The Persistence of Spring

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The last two days have been absolutely beautiful around here. Yesterday we were close to 70 degrees. I am not quite sure if we made it there or not; but it was wonderful. The sun was bright and shining, the winds blew gently (for Iowa) and the mud on the yard and the road was actually drying.

During the last weeks, I have noticed that the tulips I planted in a pot were starting to come up. One even decided to bloom!  I was rather amazed they actually grew. My mom gave the bulbs to me last fall and I never got them in the ground due to being ill.

I decided to try them in a pot. I had planned to put the pot in the garage so they would be cold but I never did as I was afraid they would freeze…..so that pot just sat in the back hallway biding it’s time. I felt rather like a mother hen watching over that pot as the bulbs started sending up shoots.

I also had Gerber daisies in pots in the house this past winter. My husband took them upstairs last fall and placed them by a south window so I could attempt to keep them alive for this coming summer. If it had not been for my husband constantly reminding me to water them…..those daisies would have been long dead.IMG_5575

Yesterday he went upstairs and hauled them back down for me and put them on the deck. There was something so satisfying about working on those pots. I spent time trimming away the dead crunchy leaves, picking out the dead bugs that seemed to have accumulated through the winter and watering what was left.

I love the fact that under all the dead stuff were brand new fuzzy little leaves just starting to unfurl. It was amazing to me how much life there seemed to be and how ready those plants were to spring back to life. They really are very persistant.

Maybe that is what I love about Spring.  It is persistant. It always comes no matter how long or how hard the Winter has been. Spring is life….spring is the hope of abundance…spring is a promise.

Our lives are much like the seasons. We spend time in winter where it is dark, long, cold and just plain hard.  And then comes Spring in all it’s glory. You hardly dare believe it has actually arrived. If you are like me you are encouraged by the signs of life that Spring brings to the world around us and into our lives.

May today find you overjoyed to be in that Spring of life. May signs of new life be evident around you. May you inhale the fragrance of the promise that is Spring.

Our Lord has written the promise of the resurrection,
not in books alone, but in every leaf in spring-time.
– Martin Luther

 

 

 

 

 

So Many Changes in a Week

IMG_5525 2What a difference a week can make!  Last week at this time we were watching flood waters rise, snow melt at an alarming rate and pumping water away from the house. This morning we sat on the deck in the sunshine and enjoyed the warmth immensely.

Our river is making it’s way back into the banks where it should be, ice bergs are turning dirty and look lonely in the middle of fields. The ice jam on the river has made it’s way downstream and I have a tulip blooming in a pot.

I am reminded of the fact that downstream all is not well and won’t be for a very long time. Nebraska is suffering greatly. Ranchers have lost herds, ground and are overwhelmed. Entire towns have been submerged with ice floes inside buildings where people used to gather. Wells have been compromised so water restrictions are in place in many locations.

Someone was questioning on Facebook how come there were no stories of looting going on in these locations. I have done some thinking about that question; because it is a good one.

I think one of the biggest reasons is that these are real communities. People know who lives next door. They know the guy they buy their groceries from and more than likely know the family of the checker in the grocery line.

People in rural communities are neighbors. They worship together…maybe not at the same church or in the same denomination but they worship together. These people sit side by side and watch their children play at sporting events…many times against each other at these sporting events.

These people in the heartland have worked hard for their place in life and they respect each other and hold each other accountable. It would be hard to steal from someone you have prayed with, laughed with, cried with and know.

These people have that old-fashioned sense of community with a strong emphasis on unity. They don’t always agree….often don’t agree….. but get along anyway. It is family and family has your back.

These Nebraska towns are what American used to be all over this country. They are the best of us and don’t let you off the hook when you have acted your worst. They say it like it is and you know they tell you things because they care. It is honesty….it is integrity….it is unity.

I am in awe of these Midwesterners and hope I can be counted among them. They are a lot to live up to. My mind wanders to how can we help people who are used to giving instead of taking? I am going to try post some links below of places that can be contacted.

HOW TO HELP

Orphan Grain Train, Inc

In NW IA there will be a trailer parked at Livestock Manufacturing and Equipment at the corner of Hwy 18 & 75, (west of Hull, IA) starting Saturday where you can bring supplies such as: Milk Replace, Fencing needs, bottled water, cleaning supplies and so on.

Fremont, NE has been putting out lists of places to go to volunteer and list of supplies needed by communities and individuals.

The Red Cross and Salvation Army are also great places to find out what is needed by way of supplies and/or volunteers. I have a feeling they will be needing things for a long while.

