Friends That Feel Like Family

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

 

Joy In The Mail

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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

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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

 

 

 

 

So Many Changes in a Week

IMG_5525 2What a difference a week can make!  Last week at this time we were watching flood waters rise, snow melt at an alarming rate and pumping water away from the house. This morning we sat on the deck in the sunshine and enjoyed the warmth immensely.

Our river is making it’s way back into the banks where it should be, ice bergs are turning dirty and look lonely in the middle of fields. The ice jam on the river has made it’s way downstream and I have a tulip blooming in a pot.

I am reminded of the fact that downstream all is not well and won’t be for a very long time. Nebraska is suffering greatly. Ranchers have lost herds, ground and are overwhelmed. Entire towns have been submerged with ice floes inside buildings where people used to gather. Wells have been compromised so water restrictions are in place in many locations.

Someone was questioning on Facebook how come there were no stories of looting going on in these locations. I have done some thinking about that question; because it is a good one.

I think one of the biggest reasons is that these are real communities. People know who lives next door. They know the guy they buy their groceries from and more than likely know the family of the checker in the grocery line.

People in rural communities are neighbors. They worship together…maybe not at the same church or in the same denomination but they worship together. These people sit side by side and watch their children play at sporting events…many times against each other at these sporting events.

These people in the heartland have worked hard for their place in life and they respect each other and hold each other accountable. It would be hard to steal from someone you have prayed with, laughed with, cried with and know.

These people have that old-fashioned sense of community with a strong emphasis on unity. They don’t always agree….often don’t agree….. but get along anyway. It is family and family has your back.

These Nebraska towns are what American used to be all over this country. They are the best of us and don’t let you off the hook when you have acted your worst. They say it like it is and you know they tell you things because they care. It is honesty….it is integrity….it is unity.

I am in awe of these Midwesterners and hope I can be counted among them. They are a lot to live up to. My mind wanders to how can we help people who are used to giving instead of taking? I am going to try post some links below of places that can be contacted.

HOW TO HELP

Orphan Grain Train, Inc

In NW IA there will be a trailer parked at Livestock Manufacturing and Equipment at the corner of Hwy 18 & 75, (west of Hull, IA) starting Saturday where you can bring supplies such as: Milk Replace, Fencing needs, bottled water, cleaning supplies and so on.

Fremont, NE has been putting out lists of places to go to volunteer and list of supplies needed by communities and individuals.

The Red Cross and Salvation Army are also great places to find out what is needed by way of supplies and/or volunteers. I have a feeling they will be needing things for a long while.

I am trying to also post a video someone made of the damage in Nebraska this past week. I hope it works!  I am not confident in that but we will see.

The lesson I am learning from this past week is that it is good to have neighbors you know. It is good to be that neighbor. It is a blessing to have someone’s back and they have yours.

I have learned quiet people are often underrated. Their courage isn’t noisy…it isn’t loud. Their integrity is the kind that often needs a second look….but when you really see that person…you see someone you want for your neighbor.

Our prayers are with you Nebraska. Our help is on the way and your courage in this devastation will be the quiet roar that shows a nation what America was and still is.

Courage doesn’t always roar,
sometimes it’s the quiet voice at the end of the day whispering
I will try again tomorrow.

Mary Anne Radmacher

Weathering the Storm

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I was pretty excited the other day to hear we were going to get to the 40s this week. Little did I know what the 40s would do to the great amount of snow we had laying around. Add in some rain to that mix and you really have a water event.IMG_5506

Once again, our river is nearly as high as it was last fall! This time it is complete with ice blocking the flow of the river, ice floes in the bottom field and ducks floating blissfully on that same field.

Yesterday my husband spent time digging “canals” crisscrossing our yard in an attempt to get the water away from the house. He spent time doing that and plugging in a sump pump to keep the water out of our basement. I will have to say that Iowa weather is never boring. Personally I am ready for boredom when it comes to weather.

I also had forgotten the mud that would accompany such a fast melt. This is not your basic mud….this is boot-sucking mud. You have to walk very carefully in this mud. If you don’t you will find yourself with a very wet muddy sock and your boot stuck where your foot used to be. It is probably an incredible workout program.

Most of the schools around here are only running their buses on the hard surface roads. I totally get that as our short stretch of mud gravel road is not really negotiable anymore. I will have to say that it does keep things interesting.

With all this water around I am reminded of a verse that says, “When you go through the deep water.” Isaiah 43:2. I am struck by the fact that is says WHEN not IF. It also promises that we will not be swept under. I find that to be a great comfort in every circumstance.

IMG_5508And so I watch the waters rise, I hear the wind howl as the rain changes between snow and rain; as if it cannot decide which season it is, and I slip and slide over a yard of mud, ice and running water.

I hear of communities in Iowa, South Dakota and Nebraska that have taken huge hits with water damage. Dams and bridges washed away, homes flooded with basements collapsing and entire businesses gone. It makes our flooding look fairly minor. There is definitely perspective to all things.

So much of life is perspective. It is good to take a step back and realize we are not alone. In the storms, in the high waters, in the mud and ice….we are not forgotten. We are not in control and for that I am eternally grateful.

May your weekend find you safe and warm. May you keep your head above water and may you find blessing in the floods of life.

 

Sometimes you just need to bow your head,
say a prayer and weather the storm.

Unknown