Celebrating The 4th!

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A gray start to the day

The day dawned gray and a bit stormy looking but my husband and I loaded the car for our annual 4th of July celebration. We headed for the lake to join family and friends at my sister and her husband’s lake home.

We did make our way there slowly, as we tried to stay a bit behind the storm. Our road trip there took longer; but we got to investigate new antique places, small towns and garage sales on our way. (There is usually an upside to even rainy days!)

We made our annual stop at Trapper’s Bay on Silver Lake. My husband spent many hours fishing there as a kid and loves to drive through the small park. We arrived there not too long after the wind and rain had made it’s way through that town. Lots of trees were down and the people there were spending their holiday cleaning up.

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Docks underwater due to lots of rainfall this year

Typically the day is hot and excellent for boating, swimming, and just enjoying the water…..not so this year. After having had some very hot days leading up to the 4th, we started the day with rain…and we ended the day with rain.

The lake was so high that there was a no wake rule for all the lakes in the county. We did get a very leisurely boat ride in the afternoon. I must admit there was something wonderfully relaxing about that slow boat ride. It was quiet, with very few boats on the water.

Another storm moved in early in the evening and the big firework show was cancelled….but not the fireworks my brother in law had purchased! We sat in the dark, under umbrellas and watched as our guys attempted to keep the wicks on the fireworks lit.

This was the first year I had ever seen them lighting fireworks while standing under an umbrella. There was lots of laughter, much encouragement and we made sure to oooohhhhh and aaaahhhhh as the sky lit with colors.

It didn’t take too long and we had to abandon the effort, as it just became too soggy. (Much to the relief of my future daughter-in-law who had given my son stern instructions that morning; that he was not to get injured, as their wedding was only a week away!)

The guys did manage to get a wonderful finale firework lit to end the night. I wish I could have downloaded the video my sister took but I just am not quite tech savvy enough to know how to make that one work; so you will just have to make do with a still shot.

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The Grand Finale~photo credit to my sister Andrea

The rain did put a damper on the day, due to the fact that we were not able to do the things we normally do on the 4th of July.  In looking back on that day, I am realizing that the most important things still got done….

We remembered the sacrifices made for this country. We prayed for our country, our leaders and those who serve. We gave thanks for family, friends and good food. We laughed, enjoyed each other’s company, and we did get wet….just not in the lake.

Sometimes it is good to not have a day go how you planned. Sometimes it leaves the door open to see the holiday from a different view. It is good to realize that joy in family and in friendships is not dependent on weather or circumstances. It is totally dependent on being together and that is enough.

 

“Cherish your human connections
– your relationships with friends and family.”
– Barbara Bush

 

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Thistles and Rain

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It has been a little wet around here lately. The old saying, “When it rains…it pours” is pretty true in this part of the country lately. After waiting…for what seemed like a long time and wishing for rain…it now seems easy to come by.

I wandered around the other morning with my camera in hand as I couldn’t get in my garden (due to rain) and I couldn’t mow (also due to rain). It seemed a logical choice to go and see if I could capture some of the beauty left by the rain.

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It was fun to try get a photo of the raindrops  dripping from the flowers and leaves.

To be very honest it was also a great opportunity for a blog post as the idea well seems a bit drier than the weather for this Chicken Grandma!

Later that afternoon my husband called for me to join him behind the machine shed. There is a patch of thistles growing back there that really should be taken care of as they do tend to spread.

We discovered, however, that those thistles might be weeds, but the butterflies and bees sure seemed to be enjoying them.

Seeing those thistles in a different light made me reflect on the fact that there are definitely two sides to most things in life. Something might seem to be a weed in your field or a weed in your life….when you look closer and really have a chance to study on it…you may just find that “weed” serves a purpose you had never thought of.

It was good to realize that truth. Life has been busy and somewhat stressful lately. There have seemed to be a lot of “weeds” springing up and flourishing, where I would rather not have them.

Maybe I need to be patient….maybe I need to open my eyes, my ears and my heart to really see, hear and know what those “weeds” actually are doing in my life. Maybe I just need to let God have those “weeds” and let Him take care of them in His own time.

That is a hard lesson for me….I love to fix things and I really want to fix things now instead of later. I guess it is a good time to sit back, watch the rain, and enjoy the lessons the thistles are teaching.

 

“Some of the most beautiful things worth having in your life
come wrapped in a crown of thorns.”

Shannon L. Alder

 

 

Grandma-ing

The old signs used to hang on business doorways…”Gone Fishing”.