I am trying to also post a video someone made of the damage in Nebraska this past week. I hope it works!  I am not confident in that but we will see.

The lesson I am learning from this past week is that it is good to have neighbors you know. It is good to be that neighbor. It is a blessing to have someone’s back and they have yours.

I have learned quiet people are often underrated. Their courage isn’t noisy…it isn’t loud. Their integrity is the kind that often needs a second look….but when you really see that person…you see someone you want for your neighbor.

Our prayers are with you Nebraska. Our help is on the way and your courage in this devastation will be the quiet roar that shows a nation what America was and still is.

Courage doesn’t always roar,
sometimes it’s the quiet voice at the end of the day whispering
I will try again tomorrow.

Mary Anne Radmacher

Weathering the Storm

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I was pretty excited the other day to hear we were going to get to the 40s this week. Little did I know what the 40s would do to the great amount of snow we had laying around. Add in some rain to that mix and you really have a water event.IMG_5506

Once again, our river is nearly as high as it was last fall! This time it is complete with ice blocking the flow of the river, ice floes in the bottom field and ducks floating blissfully on that same field.

Yesterday my husband spent time digging “canals” crisscrossing our yard in an attempt to get the water away from the house. He spent time doing that and plugging in a sump pump to keep the water out of our basement. I will have to say that Iowa weather is never boring. Personally I am ready for boredom when it comes to weather.

I also had forgotten the mud that would accompany such a fast melt. This is not your basic mud….this is boot-sucking mud. You have to walk very carefully in this mud. If you don’t you will find yourself with a very wet muddy sock and your boot stuck where your foot used to be. It is probably an incredible workout program.

Most of the schools around here are only running their buses on the hard surface roads. I totally get that as our short stretch of mud gravel road is not really negotiable anymore. I will have to say that it does keep things interesting.

With all this water around I am reminded of a verse that says, “When you go through the deep water.” Isaiah 43:2. I am struck by the fact that is says WHEN not IF. It also promises that we will not be swept under. I find that to be a great comfort in every circumstance.

IMG_5508And so I watch the waters rise, I hear the wind howl as the rain changes between snow and rain; as if it cannot decide which season it is, and I slip and slide over a yard of mud, ice and running water.

I hear of communities in Iowa, South Dakota and Nebraska that have taken huge hits with water damage. Dams and bridges washed away, homes flooded with basements collapsing and entire businesses gone. It makes our flooding look fairly minor. There is definitely perspective to all things.

So much of life is perspective. It is good to take a step back and realize we are not alone. In the storms, in the high waters, in the mud and ice….we are not forgotten. We are not in control and for that I am eternally grateful.

May your weekend find you safe and warm. May you keep your head above water and may you find blessing in the floods of life.

 

Sometimes you just need to bow your head,
say a prayer and weather the storm.

Unknown

 

 

White Chip Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Kate’s Awesome Cookies

Years ago my niece shared some amazing cookies with our family. When asked; she willingly gave the recipe. They quickly became a family favorite and I decided I should probably make them again as it had been a long time since I had.

The beginning of this week saw us in the middle of a snowstorm and it seemed a perfect day to bake….so I did!  I usually don’t bake much anymore unless the kids are coming home or company is coming. I have found; when it is just my husband and me, we don’t need that much sweet stuff around.

I was feeling kind of “bakey” (I know it isn’t a word but it should be). I think that feeling was due to the cold weather and the snow. I pulled out the recipe from my niece and found I had all the ingredients on hand. That was a good thing as we were not going to be driving anywhere with the snow flying like it was.

I am going to share the recipe with all of you because it is just to good not too.

Kate’s Awesome Cookies

1 Cup butter flavored Crisco
3/4 Cup white sugar
3/4 Cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 Teaspoons vanilla
2 1/4 Cups flour
1 Teaspoon baking soda
1 Teaspoon salt
1 Bag white chocolate chips (2 cups)

Cream Crisco and sugars
Add the eggs, vanilla, soda, and salt.
Fold in white chocolate chips
Bake at 350º for 8-10 minutes.

Do Not Overbake!
Note: I usually take them out and let them sit just a bit
on the hot cookie sheet then transfer to a wire rack to cool.
These freeze beautifully (If you have any leftover to freeze!)

I had to kind of grin when I typed the line “Do Not Overbake”. I should probably heed that with more things in my life…only translate to Do Not Overthink…..Do Not Second Guess and so on and so on.

I have a great habit of second guessing myself on decisions made. My husband does not understand this….is this perhaps a woman thing or just a me thing? For some reason it can be hard to let past choices go. I am working on that and hopefully making progress!

