A Lesson In Hope

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I spoke with a friend last week. There is nothing unusual in that because I tend to speak directly, or through texts with friends everyday. What was unusual was the news she told me.

A friend of hers has been diagnosed with cancer….incurable….inoperable. I know this friend of hers. This friend posted on Facebook and I was blown away at the words she wrote. They were words that acknowledged pain, wondered about the unknown, and her words were fearless.

Her words were HOPE. Not hope in the days spent on earth. Not hope in the friendships. Not hope in the things of this world….but hope in the One who orchestrates our days. They were words of a life to be lived while still alive.

The past week has been a time of news that is not good to our way of thinking. Too many friends, relatives and acquaintances with diagnosis of illnesses that are going to be a challenge and going to bring pain to them and those around them. It has been a week of hearing about family issues that hurt. It had just been one of those weeks.

The news makes us want to ask “Why?” Years ago I had an aunt who answered that question with “Why not me?” It was a perspective shift for me. It is a question I try ask when life seems to pick me up and toss me around like an amusement park ride.

I don’t know the answer to either of those questions. What I do know is that hope sustains…hope comforts….and hope never disappoints when your hope is in the One who created you.

Hope gives you the ability to put one foot in front of the other when the way is dark. It sustains through physical, mental, and spiritual anguish.

And so I will watch these people that I know…these people I love…these friends, acquaintances and relatives who make this journey. I am in awe of their faith. I am in awe of the way they handle these days and the thought of the days to come.

They are an inspiration….they are a witness. They have Hope with a capital H because God…..God in the dark and God in the light. He shines and because they have hope they reflect the shine and I stand in awe.

Yes….life is hard and sometimes feels like an amusement park ride that will not let you get off. But Hope……..

 

Hope is being able to see
that there is light despite all of the darkness.
Desmond Tutu

 

Faith and Farmers

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So many things in life take faith. In the years I have been married to a farmer I can testify to the fact that farming is one of those things.

Every year my husband diligently heads off to the field to prepare and plant the crop he hopes to harvest in the fall. Some years that works out really well…..and other years not quite so good.

This past year we experienced some of the worst flooding on our fields that we have ever seen. We watched that water come up, go down, come up and again, very slowly go down the second time.

My farmer husband patiently (sort of) waited for the fields to dry enough to get back in them. He would walk out to the bottoms and stand in the middle of brown dead corn. He never said much when he came back…..he just waited and wondered what the best course of action would be for those fields.

This past week I witnessed an act of faith. I saw him once again haul out the disk and planter, prepare that bottom piece of field and plant it. It is rather late in the season but he has faith that there will be something that can be harvested from that piece. He is a quiet witness to perseverance, hope and faith.

I am reminded that we have never experienced a total crop failure like those farmers did in the 30’s. I often wonder how they kept hope alive when the rains never came.

It is a good lesson for me to learn…..that things are probably never quite as hopeless as it looks at the first look. That with a little patience and perseverance things might turn around….that sometimes the only thing you have is faith and the hope that faith brings……and that is enough.

“A farmer has to be an optimist 
or he wouldn’t still be a farmer.”

Will Rodgers

 

“He makes grass grow for the cattle,
and plants for people to cultivate-
bringing forth food from the earth.”
Psalm 104:14

 

Be The Drip

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We have been enjoying some beautiful weather in the days following our last snow storm. The sun has been shining and the snow has been quickly disappearing. I am pretty happy with that development as I am totally ready for the Spring season.

As I went outside last night to lock the girls in for the night I walked out of the garage door to warmer temperatures. I stood for a bit and just listened to the steady drip….drip….drip of the snow melting off the rooftops and dropping to the ground below.

The steady dripping of each drop of water was slowly melting the icy snow that lay on the ground below the eaves. It is always amazing to me how those single drops of water have that much power. Those single drops can slowly wear down banks of pristine white snow, melt blocks of ice and slowly smooth edges of solid rock.

Standing there watching and listening to those sparkling droplets got me to thinking. Perhaps, we should be drips! Look how much a single drop affects it’s surroundings. It waters plants and brings them back to life…it wears away all those rough edges…it slowly washes away the grime and makes things fresh and new.

Those droplets don’t worry about running out….they just keep dropping until they have given everything and have nothing left. The beauty of it is….the dew comes in the night and they are renewed. The next morning there is a new batch of drops that can get on with the job of being drips.

Those little drops speak the promise of spring weather to come. They speak of life and so much promise. They may be small, but they are not insignificant. In many ways we are like those tiny drops of moisture. We might think we are small but we, are not insignificant and we have so much to offer.

We might, at times, be tempted to believe the lies that our lives don’t matter. We might believe that we are only one person and can’t affect anything. But we can! Like those steady little drops, we can make a difference in ways we cannot begin to imagine.

