Holding Fast

20190814_110212217319921.jpg

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.

20190814_110222-11049885502.jpg

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

Two Sides to Freedom

IMG_5850

Tonight as I went out to lock the girls in for the night I was not prepared for the beautiful orange of the western sky as it peeked between the evergreen boughs. The night was quiet with a light breeze gently moving the leaves of the flowering crab tree. It was the perfect ending to some very busy days.

The last weeks have been very busy. I have a feeling we are trying to catch up and stay ahead of things between the heavy rainstorms that we have been given. The lawn seems to be growing faster than we can get it mowed. And the weeds in the fields and garden have been doing the same.

20190704_220858418767343.jpg

Arnold’s Park

In between all the day to day house/farm stuff, we had the 4th of July holiday thrown in. I really love that holiday because we spend it at my sister’s place at the lake. Family and friends gather for a day of fun, food, boat rides and game playing. Stories are traded, babies are held, recipes are traded and the day ends with the traditional firework display.

As I sat there and watched those fireworks I noticed the flag flying proudly at Arnold’s Park. It did make me pause and realize what this celebration was really all about…the birth of our nation and the sacrifice it took to make it through all the labor pains of that birth.

It made me think of the blood that was shed and is still being shed so that freedoms can be protected. I am so grateful for those that are willing to make that sacrifice for us. I am grateful for those who leave their families for months at a time so I can spend a holiday with mine.

20190705_0852451736528332.jpgWe were concerned about the weather as storms were predicted to roll in during the day….fortunately they were wrong this time. We were able to take a walk along the lake the next morning and enjoy the quiet of the lake after the very people-filled day before.

 

It was kind of amazing how quiet the water was that morning. The day before it was choppy due to all the boats and jet skis that were zipping around. It was a great reminder that there are usually two sides to most things in life…you just have to open your eyes to both of them.

In the space of 24 hours we saw both sides of the lake…the busy and the quiet. We were able to see a dazzling fireworks display and enjoy the freedom of that while reflecting on the sacrifice it takes to keep those freedoms.

I will always be grateful for those freedoms and that sacrifice. When I am privileged to stand in my backyard, inhaling the fragrance of blooming lilies, feeling the light breeze whisper past my cheek and see the sky on fire with brilliant shades of orange; I will give thanks to those who have paid the ultimate price. I will remember the two sides that are freedom.

 

Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must,
like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it.

Thomas Paine

 

Lessons from Caterpillars and Geese

IMG_5819

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.

IMG_5826

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

 

 

Friends That Feel Like Family

20190617_1138031347581188.jpg

Friends/Family

This past Monday, Lar and I were privileged to meet one of my blogging friends in person!  Anne (MerhlingMuse)  and her husband, John, stopped by on their way home from a wedding in Denver.

Anne and I had been plotting and planning for a bit to make this day happen. The minute they rolled up in their vehicle it felt like family had come to visit. The time we had together sped by all to quickly.

The couple hours we had was really not enough time to get all the answers to questions we wanted to ask. We learned about each others’ families, churches, hobbies and pretty much every thing in between. We also found out that the Smokies would be a great place to visit.

IMG_5789

Old Train ~ Fremont, NE

Lar and I shared some photos of a train that we had taken on our weekend trip to Lincoln, NE to see our son and his family.

We had found out in advance that John was a train buff and just could not resist taking some photos to share.

We took a brief tour outdoors and Anne was able to take photos of the girls and their chicken coop. The girls cooperated by letting me pick one up for a quick photo of them being held.

Questions were asked about where the water had been during the recent flooding and what we grew for crops. There was lots of talking and laughing before we even made it into the house for a bit of lunch.

20190618_14094882792502.jpg

Cheesecake Pie with Blueberry Topping

I had made a Cheesecake Pie to share for coffee time. Only we had peach ice tea instead of coffee to go with the pie.  I am going to share the recipe as I promised Anne I would make sure she got it.

This is a great pie to make as you can use different kinds of fruit for the topping. You can use canned pie filling or use fresh fruit sweetened with sugar.

 

Easy Cheesecake Pie

Pie Crust:
1 1/2 cups crushed graham crackers, about 24 squares
1/4 cup white sugar
1/3 cup melted butter
Press into pie plate and refrigerate till it is set.
(I have been known to skip the refrigerating step if I am pressed for time.)

Filling:
8 ounce cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup white sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla
1 cup sour cream
8 ounce tub Cool Whip
Mix cream cheese, sugar and vanilla till smooth.
Add sour cream and cool whip.
Put on top of graham cracker crust.