This is my weekend to hang out a sign..only I am not fishing….I am Gone Grandma-ing. Yup a new term and a great one.

I am finding out that I am not as young as I was when my kids were this age! Good thing there are 2 grandmas to take care of one boy.

I will be back next week but for now my days are occupied with other things.

Children are a gift from the Lord;
They are a reward from Him”
Psalm 127:3

I’ll See You When I See You…

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The other day my husband was out planting soybeans in the field around the section. I had to take the pickup out there with more seed beans for him. Before I left I told him what I always say when he is out doing fieldwork and has no idea when he will be back…”I’ll see you when I see you….”

As I drove home I started thinking about that farewell saying. I thought about it in connection with the upcoming holiday of Memorial Day or Decoration Day as my Grandma always called it.

I wondered if any moms, dads, sweethearts, wives, sons, daughters and so on used those same words of farewell when sending a loved one off to the military? When they sent those loved ones off in times of war they had no idea when they would see them next, or if they would see them again this side of heaven.

A couple years back my sister and I had the privilege of going to Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C. We were able to visit the grave of our cousin’s son, Julian, who gave his life for this country.

Not everyone, serving in the military comes back in a flag draped casket. But many do….and my heart hurts for those families who do have to deal with that loss. I pray they know how very grateful this nation and this farm wife is to those who serve and give all.

I also hope that our military men and women know how deeply grateful we are for all who serve and protect us and our values. Their sacrifices, being away from their loved ones, going through hardships for us, humbles me and puts a lump in my throat when I think about it. They are the core of what makes this nation great.

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When my youngest son was in grade school, (many years ago) they held a day to honor the veterans in our community. The photo that was taken that day remains one of my all time favorite photos…..my son with his Grandpa who served in the medic group in the 50’s. He was stationed in Germany and is still so very proud of his service to his country.

I am grateful to the men and women who serve and allow us to not worry. Their service allows us to get up each day and go about daily tasks without fear. Their service lets me ponder on a simple farewell as I leave my husband in the freshly disked soybean field.

For those families who spend Memorial Day at the cemetery putting flowers on the grave of the one who did not come back….you are not forgotten and neither is your loved one. And for those of us who do not stand at a graveside tomorrow and shed tears while the hole in our hearts still bleeds with sorrow….let us not forget….let us remember to say thank you.

Greater love hath no man than this,
that a man lay down his life for his friends.
John 15:13 KJV

 

I’ll see you when I see you…..
Chicken Grandma

Raining Petals

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The other day I drove past my in-laws home. I should have stopped and taken a picture of their flowering crab tree; but I was in a hurry. The tree was absolutely beautiful that day and loaded with rose-colored flowers……overloaded actually. I made the assumption that I could take a photo when I went to town the next day and had more time…..so I kept driving.

When I stopped the next day; I found the next day was too late. The wind had picked up during the night and many of the flower petals had blown off and lay in drifts on the driveway. The slight breeze was still making it rain petals and we stood and watched as the petals twisted and drifted on the wind, then dropped to join the drift on the driveway.

The day of the “petal drift” was spent with my husband’s siblings; sorting and dividing the lifetime of memories in their parent’s house. There was much laughter and lots of stories told. The good times were discussed and the not so good times were discussed.

We reminisced and also caught up on each other’s lives; as siblings came from other places and other states to help out. It was also heart-warming to see that treasured pieces were going to kids and grandchildren who would also treasure them, and the memories they held.

Much of that day was like the drift of the petals of that flowering crab. The time was taken to enjoy the relationship of family before the wind would blow us too far to be gathered up again.

There are things to be learned from that rose colored petal drift…..life does not stay the same. Overnight things can change and life looks totally different…..not always bad…but different.

There was a beauty to be found in that drift of petals. Like life, it was just a different kind of beauty. Life changes and it is good to look for the “different” beauty to be grasped. Usually that new beauty is not of our own choosing, but is still okay.

There is also the lesson, for me, that I should not always assume that life will not change. There are times when the wind will take what you know and blow it into a totally different shape when you least expect it. That new shape is not always bad…it is just sometimes uncomfortable. For me, it makes me rely on God more than I would if life were going smooth.

In visiting my in-laws in their new apartment in assisted living; I am learning that change can be handled with grace. I am learning that each new place has a joy of it’s own and there is always something new to be learned.

