608.html

 

 

 

Spring Contentment

First Violets of the SeasonWe may pass violets looking for roses.
We may pass contentment looking for victory.
– Bern Williams

The recent rains and warm sunny days have contributed to our lawn growing into a shaggy green carpet these last days. I am an avid supporter of keeping the lawn mowed and looking somewhat groomed.

I must admit to being a little obsessed when it comes to my mowing technique.  I tend to do the thing where I mow in a different direction each time I mow. This offers me four directions to choose from. I also like a rotation for those four choices.

My husband, on the other hand, is of the thought process…..just zip it off and you’re good. (This should not surprise me as he has the same idea when it comes to haircuts.)  He doesn’t bag the grass or rotate directions. I am grateful he does mow though!  We have a large farmyard and have not owned a riding lawn mower for the last 20 years or so.

We decided years ago that instead of a walking exercise program in the summer we would have a “push the lawn mower” exercise program. It is definitely a workout as our push mower is also NOT self-propelled.

The first of the season mowing always seems to take the longest. There are sticks to be picked up, rabbit holes to be checked for baby bunnies, and it takes so much longer avoiding plants that are just beginning to peep through the soil. It could be that my eyes are just getting older and it is harder to see all those things…..it could be that….but then again….it could just be the time of year.

I was so glad to see the little patches of wild violets were starting to bloom. I was also glad to see that they were so short the lawn mower just skimmed over them. They might be a weed in my lawn; but they are so bright and cheerful as they peep up at me as they nestle in their leaves.

It was exciting to see the hostas are beginning to push up through the soil, the peonies have sent up tall burgundy colored shoots and the bleeding heart I planted last year, survived and even has a few blooms on it already!

 

I started writing this post about our first lawn mowing of this season. As I started wandering around taking pictures today….my focus kind of changed and evolved into more than lawn mowing. Have you ever had that? You start out in one direction and you kind of make this detour……maybe several detours…… all over the place?

I went outside to get those pictures for this post and saw my husband disking up last year’s corn stalks in the bottom field. We have rain in the forecast for the next few days so it is time to get going on things like lawn mowing and field work.

I love the view that we have of the field with the river in the background. I have a feeling I had time to enjoy that more today than my husband did. I am pretty sure he was focusing on his work, while I was focusing on watching him work!

I also noticed that the tree that refuses to die has once again sent out new leaves from some of it’s branches. I used to give my husband grief about how ugly the tree was and how it should be taken down……but I have since changed my opinion.

The Tree Still Lives.....Sort Of

I have come to the conclusion that any tree that works that hard at keeping somewhat alive should be allowed to fall over in it’s own time. The tree also serves as a roost for owls, hawks, wood ducks, eagles, geese (I have no idea why a goose would sit in a tree … but they do),  and it also serves as a home for our squirrels.  I guess it earns it’s way, not by how beautiful it is, but by how functional it still is.

There is something to be learned from that tree. Never give up. No matter what you look like…..God can use you. No matter how battered, there is still a beauty if you are willing to see. I have come to appreciate that tree as much as the flowers and plants that come back each spring…..maybe more as the lessons it teaches me are so timeless.

There is a certain harmony, a certain rightness to the tree coming back to life each spring. Just as the violets and grass returning each spring; the tree stands as a witness to faithfulness and new beginnings.

 

“There is something very special about Spring.
Almost Spiritual.
Not a surprise that Easter coincides with the season……”
George
https://theoffkeyoflife.com/about/

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrating Creation

IMG_6542 Island Park.JPG

If it weren’t for the rocks in its bed, the stream would have no song.
Carl Perkins

Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/c/carlperkin183313.html?src=t_stream

Everywhere I look I see the proclamation that Earth Day is coming soon. I thought I should google it (cause that is what I do when I want to find out something) and learned it is coming this Saturday, April 22!

I started looking through some photos and found some that I really like, that speak the beauty of God’s creation to me. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. Half of the fun of looking through old photos you have taken is all the memories that come back with those pictures.

I was first going to use photos that I had taken on vacations and then I decided I should find the ones, that I love, that showcase the beauty that is in the area where I live.

Flowers are something I love and these yellow flowers were a perennial given to me as a small “start” by a friend, many years ago. Their spikes with the yellow blooms are wonderfully cheerful in my flower garden.

“Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. Luke 12:27

I also love to take photos of flowers…..though they are never as pretty as the actual thing.

