Friday Blessings

IMG_3711 Red Headed Woodpecker

Red Headed Woodpecker

 

Today was a marvel, weather wise. The last while, we have been sweltering and today, the day just kept getting cooler and cooler. One weatherman thought we should tell people we are in the month of Junuary. I think he might be right!

As I sat on my porch enjoying my cup of tea and breakfast this morning; I even had to wear a coat….that is really unusual for this time of year. I will say it does smell nice and fresh when it is cooler out in the morning.

My husband and I really do enjoy the quiet start to the day. We get to share the outdoors with lots of wildlife. It is so interesting that these animals don’t even seem to pay attention to us as they go about their morning rituals.

We had a wonderful time watching the Red headed woodpecker clinging to the tree in the front yard. I hope he is eating a lot of bugs and ants…..it makes for less bugs and ants that get into my house!

This morning we had a very enterprising little squirrel join us. He was so busy digging up previously buried corn kernels that he did not even care that we were sitting so close and taking pictures of him. I think he felt very sure that we would not meddle in his affairs.

It didn’t take long and a rabbit decided to make his appearance. This was really no surprise as we seem to be overrun with rabbits of every size. The rabbit population is a running argument conversation between me and my husband.

IMG_3707 Cottontail

Cottontail/Bean Eater

 

He thinks we can’t have too many rabbits around…….I think we have waaaay to many to be compatible with my flowers and vegetables.  So far, the rabbits and my husband are winning. (Can you hear the big sigh from where you are?)

I must confess the baby bunnies are cute….but eventually they turn into bean eaters and that is not cute whatsoever! I am hoping my husband commits to doing something this fall about the rabbit population. (He does like rabbit soup, so there is hope.)

Watching these animals this morning was a great reminder of trust and faith. None of these animals worried where their next meal was coming from. They just figured that it would be provided when they went looking.

They do have predators to think about, but it doesn’t seem like they live their lives in fear of what is coming. I sometimes wonder if we spend so much time and energy in fear of what the future will bring, that we find it hard to live in the present.  I think if we could live the way these small critters do……..full of trust and faith; life would be so much easier.

I am sure they have hard times……times where food is scarce, times when they are cold and uncomfortable, and times when they have to run or fly for their lives. And yet, they live and enjoy the moment for what it is. They bask in the sun when it is shining to warm them. They eat their fill when food is present. They live fully in the time they are given.

May your weekend be full of life lived fully. May your life be lived in the present and may you enjoy the small things that can be hard to see. Have a blessed weekend!

Look at the birds of the air;
they do not sow or reap or store away in barns,
and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.
Are you not much more valuable than they?
Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
Matthew 6:26-27

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First Day of Summer

IMG_3676 Red Sky in the Morning..

Today is officially the first day of summer.  It is also the longest day of the year… at least that is what they tell us. We woke up to a sky that looked like it was on fire with the reds and oranges. I attempted to take a picture through the window that had a screen on it as I didn’t feel like standing out in the rain.

Once the rain had quit, I let the girls out of the coop for the day and took my camera with me on a little tour. Everything looked freshly washed……. the grass greener, the sky bluer and the clouds whiter. It smelled wonderful too!

The flowers were beautiful with the raindrops still fresh on their petals. The blossoms of reds, purples and yellows were so vibrant they begged to be photographed and shared.

Even the mud on the driveway had the neatest texture to it and made me stop and pause just to look. There was an odd beauty to it and the stones were wet with the morning rain.

IMG_3683 After the Rain

It was a great start to a day….it was cool and beautiful but the cool was only temporary and transient. Then the day must have realized we were still in Iowa and it was the first day of summer. Once the sun was fully up it quickly became steamy with warm temperatures and lots of humidity. I guess I should not have been surprised.

As the wind blew today it felt like liquid air flowing over my skin. It was thick, heavy and felt like you should be able to reach out and touch it. I have a feeling it is good preparation for the summer days to come.

I am in awe of the variety of weather we have here in the Midwest.( Some weather I like better than others). I am also in awe of the beauty that is there for the seeing. The colors of the sky, the grass, and the flowers.