We may drift and we may twist like rose-colored petals in the wind. We may not be sure of where we will land once the breeze lets us go….but we can be sure, we have the choice to enjoy where we land…..and that is a good thing.

For everything there is a season,
and a time for every matter under heaven: 

Ecclesiastes 3:1

 

Ups and Downs

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Today when I went out to do my chicken chores I received a gift. As I stood by my chicken coop I was serenaded by two different birds.

The first was a Baltimore Oriole. Usually they are hard to spot once the trees have leaves on them. For some reason this bird perched on the top branch where he was easily seen. I was privileged to enjoy his beautiful orange and black feathers while I listened to his song.

When he would pause, there was a Barn Swallow sitting on the electric wires that run to the electric pole on our yard. It appeared that the Swallow was looking directly at me as he sang and gave that certain Barn Swallow clicking sound. Those birds singing, in plain view, were such an unexpected gift.

Last week has been  one of “those weeks”. It was incredibly busy (which is why there was no post!). I have always thought that when one did not have a regular job to go to every day; there would be plenty of time to accomplish everything that needed to get done. Not so!

This past week was spent preparing for two bridal showers; to be held on the same day. (My middle son is getting married this summer!) Tossed in to the shower mix, was time spent making and decorating a cake for a college graduation, a cake for a baptism and cupcakes for a different bridal shower hosted by my aunt for her grandchildren. My husband also tossed in a road trip to check out some farm equipment.

There were plenty of ups and downs during the week. That seems to be the way of life….it can get slightly skewed. Some good mixed with some not so good. I was reminded that I am not in control and that there is peace to be found in trusting that God has a plan.

When those birds showed up this afternoon, it was like a love song straight from the heart of God. I am not sure why I am always surprised that God shows up right when I really need it. I also don’t know why I am surprised at the way He shows up. He has never failed me yet (even though I question constantly).

If you have had a day, a week, a month or perhaps even a year of wondering what God is doing in your life or in the lives of those you love….fear not….He DOES have a plan and it is in His time…..I am counting on that promise!

May you see a glimmer of His goodness in the midst of trials. May you feel His love and protection in the beauty of a sunrise or in the song of a Baltimore Oriole. He is there….sometimes we just have to be still and listen.  May you have a blessed week.

“Don’t focus on what is not here….
focus on the blessings God has put in front of you
and enjoy the day.”

Sandy G.

 

Birthdays and Bonding

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This coming weekend my mom will be celebrating her 84th birthday. For the last 4 years, we have been celebrating that day with a little “girl” time. Today was that day, and we went to a nearby town to have either our fingernails or our toenails done.

The group pictured above consists of my mom, my aunt, two sisters, one sister-in-law, and myself. When we started out doing this four years ago we never realized it would become a tradition…but it has…and it is a wonderful tradition.

We all live within 20 miles of each other, but for some reason do not seem to get together nearly as often as we should. It is good that there are special days to celebrate so that events like these happen.

At this particular outing we caught up with news about a nephew who is hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, learned that a couple pregnant nieces are doing good, a bridal shower was planned and the state of the world (especially our little niche of it) was discussed.

We also added food and nail polish to the mix of fun. My aunt hosted us for lunch, we had our nails done (with design for me of course!), and finished our day off with a snack at the ice cream capitol of the world…Well’s Blue Bunny in LeMars. (where the photo was taken by a very nice bystander).

There is something about gathering with the women in your family that is so very special. There is always lots of reminiscing, lots of catching up on each other’s families, lots of laughter, some eye-rolling over various stories, and generally a great time.

I am finding out that gathering with my family is essential. They hold me accountable, they love me unconditionally, they are always there for me and they make the word mentor come to mind.

I know that if I have anything going on in my life, joyful or otherwise, these are the women I can count on to watch my back. They will laugh with me, (and at me!), they will cry with me and they will pray with and for me. They are a true gift and a blessing.

My prayer is that they all know how very much they mean to me. My prayer also is that each of you has someone like this in your life. Someone who can bless you and who you can bless in return.

Take some time this weekend to connect with those family members that you haven’t spoken with in a while. Reminisce about the things that bond you together. Share your hopes for the future. It will be time well-spent and you will never regret having spent that time together. I am still grinning thinking about our bonding time!

The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches,
but to reveal to him his own.
Benjamin Disraeli

Family is a lot of things;
it’s an anchor in stormy waters and
a blessing throughout the journey.
Sometimes rocky,
but always beautiful,
the relationships shared between family members are
the perfectly imperfect depiction of unconditional love.
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