Beginnings or Endings

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The sunsets we have been having lately have been absolutely stunning. They are a mix of purples, blues, pinks…bright turquoise, oranges and yellows. There are times the sky looks like it is on fire.

It is like God is giving us a gift and making the cold days of winter beautiful in His own way. It is a wonderful way to end a day by walking out to put the girls in for the night. It is food for the soul to stand outside in the quiet and watch with awe the display that is dusk.

This time of year there  is a quiet beauty. The greens of growing things are gone, but the dazzling display that is sunset, more than makes up for the loss of greens. The cold of the air doesn’t have the perfume of summer flowers but has it’s own scent that proclaims winter……and it is wonderful.

Sometimes it is difficult to tell where the ending of the day begins or the beginning of the ending starts. The wind dies down, the winter birds grow silent, and the sky becomes tinged with pink.

There is a hush in this space of time between day and night. The air is crisp, as only winter days can be. It is a delight for the senses and I am amazed every time I get to enjoy that time.

So much of life is like that space of time. So many times an ending is just a beginning. Last week I went to my last physical therapy visit!! While that was a definite ending it was, for me, the beginning of knowing that I am, for the most part, better.( I still have to do the balance things at home and check in with them in three months.)

We are in the middle of winter and yet the beginnings of spring are starting to show up. Seed catalogs have started arriving and to me that says warmer days are not far behind. I know there will be some snowstorms yet this season but, somewhere in this time frame is the overlap of living in winter but preparing for Spring.

Maybe this is where hope comes in. The kind of hope that is not just wishful thinking but the hope that is expectation and assurance. There is an expectation that Spring will surely follow Winter. There is the expectation that before that there will be more snow and cold weather.

While we wait for those warmer days let us enjoy the day that is now. Let us realize that the beginnings and endings of things most often are somehow tangled together and it is okay.

May you be blessed with beautiful sunsets that end this day and begin the new one.

 

“The end is never the end.
It’s always the the beginning of something.”

― Kate Lord Brown,
The Perfume Garden

Time

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I cannot believe how quickly time passes. My goal after getting sick was to at least put out one blog post per week. Needless to say I have failed that goal. Strangely….I find I can live with that!

I also cannot believe 2019 is already here. It seems like just yesterday various women family members and I were planning a cruise…that is already almost a year ago. It is hard to imagine all the things that have happened between that planning time and this new year.

We have had the normal ups and downs and then a few abnormal ups and downs. Spring saw the normal planting of fields and then the abnormal flooding that had the river so high that we saw fish swimming over the black top road south of us.

Summer saw us preparing for my son’s wedding and enjoying that. Late summer also saw me having a stay in the hospital which started my journey of recovering from the West Nile Virus. (That is still an ongoing process but I am very much improved!)

Fall saw some more flooding but it didn’t seem as dire as the spring flooding because when the water only kills the weeds that grew from the first flooding it is okay. The upside of the weeds…. we see more pheasants that we have seen in a while.

Winter, so far, appears to be normal. We have had nice days and now we have sub-zero temps at times. I do favor the nice days!

This holiday season we had the great fun of going to grandparents day at our grandchildren’s school and watching them in school and church Christmas programs. What a blessing that was.

This year we celebrated our third grandchild’s first birthday…another wonderful blessing. We gathered, as family, for various things throughout the year and finally this past Saturday I had my entire family under my roof for our Christmas celebration.

It has been an entire year since I had them all under my roof at the same time. It did this mom’s heart a great deal of good to see them all together. I am not sure, but I think God put that longing into a mother’s heart and when it actually happens it waters the soul.

Someone asked what my goal or resolution for the next year was. I know my goal after September was to write a post per week. I have since changed that goal to finding a gratitude moment in every day. I am not sure which goal is the most difficult…but I do know that finding gratitude moments, big or small, will be a blessing in ways I can only imagine.

I pray your 2018 was fulfilling. I pray your 2019 will be even more of a blessing. I have discovered this past year, that neither wealth or health is the key to this fulfillment  or blessing…but being grateful for the big and small things in daily life is that key. May you have gratitude moments in the days of 2019.

“Write it on your heart that everyday is the best day of the year.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Christmas Ornaments

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There is something special about Christmas ornaments. We even heard about Christmas ornaments during the children’s sermon at church this morning. The couple doing the Children’s sermon asked the kids if any of them had angels on their Christmas tree.