I have a friend named Brenda H. who made a great observation. She asked a group of us women if we trusted in God or if we trusted God. What a difference one word makes in a sentence! Perhaps trusting Him would make a world of difference in the second guessing category?

May the weekend find you confident in your choices. May you realize that no matter what, God still loves you and there will always be people who will stand behind you…..and may we all learn to trust.

And the next time you find yourself second guessing yourself just say, “Do Not Overbake”! I am going to do the same.

Feed your faith and starve your doubts.
– Kenneth E. Hagin Sr

Faith talks in the language of God.
Doubt talks in the language of man.
– E.W. Kenyon

 

 

 

Life Is Like Shoveling Snow

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Due to snowfalls the last couple days I am, once again, at my winter task of scooping trails to the chicken coop. I also scoop a trail to the little open front shed where the girls like to sit in the sun and take their dust baths.

I can tell I am not getting any younger by the way my back feels while I am scooping! I am also realizing that you might scoop a path once, but that doesn’t mean it is going to stay open.

I scooped those same trails yesterday morning….then it snowed some more. I scooped those paths last night and then it snowed and blew some more. Soooo….this morning I was once again scooping those same trails.

As I was scooping, it occurred to me that this scooping of trails is much like relationships and life. It takes a lot time and a lot of work to keep the pathways open and free of snow/junk. There is a satisfaction in knowing that the work does have it’s rewards….on both counts…snow removal and relationships.

While scooping I looked behind me and realized that my path was not always staying cleared. The “walls” of my path crumbled in places, clods of snow ended up in the middle of my trail and sometimes the scoopful of snow I tossed to the side ended up blowing right back where it came from. Yes…..so much like life.

I decided it was okay to not have a spotless path. I have a feeling that sometimes the “snow clods” in our way help build a little character. I also discovered that once that trail is cleared, you still need to walk carefully.

Yesterday after clearing a way; I fearlessly walked back down that trail to bring feed to the girls. On the way, my foot found a patch of ice hidden under a fluffy layer of snow. I did not face plant or smack to the ground. I did, however, slide gracefully (as gracefully as a 61 year old, overweight woman can slide) to the ground.

There I lay in a snowbank….after assessing if I had damaged anything (I had not) I had to grin. I was grateful my bucket only contained feed and not water! Thinking back I should have probably gone ahead and made a snow angel but the thought did not occur to me at the time.

The main thought that occurred to me was that at my next physical; how was I going to answer the question about falling in the last 3 months? (At a certain age they start to ask you that question!) Do I qualify a “sliding somewhat gracefully to the ground” as falling? Hmmmm, not sure on that one.

I pray you find blessing in the week ahead. I pray you find fulfillment in shoveling and building relationships with family, friends and God. The work is not always easy, there will be pain, you will either slide or smack to the ground at times…but the end result is worth it. It may not be perfect …..but that is okay too. May you find joy in the process.

 

Snow shoveling……
it’s challenging but not impossible.
You have all the skills and the tools you need.
You know you’ll have to work hard,
but in most cases,
heart permitting,
you know you’ll get the job done.
Tom Terez

 

 

Sorting The Bits and Pieces

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I peered into my craft/laundry room today (mainly because I needed to wash some clothing) and decided I needed to start cleaning. This room has been sadly neglected the last while and the craft side was overrun with stuff.

It was hard to know where to start because there was just so much stuff! I decided to try find my counter back….I knew this project was going to take more than one day…..and I was right.

My paper stash was overflowing and that seemed like a great place to start. I had been in the habit of saving every little scrap of card stock because I just might need that small scrap for a card or project.

Today was the day to get a bit vicious with that paper stash. I took my basket and sorted by color and finally got it under control. I decided the small bits and pieces were going to go into a box for future crafts with the grandkids. My grandson seems to enjoy creating things and it might be fun seeing what he will create with that box of stuff.

That box of card stock with it’s bits and pieces and so much color just screams of potential. It is so much like the start of a new day….you just have no idea what the day will turn out to be anymore than I know what wonders will come out of that box.

I love the idea that there is potential…even in those scraps. I love the thought that the “scraps” of our lives can be used to make something beautiful and unique. That box of paper reminds me that we are indeed masterpieces in the making.

May this weekend find you putting together the “scraps” of your life. May those bits and pieces turn into a thing of beauty and blessing. We may not see how those bits can turn into something amazing…but I am assured that they can.

 

In crafting
there are no mistakes….
just unique creations.
Unknown

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD
Jeremiah 29:11a
New International Version