Holding Fast

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The days may be hot, but my husband and I are preparing for the cold days to come. We have been spending our mornings splitting the wood that he cut late last fall.

My job in this endeavor is not too tough. I get to just sit on my chair; and push and pull the lever that runs the wood splitter. My husband has the much harder job of lifting each log and placing it in the “cradle” to be split.

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Some of those logs are not too big but others are pretty large, heavy and cumbersome. It does not help that the weather has been pretty toasty and very humid. I have discovered that each one of those logs is different.

Some are nice and round and split like a dream. Others are kind of gnarly. Some look fine on the outside; but once the maul starts splitting through them, you discover the remains of a branch that the tree had at one time. The maul kind of has to groan it’s way through those logs.

The fact that I get to sit and push/pull that lever gives me ample time to think about things and life in general. I kind of pondered on the fact of how tightly those branches were fixed in that log. They do not let go of their hold on the log without a fight.

My mind wandered over to what it means to be firmly rooted and I am pretty sure I was given a visual image of that with those logs. I was also amazed how deep inside the tree those branches start. They were right at the heart of the tree. There is something profound about that fact.

I kind of wonder if we all need to be like those branches…. firmly rooted to something solid…something that does not shift with the whims of political climate or opinions.

May we be branches that start near the heart of the Creator and let us hold fast to that place. Let us put up a fight when something tries to tear us from that Tree. The world may shift and the world may change, but the heart of the Creator remains the same…..and I am eternally grateful.


Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm,
for God can be trusted to keep his promise.
Hebrews 10:23 NLT

Lessons from Caterpillars and Geese

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A Butterfly in the Making

The other day my husband asked if I was busy. I was, but when he has something he wants to show me it is usually pretty good. I put my boots on, as I was not sure where we would be heading.

We headed for the river, which is not that far from our house. He had spotted some milkweeds that morning and discovered there were three monarch caterpillars on them.

That might not seem like a big deal to some people; but for us it was. We have noticed there are not as many monarch butterflies around as there used to be and spotting those caterpillars just made our day.

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A family of Canadian geese

As we were standing there watching them hungrily devour the milkweed leaves I glanced at the opposite shore of the river. There was an entire family of Canadian Geese quietly floating along the bank.

We were not sure if it was mom or dad at the front but they were at each end of their brood of goslings. I headed back to the house to grab the camera so I could snap some pictures of both wonderful things.

It was so much fun to stand and watch the display of wildlife in that small area. It was a marvel to know those caterpillars would end up as a chrysalis and be beautiful butterflies this summer.

It was something to see the care that the parents of those gosling were taking with their young. They were so graceful as they glided along the riverbank to hide under an overhanging tree.

I often wonder if God knew we would need these things in nature to ground us and leave us standing in wonder at how it all works. It takes us back to the basic things…the wonder of being a child and seeing new life around us.

The metamorphisis of catepillars into butterflies let’s us know that just because we are in a certain spot in this life….it might not always be this way. Things that seem ordinary can turn into something beautiful.

Seeing that family of geese reminds me how much we are cared for by the Creator of this world. If He cares enough to give such good parents to those goslings…how much more He cares for us!

I love finding the lesson that is waiting for us just outside our doors and windows. I love seeing how our life seems to reflect what is happening in creation. Let’s spend the rest of this week opening our eyes and our hearts to the lessons around us.

In every walk with nature
one receives far more than he seeks.
John Muir

Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/john_muir_108391

 

 

The Farmer

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Last week, one day,  I was sitting on the porch, drinking my morning tea, watching my husband till the bottom field. It was a beautiful morning….sunny, warm  and to early for the pesky gnats to be out.

As I was sitting there, in the quiet of the morning, with only the tractor humming in the distance; I had time to sit and think.

There is a beauty to the tilling of the earth. The debris left from last years’ harvest is disked under to become food for the next harvest. Black dirt is made ready for the seeds that will be planted and then grow to produce an abundant harvest.

Our lives are much like that pattern of the seasons. There are times when they look messy, dirty and unkempt. “Stuff” just lays there…seeming useless and ugly. “Stuff” just looks to be worthless and spent.

One day the Farmer decides it is time to till the field of our lives. He tills and rips through our mess…sometimes painfully tills. Our lives are transformed into beautiful productive fields…ready to accept the seeds of goodness and faithfulness.