It is like a love letter from the Father to all of us here on earth. A letter that tells us that we are His. It tells us He loves us enough to create and surround us with beautiful things. It is a letter of faithfulness. And it is a letter of grace.

May you be surrounded by His love letter and may your eyes and heart be open to read it.

Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad;
let the sea resound, and all that is in it.
Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them;
let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.

Psalm 96:11-12

Gardening, Weeds, and Sugar Scrub

IMG_3535 Tomatoes and Weeds

Healthy Tomatoes & Healthy Weeds

It is definitely the gardening season in our part of the country….or should I say it is definitely the weed-growing season? In the heat of our late spring, the weeds have become overly prolific. The sheer volume of those growing, generally worthless things can be a little overwhelming.

I thought I would share the picture of my tomatoes……before weeding. The weeds are still there due to having gotten 1.2 inches of rain in a couple days ago. The rain was great even though it did put a halt to my weeding for a bit. I cannot honestly say I really felt to bad about having to wait to do more weeding!

I knew that those weeds would not disappear if I waited an extra day to get rid of them. It would be nice if there were a weed fairy who just waltzed in overnight and took off with them! Alas she did not, and I spent time hoeing and pulling said weeds this afternoon.

I do have some milkweed plants that I leave grow behind my summer kitchen/garden shed. I figure the monarch butterflies need all the help they can get so I leave a small patch just for them.

IMG_3538 Milkweeds

“Everything has it beauty, but not everyone sees it.”~Unknown

 

I hope to be rewarded with beautiful monarchs floating by on the summer breezes. I remember as a kid there was nothing quite as exciting as a watching the caterpillar turn into a chrysalis and then into a butterfly.

We used to take the branches they hung on and put them in an old aquarium so we could watch them when they emerged. Once they started the process, we carefully put the stick with the chrysalis outside so the butterfly could unfold and dry it’s new wings in the sun. It was one of the best hands on science lessons I have ever witnessed.

I also remember getting the liquidy stuff of the milkweed on our hands as kids. I have no idea what that stuff was but it stained our hands just as much as dandelions did. I have also found that weeding in the garden can be hard on hands and fingernails and leave some serious stains on skin and under fingernails.

This week I made some sugar scrub that should help with getting those stains off my hands and help get the dirt from under my fingernails. I am going to share the recipe with you so you can make some yourself!

Lemon Sugar Scrub.JPG

Lemon Sugar Scrub
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup grapeseed oil
20 drops Lemon Essential Oil
8 ounce glass jar
In a glass or stainless steel bowl, mix all ingredients.
Spoon into glass jar
Top off with more grapeseed oil so mix is not dry.
Use whenever you need for greasy hands, paint-spattered hands and anytime you need
to really scrub them.
This smells wonderful and is a great all natural alternative to other cleansers.
NOTE: you can also use sweet almond oil in place of grapeseed oil.

If all else fails with stained fingernails, you can always go ahead and use some dark fingernail polish to mask those stains. I am not sure how this would go over if you are a guy…but as a female gardener….I find that dark purple works wonderfully!

May you have a wonderful weekend. If you are a dad or grandpa may you have a blessed Father’s Day and enjoy your family. And may all your vegetable gardens and flower beds be weed free….. or at least have weeds that are pretty when they bloom.

 

A good garden may have some weeds.
~Thomas Fuller

 

 

 

Those Summer Nights

IMG_3501 Fencerows

Fence Rows

The last days have been real corkers around here.  The sun has shone brightly, the wind (that ever-lasting Iowa wind) has been blowing steadily and the temperatures are a toasty 90 plus degrees. For us this is really unusual as our normal temps are in the 70s at this time of year.

The wind blowing and no rain has been pretty hard on my garden. I have had to enlist the aid of my husband, haul out the hoses, rig up the sprinkler and water everything. I typically do not water my garden. I usually wait for the rain. This season I couldn’t wait for rain. If I had; I have a feeling my tender seedlings would have just toasted to a crisp.

The constant heat and wind can be draining but there has been one upside to the overly warm days…..the nights. The nights have been cooling off…..so far.( I hear that is going to change this weekend and even the nights will be toasty.)