A few of the kids raised their hands, some did not. They then went on to explain why angels are on Christmas trees. They explained that angels brought great news of joy that long ago night.20181223_160618.jpg

My husband leaned over with a smirk, and whispered in my ear that our tree had a spaceship ornament…..and he is right. I have no idea if it really is a spaceship. It just kind of resembles something off the movie “Men in Black”. It is an ornament from my husband’s childhood and always finds a place on our tree.

I often wonder if my husband loves that ornament because of childhood memories or if he just thinks it looks kind of funky….maybe it is a bit of both. I love that ornament because it speaks of my husband’s childhood. It is a link to his family history. I also love the fact that it is plastic and therefore durable enough for grandkids to handle!

Strangely…or maybe not so strange that “funky” ornament brings to mind the story of Christmas for me. Maybe it is because it comes back to family. Our family history becomes entwined with the history of that night in a stable.

I think Christmas speaks of beginnings and babies are definitely a new beginning. It speaks of the fact that over 2000 years ago Mary and Joseph became the earthly family of Jesus….Immanuel…God with us. It speaks of promises kept from the beginning of creation. It speaks of faithfulness and the fact that He always provides.

Which brings me back to angels…..all those little kids this morning knew that the angels told of a wonderful thing on that first Christmas. Their faith was confident and sure. May we have the confidence of a child that angels indeed brought the greatest news ever. May we find joy in looking at our ornaments, whether angels or spaceships, and may those ornaments remind us of the reason for this Christmas joy.

“Late on a sleepy, star-spangled night,
those angels peeled back the sky just like you would tear open a sparkling Christmas present.
Then, with light and joy pouring out of heaven like water through a broken dam, they began to shout and sing the message that baby Jesus had been born.
The world had a savior!
The angels called it ‘Good News,’
and it was.”

—Larry Libby

Joy

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Last weekend we had a good taste of winter.  It was the type of weather that had schools getting out early, canceled events, canceled church services and late starts for schools on Monday.

I used to be a fan of that type of weather but that was a long……very long time ago. It was, however, good weather to finally motivate me to put up the Christmas tree and the ornaments. There is something about the wind howling, the snow flying by the window and the fire warmly burning in the woodstove that energizes me to decorate for the holidays.

There is a joy to this season. There is a joy in bringing out the familiar decorations and placing them about the house. So many memories are wrapped up in those decorations. Some are from when our parents were young and they have now ended up on our tree.

Those special ornaments have a way of ending up way near the top of the tree. I figure that way they are safe from the hands of small grandchildren. I am hoping that someday my grandkids will help me decorate the tree. I think that would be a very memorable experience!

I enjoy the decorating; but the joy of this season runs so much deeper than the surface stuff. I love the promise of this season that was given two thousand years ago. I love the fact that, that promise never changes. The Hope that was born at that time has never failed me yet and I trust He never will.

I pray that same joy and hope for all of you. I pray that while you prepare for this season there is a real deep river of joy that runs through your life. There are struggles that will come and go but the promise remains constant.

If this season finds you in the middle of a storm….the wind howling and trouble all around, may you find peace…..may you be blessed and may joy find you.

“Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love.”
Hamilton Wright Mabie  

 

 

 

 

Changes

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When I first started blogging I did a post on an old boxelder tree of ours. Our boys thought it was an eyesore. My husband loved it for the fact that it housed so much wildlife through the years. It was a tree that refused to die and seemed to have confusion over the fact it was a tree rather than a tall bush.

My husband decreed the tree would stay till the dead part fell over. It was up to God when that would occur and he (my husband) would not hasten that day. This past September, the decreed time came to pass. We were sitting on the porch one morning during my recuperation period and suddenly noticed that this event had happened.20181107_164213.jpg

We have no idea exactly what day it happened. We just know that by September 16 the majority of the tree was down. It was a little sad to know that there would be no more squirrels raising families in that tree. Owls, hawks and eagles would no longer perch in the top part of those dead branches.

We will miss those days of watching the animals that used that dead tree. We should probably have counted the varieties of animals that actually used it for a home or just a resting place. Everything from squirrels, woodpeckers of all types, wood ducks, geese, eagles and more have used it.

I have found out this past year that life can change as quickly as a tree falling over. One week you are healthy….the next months you struggle to regain what disappeared in a flash. Families change…..parents make life changing moves to a new residence and it is hard on the entire family. Children get married and it is a wonderful celebration. Life is such a mix.

This year of 2018 is quickly….way too quickly…coming to a close. Looking back, it is hard to believe how many things are not what they were a year ago. Some are better….some are worse. I have a feeling that is just how life is and it is okay.