We may not always be grateful…at least I am not, at the time when the mess is being cleaned up and ripped through. Looking back, it does make sense to turn things upside down to get to the beauty within.  It makes us who we are….it makes us productive and ready to be used.

I am so grateful the Farmer doesn’t leave me as I am. I am grateful He loves me enough to dig through the mess because He sees what lies underneath. He sees the possible…the potential…the worth.

If life finds you in the mess of what has gone before…take heart. The Farmer will not leave you there. If you are willing He will dig to get to the beauty that is within.

If life finds you in the middle of a rainy season, a drought, or some place you don’t want to be…give it time. The sunny days will be back, the warm breeze will be soft on your skin and there will be time to sit and enjoy the reality of where you are.

“Sometimes it is hard
to give up the dream,
for the better reality
that God has in store.”
Faye aka Chicken Grandma

 

Reclaimed Treasures

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This past week was wonderful. We had a few days that were absolutely perfect, weather wise. It was dry and sunny with a light breeze and it was glorious.

I took advantage of those days and spent as much time outside as I could. The lawn got mowed. (Which is more work than it sounds; as we use a push mower for our farm….and it is not self-propelled.) I got a few more things planted in my garden and I had a great time potting herbs. I planted chives, rosemary, mint, thyme and have one pot just waiting for sage.

The pots I used were saved from the junk pile of my in-laws several years ago. They were the pots we all bought in the 80’s that came from Mexico. A couple were slightly charred and one is pretty rugged looking. (I told my husband it had character.) I had some fun-colored spray paint on hand; and set about sprucing them up a bit.

It is always amazing to me what a bit of paint can do for things. It does not completely cover the flaws and that is okay. It does renew those items and I am also good with that!

I have a feeling we are a bit like those pots…at least I am. We might be a wee bit worn or a lot worn. We might have dents and dings, scratches and scars and other flaws but with a bit of paint, also known as love, we are made beautiful again.

It is wonderful to know that with time and love, we are renewed…not like brand new but we are reclaimed. Our lives are still flawed; but they are beautiful and have purpose. It is also good to remember that perhaps we can help in the restoring of someone else.

Like my pots, let’s look for the beauty that may not be readily in view. Let’s allow things to get “messy”….because restoration is messy and takes time….but the end result is worth it. Let’s see the blessing in the cleaning, the painting and planting that makes us reclaimed treasures.

People, even more than things, have to be restored,
renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed;
never throw out anyone.
– Audrey Hepburn

 

Women…Special Creations

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I cannot believe how fast the days go by. About the time I think I will sit down and write a post, the day is gone and a new one has started. I am not sure, but that may have something to do with age.

Today I got to sit and rest. (It is Mother’s Day after all.) We had an awesome Mother’s Day message in church this morning and it made me reflect on how blessed I am to know so many great women.received_12067976928340321528788078.jpeg

Among those women; I put my Mom and my Mom in law. These women have given so much of their life for their families. They have paved the way for their children to raise families of their own….families that thrive. I am so grateful to these two women and their sacrifices.

 

screenshot_2019-05-05-20-09-54-1637973479.pngI am also grateful for the other women in my life. My sisters, sisters-in-law, daughters-in-law and my sisters of the heart. These women make life wonderful. They love me, they laugh and cry with me, and they hold me accountable for what I say and do. I cannot imagine life without these women.

On this day that honors Mothers….let’s honor all women. Let’s remember that we are women. We were not made to be men or be like men. We were created to be exactly who we are and we are wonderful creations.

Men may not understand us and that is okay….personally I don’t always understand men and I am married to one and raised three more!

This weekend gals…let’s be comfortable in our own skins. Let’s not try to be someone else or fit their ideals. Let’s be grateful for the gifts we have been given and not worry that we do not have someone else’s gift. Let’s realize that we are enough. We have always been enough and we will always be enough. We were created as Enough!!

I hope you had a blessed day today. I hope you had a chance to celebrate a mom, a wife, a daughter, sister, a woman in your life. I pray you have been enriched knowing those special women who make life good.

Please feel free to leave a message about that special woman in your life. I would love to hear about them.

“When your mother asks,
“Do you want a piece of advice?”
it’s a mere formality.
It doesn’t matter if you answer yes or no.
You’re going to get it anyway.”

