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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Busyness and Bonfires

IMG_3542 Mallows.JPG

I have to confess.  I started today’s post at least three different times. Each time I ran stuck and my brain headed down a different track. I started out with the fact I was privileged to go to an amazing concert the other night, detoured into weeding my garden, headed down the path of the hot muggy weather and ended up at the end of the day by the firepit.  Okay….maybe I had four topics!

For some reason, focusing was not my strong suit today when it came to writing and I still feel a bit scattered.  I think I will stick with the fire pit topic and work my way backwards on those other topics over the next couple posts.

This week started out in a busy fashion that is typical of the late spring season that is Iowa and farming.  We started out the week with grass hay down in the ditches and in the waterway. Once we heard the forecast for possible rain we decided we needed to give out attention to getting it baled up before it got rained on. By Tuesday night we were so glad we had baled as we actually had 1.2 inches of rain.

For us, lately that is a pretty good amount as rain has been kind of hard to come by around here.  It is amazing what a nice rain can do to refresh the earth and your spirits!  The rain also gave me a break from weeding in the garden and let me catch up on other jobs I had been putting off.

When I look back at today I have to really think to figure out what I spent my day doing. There were so many little odd things like cleaning out a couple drawers and getting ruthless with the stuff that was in the back of those drawers. It was a day spent doing things that no one else will notice…..but I will!

By the time it was evening the wind had died down and I talked my husband into building a fire in the fire pit. I have had a stash of tree branches mounded up in the back yard since last fall. They have been waiting a long time to be burned…and tonite was the night.

I love that the bonfire served a two-fold purpose – time to sit and relax and also a great way to finally get rid of those branches.

There is something so very relaxing about just sitting in the darkening evening and watching the flames dance skyward. It was especially sweet after the busy start to the week. It was a good way to taper off the busyness of the day.

Sitting there, listening to the frogs singing and watching the fireflies dance through the night was one of those Aaaahhhhhh moments. We watched the chickens head in for the nights. We listened to the snort of a deer as it bedded down in the grass behind the grove. We got to enjoy the first stars as they came out for the night.

Life is indeed good when you take the time to slow down and enjoy the small things.

Some of the best conversations I’ve had
are sitting around a camp fire.
Robyn Davidson

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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

Sweet Weekends

IMG_3303 Getting Ready to Plant

This past weekend started in typical Spring busy fashion. My husband was trying to beat the forecasted rain by getting his soybean fields disked and planted by noon on Saturday. The rain forecast was not the only reason for the deadline…..some was  due to kids coming home for the weekend…… He got the beans planted with time to spare….a little time.

Once the planting was done; there was time to visit with the kids, grill burgers for the noon meal, play legos with the grandson, set up tea parties for the granddaughter and get ready and out the door for a bride/groom shower for a nephew and his fiancée that evening. It was a busy day, but it was a great kind of busy!

Sunday was one of the sweetest I have known in a long time……I got to sit in church; next to my kids and my grandkids. There is not much sweeter in life than a wiggly grandchild sitting on your lap in church. True….it is hard to listen to the pastor….with all the shushing going on and the distractions…but it is sweet indeed.

I had decided I wanted to try get pictures of the grandkids after church, as it was a beautiful day. I had to convince my granddaughter that taking her picture was a grand idea. She was not convinced till I resorted to bribery……spoonfuls of chocolate frosting are a wonderful enticement for photo ops.

It didn’t take long and the rest of our children arrived for Sunday dinner. It was such a blessing to have them all around the table. The laughter, good-natured teasing, re-hashing of old memories, and good food was such a treat for this mom. There is not much I treasure more than sitting and watching my family enjoy being together.

We did have to venture outside after dinner as it became time for the “Big Reveal”. (I am learning that “reveals” are the new thing as a way to tell people what gender your child will be.) My youngest son had told me last week that they needed lots of space for the reveal they had planned.

IMG_3329 Prep for the Reveal

I knew my sons like to shoot clay pigeons so I had a feeling this reveal would involve shooting some type of target….I just wasn’t totally sure what. I found out soon that it would also involve a lot of noise!

My son had found the idea on the internet that you put either pink or blue chalk powder in a box with tannerite. When you shoot it…..it makes an incredible amount of noise and it sends up a huge cloud of the appropriately colored powder. It brings to mind 4th of July fireworks!

IMG_3336 The Reveal

I must admit….it was impressive and it was a lot of fun finding out we were going to have a new grandson come September.

The day was capped off with  finishing up the leftover cupcakes from the shower the night before. There was more laughter, more planning for future gatherings, more fun in just being together for a few more minutes, before they all had to get on the road and head for home.

My children have definitely learned the art of hospitality. They live in three different cities, but they remain close. They stay in touch and make sure they all stay part of each other’s lives.  It is a blessing and a gift to see the joy they have in being together. That joy makes for a very sweet weekend.

Like branches on a tree,
our lives may grow in different directions
yet our roots remain as one
Unknown

Signs of Spring

IMG_3268 Apple Blossoms

“It is spring again.
The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.”
Rainer Maria Rilke

 

It feels like it is officially Spring now!  The apple trees are in full bloom and are absolutely beautiful. It is hard for me to imagine how one tree can be covered by so many blossoms at the same time.

I have to keep reminding myself that these blossoms should be enjoyed fully right now. Like so many things in life, they will not last. It won’t be long and a breeze will pluck them from the tree and they will float down in a soft rain of pink petals. They might be fleeting, but they are truly a wonderful gift while they last.