All the seasons in our area have a different type of beauty. Winter can be cold and bleak around here, but there is a pristine, quietness about the landscape when it snows and freezes. There is a stillness that lends itself to a time of ponderings and dreams.

IMG_1167 Winter along the Little Rock

“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.”

[Meditations Divine and Moral]”
Anne Bradstreet, The Works of Anne Bradstreet   

There is also a beauty when the leaves are turning yellow and orange. The air has a certain smell of fading leaves, the faint hint of wood smoke from campfires and dirt as farmers get the crops out of the fields. It is busy…but it brings a satisfaction of preparing for the cold of the coming months.

The Pit.JPG

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”
Albert Camus

At the end of the day. there are times when the moon is full and you can just sit on the porch and enjoy the quiet of the night time while that perfect ball shines down on you. Coyotes howl in the distance, birds rustle in the trees, and the world has settled down for a little rest.

Moon over the barn

Like the moon it shall be established forever, a faithful witness in the skies.” Selah
Psalm 89:37

 

Life can be so good! God is so faithful and I am so grateful. May you have time to ponder this coming weekend. I hope you have time to stop and look around at the beauty that is in your own backyard. And may you find rest and hope in the beauty the Creator has given. Enjoy the blessing.

“There are some places so beautiful
they can make a grown man break down and weep.”

Edward Abbey, The Monkey Wrench Gang   

 

 

Raspberries!

Surviving Raspberries.JPG

Last fall I was given the opportunity to get free raspberry plants from a gal in our church. So I took my spade, 5 gallon buckets and headed over to her place to dig some out. They had a huge patch that they wanted to get rid of as she said they just didn’t use them anymore.

As I wouldn’t know a sugarplum (reference to “Twas The Night Before Christmas” for those who are wondering.) if I fell over one……the visions dancing in my head were of raspberry jam, raspberry smoothies, raspberries on ice cream……..yeah raspberries for many things!

I dug up quite a few canes that afternoon and headed home with my prize.  I put them in a bucket of water like google told me to do; and then my husband spaded up 2 areas for me to plant them. (Out logic was maybe one place they would grow better than the other.) We put them in the ground, put fencing around them to keep out rabbits and watered them some more.

The canes didn’t do anything last year as we put them in quite late in the season. This year when we went to check on them after the snow had melted; we were jolted by the discovery that the rabbits had indeed found them. They had not only found them; they had chewed the canes down to nubs in several places.

I was certain there would be no raspberries coming to my freezer from these plants, no jars of jam and no raspberries on ice cream.  It made me kind of cranky at those rabbits……..actually, it made me real cranky at those rabbits.  You would think, living by the river like we do, there would be plenty for them to chew on without sampling my new raspberry canes!

Just the other day my husband came to the house and told me he thought some of the canes were alive. So we headed out to the two areas where we had planted them and Surprise!!!!! there are canes with leaves on them!  I was so excited to see that some had survived the late planting, winter season and pillaging by renegade rabbits.

I am always amazed at the tenacity of plants. It seems they can hang on through anything. They may be slightly (or a lot) battered by storms and/or pests (yes, I mean rabbits…sorry to my rabbit-loving husband) but a lot of them always seem to pull through and thrive.  There might be a life lesson in there somewhere…..hang on through the storms….better times are coming.

We also got our potatoes in the ground today so I am feeling really fulfilled. We usually try get them in sometime during the Good Friday/Easter weekend. We usually plant the Yukon Gold as we have found them to be very good keepers through the winter and we love the flavor of them when made into mashed potatoes.

Spring is such a great time of rebirth and the greening up of plants. I love the feeling that the earth is coming back to life. I realize that life has always been there, just quietly waiting to be warmed back to life after the cold winter. It brings such hope for those warm summer days, fruitful gardens and full pantries in the fall.

May you have a chance to dig in the dirt, experience the green grass under your feet and enjoy all the “surprise” plants that come back to bless you. May you find hope in the rebirth that is spring and may you be as tenacious as transplants.

“I believe in process.
I believe in four seasons.
I believe that winter’s tough, but spring’s coming.
I believe that there’s a growing season.
And I think that you realize that in life, you grow.
You get better.”
–Steve Southerland


 

Reflection on Good Friday – Revisited

Pretty Crosses
Over the years I have accumulated some “pretty” crosses. I gathered some of them up today to take a look at them. And yes, once again, I thought they were very pretty and very decorative.