This Thanksgiving our devotion was on being content in any circumstance. It asked us if we would be content if God said “No” to our prayers….or “Wait”. I would love to answer that I am always content, but that would be a lie. I will say I strive to be content.

There are things I would love to change as quickly as the wind pushes a tree over. I would love to be as I was before West Nile. And then I need to remember how long that tree withstood every storm that came it’s way. It is good to step back and see the blessing in the wait.

The tree was a great lesson on waiting…on contentment. It was in no hurry to fall. While it waited it was useful and in it’s seeming deadness it housed so much life. It is a lesson I can learn. A lesson that there can be a contentment in the wait. A lesson that even though I am not at 100 percent I can still be useful.

Now that our tree is no longer there for those life lessons I am beginning to look around and wonder what part of creation God is going to use next to teach me those life lessons? I have a feeling there will always be something that will be used to teach….as long as I open my eyes.

May you be blessed in the waiting this weekend. May you be content in the changes that life brings.

 

Biblically, waiting is not just something we have to do until we get what we want. Waiting is part of the process of becoming what God wants us to be.     

John Ortberg

 

 

Pictures of Harvest

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There is something exciting about the neighbor stopping by and telling you he is ready to start combining your field. This past week that is exactly what happened and he took out one of the fields of corn. My husband hauled loads to town while the combine kept filling the empty wagons.

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Something about bringing in a harvest is so satisfying. It is like the fulfillment of a promise that was given in the Spring when those kernels of corn were planted in the ground. You watch those fields all summer. You pray for rain and sometimes you pray for dry weather in years like this past growing season.

I was going to say why I like this season…but then I realized I like pretty much all the seasons. Life is such a reflection of those seasons. Everything from raising children to taking care of elderly parents is a season of life. There is something good about each one of those seasons and there are challenges to each of those seasons.

I love the beauty of the painting that is fall. The golds, the russets, the reds make a beautiful picture that fills the senses and satisfies the soul.20181107_164305.jpg

I love the smell of the leaves laying on the ground, the sound of dryers running in the night drying the corn that has just been harvested from the field. I love the vee of the geese as they fly overhead to their winter homes and the taste of hot chocolate on a cool fall evening.

I love the fact that the promise of Spring has been fulfilled by the harvest of fall. It is a reassurance that God is faithful and the promises are real.

May you be blessed in all the seasons of your life. May you be shown the good in each season and see the blessing in the challenges.

“What are you planting today to harvest tomorrow?”
Lailah Gifty Akita

While the earth remaineth,
seedtime and harvest,
and cold and heat,
and summer and winter,
and day and night shall not cease.
Genesis 8:22

 

It’s All About Perspective

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Sunshine!!! We finally saw the sun beaming brightly for most of yesterday. I told my husband I thought it had been 3 weeks since the sun has beaten out the clouds. Those cloudy, gray, rainy days were probably a blessing for my photo-sensitive eyes those weeks…but it was so good to feel the sun.

My husband hauled a lawn chair off the porch and parked it by an old open front shed yesterday afternoon. My girls (also known as chickens for those who aren’t regular readers) are very partial to this shed as it has a dirt floor and provides safety from hawks and eagles who are always looking for a chicken dinner.

We talk every so often about taking the old shed down as our kids think it is an eyesore. We have a different perspective than our children….we see a building (that is probably using that term loosely) that still has function.

That old open front shed provides shelter for the girls, a place for them to dust bath all year long, and is a great place to store my feed as it is not too far from the coop. I think in it’s former life that shed might have been the original chicken coop for people who owned this place years ago. Maybe the girls feel at home for that reason?

So much of life is about perspective. Right now, I tire easily and being dizzy and a lack of balance has become a fact of my life. Going to therapy has become my social life, though I did make it into the grocery store this week!

I know it is a long road to recovery from West Nile but I am choosing to look back and see how far I have come, rather than look at all those therapy appointments that it will take to make a full recovery. I know people always say, don’t look back, but sometimes it is good to do that; just to see the progress made.

I am choosing the perspective of “look how far I’ve come” to keep me heading towards where I want to end up! Like our weather beaten open front shed….there are things I can accomplish right now…in the shape I am in.

Let’s choose, in the coming week, to see the blessing in the rainy gray days, to see the value in an old shed and to be grateful for how far we’ve come and the ability and opportunity to go further.

Our greatest weakness lies in giving up.
The most certain way to succeed
is always to try just one more time.
Thomas A. Edison

Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/thomas_a_edison_149049

 

I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Philippians 4:13 ESV