I decided to take advantage of the gift and took the time to wander through my backyard and see what other signs of spring I could find. It was kind of a mini scavenger hunt and it was a refreshment for the soul.

IMG_3269 Baby Robins.JPG

The other day my husband discovered this robin’s nest in one of our White Pine evergreen trees. I thought, as the nest was not so far up the tree, I should attempt to capture a picture of them before they get to big.

Mama Robin was not really impressed with me getting close enough to photograph them. In fact I think I made her downright crabby! She kept a very watchful eye on me from her perch on my garden fence and the minute I backed away she went right back to the nest to make sure everything was okay.

IMG_3278 Bleeding Heart

One of my favorite perennials around here is the bleeding heart bush I planted two years ago. It was a tiny slip of a plant when I put it in the ground. I remember putting a small fence around it to protect it from the rabbits and the chickens.  I babied that plant along with the hope that it would survive and someday bloom.

The rabbits probably would have eaten it if they had a chance and the chickens definitely would have scratched around the plant and totally destroyed it. (Things you learn living out here!) It is best not to leave tender seedlings exposed to rabbits and chickens.

I kind of think I love bleeding hearts because they are such an old fashioned flower. They are a plant I remember my Grandma having in her flower garden. It is also great it is a perennial…..I love the fact they come back year after year. There is something comforting about a plant that keeps coming back even after the harsh Iowa winters.

IMG_3282 The Dandelion.JPG

When you look at a  field of dandelions you can either see a hundred weeds or a hundred wishes  – Unknown

 

There is one other “perennial” that we seem to have in abundance……the Dandelion. For many years I fought a battle with those bright yellow flowers. I tried spraying them, digging them out and mowing them off….constantly. Nothing stopped them from coming back.

Since those years I have come to a truce with the dandelion. I discovered one morning while pondering those dandelions that is was better to let them grow. I found that my lawn was filled with bright yellow gold finches. They were feasting on the dandelions that had gone to seed.

I decided at that time that I would never have a lawn that makes the front cover of a landscape magazine. I also decided that if I couldn’t have that kind of lawn I would have one that invited wildlife to come and have some lunch. To be very honest it was much more fun watching all those finches hopping around my yard than it would have been to see only green smooth grass.

I have also seen magazine articles about all the wonderful things you can do with a dandelion…..I have not tried any of them….yet. They say (I am not sure who “they” are) that you can eat the leaves in salads. I do wonder if they would taste good or if they would be kind of bitter?  I also have a friend who has made dandelion wine. (I do wonder how many blossoms she had to pick to make that gallon of wine.)

Those yellow blooms bring back great childhood memories of picking fistfuls to bring to my mom. The downside of that was that our hands were stained for days with the stuff that oozed out of those stems and onto our hands. Fortunately, as a kid, we were not too concerned with dirty stained hands.

It is a wonderful thing to be able to look at that bright yellow bloom and let your mind wander back to that time called childhood. What brings back those wonderful childhood memories for you? For me it is Spring with it’s yellow dandelions and the wonder of blue robin’s eggs hatching into baby birds.

 

The day the Lord created hope
was probably the same day he created Spring.
Bernard Williams

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Rainstorms and Promises

 

The other night we had a small rainstorm come through our area of the country. The weatherman had been promising for days that rain was on the way. My husband and I thought that sounded a lot better than the snow that we received not that long ago.

The clouds started rolling in and looked kind of threatening, like they held some danger in their dark swirls. It was odd that you could look one direction and the sky was full of light and held none of the threat that the clouds to the north seem to hold.

IMG_3247 Storm Clouds

I must admit there was a strange beauty in those clouds. They seemed to cast an entirely different light over the landscape than was normal. Colors seemed deeper, the world seemed hushed and waiting, and you could smell the coming rain on the breeze.

IMG_3252 Dark Skies

It was a time to just stand and marvel at the painting that was creation. It was a time to enjoy that hush before the wind picked up and the drops began to fall.

 

The girls did not seem to worry about the coming rain. They did seem to stick a little closer to “home” . I always wonder if animals have an inner voice that tells them when they need to stick close to home and be ready to run for cover. It is a good lesson to learn from the girls….that until that time comes….you might as well enjoy the day you have been given.

Once the drops began to fall the girls ran for cover and were safely in for the night. I was grateful for that; as that meant I did not have to go out when it was pouring rain and dark! Sliding around on the grass and in mud while holding an umbrella and gripping a flashlight requires some extra coordination that is sometimes lacking……

IMG_3244 Taking Cover in the Tree

Even the wild birds seemed to sense that it was time to find a place to hunker down and stay close to home. This robin stayed fairly close to her nest while waiting for the rain to come. Their lifestyle seems to be one of trust that life will be okay…..through the storms and on the sunny days.

IMG_3260 A Promise

I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.

 

Once the rain had rolled through the sun came out in a blaze of glory and we had the most beautiful rainbow! We not only had one complete rainbow ……..

IMG_3261 A Double Promise

A Double Promise

 

…….we were blessed with a double rainbow! What a blessing to be reminded of God’s goodness and His promises to us. It was such a lesson that “He gives us so much more than we could ever imagine.” Ephesian 3:20.

May your coming weekend be filled with blessings, seen and unseen. May you find safe shelter in the times of storm and may you see the promise that is before you.

 

“The sun is always shining….
you just can’t always see it.”
John Scholten
(my dad)