I have a friend who sends them to me every so often. She knows I like them. I think I like them because they remind me of her and they remind me of Grace. As I was looking at them I wondered if I also liked them because they were a picture of a neat and tidy Grace?

They are beautiful and there is no hint of the brutality that took place on that rough wooden cross so many centuries ago. There was nothing beautiful or tidy about that cross. It was ugly, harsh and had blood dripping down it. I don’t think my pretty crosses really show the full measure of the sacrifice made for us that day.

The only beautiful thing about it was the absolutely pure love of the one they nailed to it. His selfless act, His love of us “while we were yet sinners” (Romans 5:8) amazes me, humbles me and calls for some type of response from me.

Last year I had just started blogging not too long before Good Friday. I am going to repost my blog from that day. After rereading it, I wanted to re-share it. I know some of you are going through hard places in your lives at this time and I pray it brings you hope in the promise that is the cross. The promise of the One who hung on that cross and was Hope made flesh.

The Chicken Grandma

Artwork by Joseph Kroese

Even as a kid I wondered why they called this day Good Friday.  In looking at the cross it never seemed like a good thing.  Reflecting on good things makes me realize that many things in life do not, on the surface or while in the midst of them, seem like good things.

I am pretty sure everyone can look at their life and the hard, dark places that come with living and wonder where that good part is hiding.  Sometimes you have to look pretty hard to find even a slight glimmer of the good.  This is true, especially when you are in the middle of a hard place.  There are some hard things that you may not see that shimmer of light for several years and some maybe never while on this earth.  I am guessing that is where faith comes in and the hope of things unseen. (my slightly garbled…

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Contentment

April Moon

Last night on my way home from Bible Study the moon was as pretty as I have ever seen it. It was big and orange and just seemed to hang in the air. My husband and I spent some time sitting in the cold night air just looking and enjoying the beauty of it.

Relaxing and sitting on the porch last night was a great introduction into the type of day we would have today. Calm, quiet and a rare Iowa day where the wind doesn’t try pick you up and blow you away. The weatherman told us last night that we were supposed to be drizzly and rainy today.

When I woke up this morning I believed him as our world was bathed in a soft haze that seemed to promise that drizzly weather. I decided to take my walk early today due to that forecast. (I don’t have a great fondness for walking in the rain on a gravel road…the gravel tends to stick to your shoes, kick back up on your pants and invite itself into my house.)

As I walked it was wonderfully quiet out this morning. In the background there were distant sounds of truck and cars on the highway a couple miles away. The soft haze that bathed the landscape seemed to muffle most of the man made sounds. It pleased me no end, the way it wrapped itself around me as I walked.

There is a spot, a ways down the road where you can stand and look for miles in any direction. It was beautiful this morning in the way an old photo is beautiful with those warm sepia tones. The world rather resembled those old photographs this morning. I didn’t have my camera along, but I doubt I would have been able to capture the feeling the view gave.

The fields are still shades of brown, beige, and tan. Here and there are fields, green with a winter cover crop, but those are few and far between. I strolled past a neighbor’s field that he had seeded to oats this past week. It was wonderful to smell the freshly turned earth. I also smelled the whiff of hog buildings…but yes, this is Iowa.  Fortunately that smell was also faint this morning!

The haze softened all the edges of the landscape. The farm places that dot our landscape were softened and muted by the mist that hung heavy over the fields and farms. It seemed to take away all the sharp edges.

It even took away the sharp edges of life. The world seemed a softer, kinder place. The pace seemed slower in the hazy mist and gave off a feeling of contentment. It was a great time to just stand, look around and reflect on the beauty that was there…..if you only opened your eyes to it.

I slowed my pace on my way back home so I could revel in that feeling of contentment. It was such a gift, a blessing that seemed to be made just for me. In a world that sometimes seems to unravel, there is beauty wherever you look for it.

Sometimes it is good to slow down and find the beauty in an orange moon on a chilly night. It is good to find the beauty in a hazy day where the world seems smaller and the mist seems to wrap itself around you like a warm blanket. It is good to see the gift and the blessing that is ours……if we open our eyes.

“Be content with what you have;
rejoice in the way things are.
When you realize there is nothing lacking,
the whole world belongs to you.”
Lao Tzu