Fruit:
1 can pie filling
Can spread over pie or put dollop on each piece
OR
Sweetened fresh fruit

Refrigerate for a bit before serving and enjoy!

Note:  I have never made this pie with real whipped cream instead of cool whip.
If you try it let me know how it works out!

It was so much fun to talk over lunch. Stories were shared. (see Anne’s link above as she tells them really well!) So much laughter as we discovered we shared a very similar sense of humor. I loved Anne’s story of the family saying, “The chicken is used to it.” I will also let her tell that story as it is hers to share. Needless to say it made me laugh while also learning a good lesson!

It didn’t take long….at least it did not seem long …and it was time they went back to their travels. I am so grateful to hear they made it home safely. I am also so grateful that God put this couple in our lives. I think my husband said it best as we waved good-bye. “That was a great visit….it felt like family.”  He was so very right.

 

A sweet friendship refreshes the soul.
— Unknown,
via etd.ohiolink.edu

 

No friendship is an accident.
— O. Henry,
The Heart of the West

 

 

 

 

 

The Farmer

IMG_5743

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

 

Joy In The Mail

20190606_202935307948939.jpg

This past week has been really busy. After a very long winter and an unreal wet spring, the farmers in our area were finally back in the field.

The river has been behaving again and so have the days. They have been breezy, warm (almost hot) and drying. There are still many wet holes in fields but farmers are now farming around them.

Some farmers do venture close to those muddy areas and do end up getting stuck. It has been a very normal thing this year to see Facebook posts with photos of tractors and equipment up their axles in mud.

The other day, my husband came to the house and said he needed my assistance. He and his tractor had ventured to close to an area that looked fine, but was way too wet. We did get it unstuck without to much trouble and it was decided that area would not get planted this year. (There is probably a life lesson in there somewhere.)

I am also still waiting to finish planting my vegetable garden, but I hesitate to mention it because I need the assistance of my farmer husband and he is quite preoccupied this week.  I know it will eventually all get planted….late…but that is better than not at all!

In the middle of all this odd planting season a bit of joy arrived in my mailbox. The picture above is a card from a blogging friend of mine. (moreinkplease). She knew I had been making jean quilts for my grandkids and she also knew the challenges we were facing with farming this year.

I am in awe of her talent at card making  skills (and yes she does sell them and I hope she puts a link to that in the comment section!) Here is the link for her Facebook page…Late Blooming Designs by beverly. I am also loving how she knew exactly the words to write to ease this farm wife’s heart and soul. She is an amazing example of how a few words can say and do so much.

Let’s finish this week following her example. Let’s encourage each other through the hard parts. Let’s see those who are stuck in the mud holes of life and the literal mud holes. Let’s offer words of hope. It doesn’t have to be big….a quilted card can bring a lot of joy! 

“Be humble,
be simple,
and bring joy to others.”
– Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat

 

 

 

 

Signs….Not Always Accurate

20190403_171834922017413.jpg

I do not typically make e-bay purchases, but when my husband called my attention to this sign and it was a buy it now deal……I found I could not resist.

This sign is pretty laughable when I think of my chickens. The girls are pretty tame and generally mind their own business during the day.  (My husband pointed out that this sign is accurate if you happen to be a bug or a worm….)

I have seen them chase small birds that were picking at the same seeds or bugs they were after. It is great fun to watch them chase the small moths that like to hide in the summer grass.

I have never yet seen them attack anything that was bigger than them. After thinking on that I may be wrong. I did see them, one time, go after a friend’s toenails.

She and her husband arrived one evening before I locked the girls in for the night.  My friend had sandals on; and had her toe nails painted red. We soon discovered that those girls love red toe nail polish and they were very persistent as they followed her where ever she went.

I often wonder what those chickens would do if I painted their toe nails red…..chase themselves around? I wonder this because I have another chicken loving friend who actually does this!

My biggest problem with my sign is knowing where to put it. My husband thinks it should be put on the chicken coop. I think it needs a more prominent place…somewhere that keeps people wondering about the girls!!( In case you were not aware of it….I have a sense of humor that may or may not be a bit off-center.)

My husband also wonders how long I will keep having chickens. I really don’t know how to answer that question. I enjoy having the girls around. I laugh about their different personalities and I love the fresh eggs.  I also wonder what my grandkids would call me if I no longer had chickens?

I have a feeling there will be chickens around here for a long time….and I am thinking that is a fine idea! We don’t have a dog…who else am I going to talk to as I work outside this summer? Yup, the girls may be around a long time.

 

Chickens are like potato chips
You can’t have just one…..
Unknown