― Erma Bombeck

Rendering Lard

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Finished product~now to get solid

This past week my husband called me to a task I had been putting off for a bit…..rendering lard. It isn’t that I don’t like to render lard. I just really don’t like all the clean up needed after that very greasy job.

We had two bags of trimmings from a hog that was processed. My husband loves the cracklings for Balken Brie and I love to use the lard for pie crusts and frying things. Because of those two facts I asked the butcher to keep the fat for me.

The first part of the process involved grinding the fat so it would melt better. I always kind of wonder what would happen if we didn’t grind it? Would we just have fried blobs of fat? Or would it all melt? If anyone has the answer to that, please let me know!

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Finishing up the process

After that process, we moved things to the garage. We set up our two fry pans and the cloth lined colander and began. The process never really takes that long to accomplish. It takes about as long to clean up.

As I was packing up the nicely fried up cracklings into freezer bags, putting the cooled lard into containers and washing dishes I had some time to reflect on the entire process.

The fat gets incredibly hot as it melts and you have to be very careful not to burn yourself. I wondered if sometimes our lives are like that. In order for us to be made into a “useful product” must we be put over the fire?

Must we be refined, just as the fat is? The only way to refine the fat and make useable lard and edible cracklings; is to put it on high heat for the necessary time. Without doing that, it is just a blob of fat with bits of meat in it.

I really don’t like being uncomfortable, but I guess if it take high heat to turn my life into more than a blob of fat; I will have to go through that! I am trying to remember that particular truth….Refining is hard, but necessary to be useful.

If you find yourself being “refined” lately; take heart…..it gets better and soon you will find a life of joy again.

Discipline is the refining fire
by which talent becomes ability.
Roy L. Smith

Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/roy_l_smith_155560?src=t_refining

Frayed Edges and Quilts

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About a month ago I started a project. I began making a circle style jean quilt. I found boxes of blue jeans in my laundry room and thought that perhaps I should do something with them rather than just let those boxes take up space.

Pinterest was a great place to start looking for patterns for the quilts I wanted to make. (And no….I don’t get any kickbacks from Pinterest!  I just really like Pinterest.)  I had in mind I wanted to make my grandchildren smaller quilts that would be sturdy enough to use for picnics or tea parties. Blue jeans and old flannel shirts seemed to fit in with that idea.

The flannel shirts that I used came from my husband and my dad-in-law. I also had some flannel leftovers from baby blankets made years ago. The blue jeans were worn out ones that came from family members. I really liked the idea that these would be quilts with history.

I spent days cutting circles out of the jeans and squares out of the flannel. (I know for a fact my husband thought I was a bit nuts to go through all the effort…..I know this because he told me so LOL) I thought it was a great way to keep busy while the weather was to miserable to be outside!

The quilt is 15 circles x 15 circles and ended up being about 4 ft 8 inches square….a very nice size for picnics or tea parties!

Right now; it is hanging over a chair….mainly so that I can admire it and marvel that I got one done. I also have stacks of more jean circles and more flannel squares.  Two more grandkids; so two more quilts!  (I am not even asking my husband his opinion of that!)

Making that quilt was fun. It gave me time to reflect on family and life and all the stuff that goes with family and life. I love the variety of the colors…the plaid flannel pieces and flowered ones….the shades of denim that tie all those colors and patterns together.

That quilt and all it’s variety is a wonderful reminder that every family member is different and yet tied together by a strong bond. The colors blend and mesh when put together, in a way I would not have thought possible. Families blend and mesh in much the same way….everyone unique with their own personalities and yet alike in so many ways.

I liked this pattern because the circle edges remain raw.  They will be allowed to fray and soften the look of the quilt. Another reminder that life and families are not always tidy and neat.

Sometimes things unravel and have lots of loose ends that seem to go nowhere. Sometimes the edges of life and family appear downright messy and that is okay as long as they are still strongly tied together. There is a beauty to the fraying….a testament to life lived fully.

I think frayed edges are just fine. They soften the rough spots…..they add interest.  I will take the fraying that comes…in life and in quilts.

Life is a Crazy-Quilt of Suffering and Joy.
– Jonathan Lockwood Huie

 

Families are like Quilts…
Lives pieced together-
Stitched with smiles
and tears, colored
with memories
and bound by
Love.
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