For now, I am enjoying the beautiful evenings.  There have been beautiful clouds…..big puffy white clouds, gray windy looking clouds, clouds that look like they will finally drop rain and thunderhead clouds.

IMG_3500 the Coming NIght

The Western Sky

I am amazed at the beauty that can be found in the heavens. It is wonderful compensation for the blistering hot days. It is a gift to sit on the porch, a cup of iced tea in hand and just listen to the last calls of the birds, the rustling of the leaves in the wind, and watch the sky turn from royal blue to the deep blues and purples of night.

IMG_3503 Clouds

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Psalm 19:1

 

It is even better to be able to sit on that same porch with someone you love! Quiet, end of day conversations can be some of the best conversations around.

IMG_3506 The West Sky

The Coming of Night

 

There is something magical about sitting outside in the hush of the pre-night hours. There is wonder in watching the moon rise in the darkening sky.

IMG_3509 The East Sky

Day’s End

 

I will try to remember the beautiful evenings that have been and that are still to come. I will try hard to keep them in mind when I am working in my garden mowing the lawn or helping my husband bale grass hay.

It is good to have the anticipation of good things to come. It is sometimes what keeps you going through the everyday stuff of life.

May this weekend find you anticipating the good things. May it find you looking forward to the wonders that are to come and not looking back at the difficulties that have been. May you be blessed, may you find joy and may you have time to enjoy the simple pleasure in life…..like a cold glass of iced tea at the end of a long hot day.

“There’s a sunrise and a sunset every single day,
and they’re absolutely free.
Don’t miss so many of them.”

Jo Walton

“If I can put one touch of rosy sunset into the life of any man or woman,
I shall feel that I have worked with God.”

G.K. Chesterton

Blooms and Blessings

IMG_3390 Blue Flax

Blue Flax

 

I learned a new word the other day…Evanescent…..it came from the dailypost photo challenge. It seems I have heard this word, but never in a sentence where it actually seemed to have a meaning.

I actually looked it up to make sure I would know what it meant….temporary….things that fade away….fleeting. There are so many things that fit into that category.

The blue flax plant I have is a definitely an evanescent plant. Every day it blooms…. profusely….every night the petals all fall to the ground where they lay a carpet of bluish purple petals. The first time I noticed this I was kind of worried that the thing was dying. The next morning it was once again loaded with flowers!

When I looked around my yard at all my flowers  I know I had better enjoy them now….while they are beautiful. Come winter, they will once again disappear for a season. (yes, I know, it seems winter is in the very distant future….but in this part of the country you just know it will be back!) They are seasonal, they are temporary.

Today I am going to share some of my wonderful, beautiful, very temporary flowers with you.  The purple spikes originally came from my Grandma’s flower garden. When she passed away; we all got to take pieces of her perennials. She always called this one Veronica and I cherish them because of where they came from.

IMG_3391 A Perennial from Grandma's Garden

Grandma also used to have Bleeding hearts in her garden. I never did get one of those from her but I found this white one on a clearance rack at a garden center and just couldn’t pass it up. It was so close to dying so many times…but here it is blooming!

IMG_3394 Bleeding Hearts

The fact it lived and is blooming restores my faith in so many things. It seems like a message to never give up, to  give yourself time and you will surely find your way and become something beautiful that will bless others.

I have also been known to scavenge for my perennials. The iris were found growing in a ditch where there used to be a homestead. It seemed too sad to just leave them there with no one to appreciate them any longer.

 

My husband helped me dig some of them out and transfer them to our farm place. Every year I get to enjoy their beautiful blooms.

The hosta was given to me by my mom. She had to split hers as it was getting too big for the space it was in. She asked if I wanted pieces of her different varieties……I have a feeling she knew I would never turn down perennials!

IMG_3404 Hostas

I love the cool green foliage of hostas. I love the fact they flourish in places where other flowers don’t. They do well in the shady, dark places…..places where the sun is dimmed.

There is a lesson in there somewhere. Even when times are less than sunny we can flourish. Even when life seems dry and dark….we can survive. We can not only survive, we can flourish, we can be a blessing to those around us.

So many things, like flowers, are temporary. So much of what we do may seem temporary, like flower blooms, but in reality have far-reaching effects. It is good to remember that we can flourish where we are. It is good to remember that we even when the day seems to be a total loss….the next day we have the chance to bloom again!

Years ago I heard a song by Don Moen called “When It’s All Been Said And Done.” I love the lyrics of this song. It speaks of the temporary and it speaks of the eternal. May you be as blessed by it as I have been.

When it’s all been said and done
There is just one thing that matters
Did I do my best to live for truth?
Did I live my life for you?

When it’s all been said and done
All my treasures will mean nothing
Only what I’ve done for love’s reward
Will stand the test of time

Lord, your mercy is so great
That you look beyond our weakness
And find purest gold in miry clay
Turning sinners into saints.
Hallelujah

And I will always sing your praise
Here on earth and ever after
For you’ve shown me heavens, my true home
When it’s all been said and done
You’re my life when life is gone…

Don Moen

A Day For Remembering

IMG_1969

In small towns all across America, people gathered today to remember those who served in the military and those who gave their lives serving in the military. Bands played, 21 gun salutes were given, speeches made and flags were flying.

As a kid I remember going to the cemetery and seeing the veterans in their uniforms. They made a huge impression as they stood rock still, at attention, guns smartly resting on their shoulders. There was precision in every move they made.

I remember the sound of the breeze through the trees, the slap of palms on the stocks of guns and the sharp report of the guns firing through the quiet of the cemetery. The smell of sulfur from spent shells is a vivid memory.

It was only in later years that I understood what all those little flags meant. It was only in later years that the heartbreak of lives ended too soon, in war, really hit me.

In my trip to Washington DC, last year, I had the opportunity to visit Arlington National Cemetery, as well as many memorials. There is a reverent hush in those places and it is fitting.

It is a hush that invites time for reflection on the lives lost, the sacrifices made and the hardships endured.  It is a hush fit for sacred ground.

IMG_1944

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier- Arlington National Cemetery

IMG_2011

The Three Soldiers-Near Vietnam Wall

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Korean War Memorial

This is a day set aside to honor and remember. Let us not forget to honor those who have made the sacrifices necessary to protect us and others. Let us not forget to thank those who have served, the families of those who have served and also thank those who continue to serve in our nation’s military.

Today I say thank you to my three nephews who are serving at this time……… Sam (82nd Airborne), Kevin (Army), and Justin (Navy).

It is good for me to remember that there is a price to be paid for freedom. It is paid in sacrifice, tears, victories, defeats, despair, pain, sweat and blood. Those paying the price are our brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, dads, moms, children and friends.

It is good to have a day to remember these truths. To remind ourselves that freedom is our heritage . It is something to be protected, defended and not taken for granted. I am grateful to those who make the sacrifice to serve.

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IMG_2036

May we never forget

 

AMERICANS CAME TO LIBERATE, NOT TO CONQUER,
TO RESTORE FREEDOM AND TO END TYRANNY
Coleville cemetery-Carentan, France

There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
John 15:13
New Living Translation

Overcoming Darkness

IMG_3260 A Promise  MLK quote.jpg

I had planned to use today to take up the quote challenge given to me by Whitney Ibe Blog. In light of events in the UK the best I can offer is a quote from a man of peace. A man who saw the problems of the world and offered the best solution.

He offered a message of love and hope in a world adrift in a sea of hate. He offered a way of peace to conquer the violence. He mirrored Christ when the world wanted to mirror hate. His message is timeless.

I know that I am supposed to nominate someone to take up this 6 day quote challenge. I am going to give this a twist instead. I would like to challenge all of us  to post our favorite quotes on kindness, love, conquering hate….basically your favorite quotes on love casting out fear and good conquering evil.

My prayers are with those grieving at this time. My prayers are with those who encourage this violence….may their hearts be opened to love, may their eyes be opened to the truth of life and may their lives be changed by goodness.

Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.
Romans 12:21
New Living Translation