We were created to make a difference. We were created to be a blessing to those around us and be blessed in return……we were, indeed, created to be drips

I will be at a women’t retreat this weekend so I will be out of touch for a bit. I am hoping to be a drip at that retreat. I am praying to make a difference in someone’s life. I am also praying that someone drips on me! It is always good to have your soul watered and then pour that blessing out on someone else.

If you find yourself feeling dry as dust this week I pray you will be blessed by that small steady drip. May you be filled up to overflowing….to the point where you become the drip.

 

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him,
so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13
New International Version

New Year….New Choices

New Years Eve 2017

Sometimes I wonder about that saying that goes something like this: The older you get….the wiser you get. I am not really sure that is total truth or just wishful thinking.

This past holiday weekend, I think we have been living in the deep freezer in our area of the country. When you have a high of -9º for the day, it certainly feels like a deep freezer….and when it gets to -24º, it is a certainty.

My husband and I always wonder aloud why we stay living here. I think the answer is somewhere between the fact that this is where we raised our family and this is where we are surrounded by familiar people and things.

Even with the terribly cold temperature there is the comforting thought of knowing that this weather cannot last because it never has. There is the wonderful knowing that if we survive this arctic blast…..spring and summer really are just around the corner.

I think that is what is so great about the New Year holiday. You know the weather more than likely will be extremely cold in an ugly way….but there is also the knowledge that it is the New Year and it will change. You also know that this is the start of another year to possibly do things in life better….so the weather is just an inconvenience.

New Years is kind of like a do over. It is a season of hope that if things have been bad last year….they will get better…..it is a season of realizing that you have made it through the past year and it’s challenges so there is really no reason you cannot make it through the coming year.

New Years is a promise of wonderful things to come, time to remember all the great things of the year that has just passed and choices to be made and the fact you will get to make those choices. You can choose joy in the little things over stress about things you cannot change. You get to choose to live instead of just survive. It is really an amazing gift to be able to make those choices.

Our New Years Eve party, this past year, had a theme of the Rainbow and the promises Bible coloring cardthat come with that rainbow. We did have to grin that our rainbow theme was the old-school rainbow idea that speaks of God’s love and His covenant with us…..not the new version the world has turned it into. We were asked to wear bright colors for the event.

Even though it was cold we did go to the party, and thoroughly enjoyed playing board games with colorful pieces, coloring with pencil colors, eating rainbow colored food, and spending time in great conversation with friends. We wondered about how wise we really were, heading off into the night when temperatures dropped to 20+ below! Sometimes you just have to make the choice to leave your cozy fire, brave the cold and enjoy the gift of gathering.

May this New Year bring hope, love and friends to spend time with. May you be blessed by the living of life and the days to do so. I pray your hearts are warm on the coldest of days and during the bleakest of times.   And may you choose joy in those times and life….every day of the coming year. Blessings to you in the New Year.

 

Today I choose life.
Every morning when I wake up I can choose joy, happiness, negativity, pain…
To feel the freedom that comes from
being able to continue to make mistakes and choices
– today I choose to feel life,
not to deny my humanity but embrace it.
Kevyn Aucoin

Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/kevyn_aucoin_358534?src=t_joy

 

Beauty of the Seasons

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Seasons in the Midwest are so very temporary.  Our weather can change swiftly in a few days….not to mention how it changes in a couple weeks.  A few weeks back there were still leaves on the trees and and when the light of the setting sun landed on those trees it was positively glorious!

My husband came in the house one of those nights and told me I needed to get my camera because the view was beautiful…..he was so right!  The trees glowed in hues of russet and gold and the light seemed to dance across the landscape. (That man has a good eye and I am so glad he shares with me.)

IMG_4829 A Golden Day

The fields are beautiful when they are green and growing but there is something about the golden stubble that carpets the earth once that field has been harvested. Maybe it is the feeling of contentment when that harvest is in and that golden glow is icing on the cake.

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I wandered about, that evening, in awe of the artistry of the Creator. You would think those tones of brown would be rather boring. Instead of boring; they were rich, vibrant and spoke of life. The crisp evening air was an added bonus.

A few days later we had several windy days…very windy days, and the russets and golds were all gone. In it’s place; were bare tree limbs, stretching to the sky….another season was trying to push itself forward.

The last few days have felt more wintry than Fall-like. The other morning we woke to a frosty landscape. It sparkled…it shimmered…it looked like someone had thrown glitter with reckless abandon.

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The morning sun turned those frosty branches into sparkling things of beauty. The intricate crystals were so delicate and fragile. They clung tenaciously to everything till the sun finally won and melted them.

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The fields had lost their golden glow and became a surreal world with a hazy dreamy quality. It was so cold that morning; you could see your breath,  but it was worth braving the cold to enjoy the show.

I started out standing on the porch in my socks, but soon decided I needed to get my shoes on and really experience the brief space of time that frost hung heavy on everything.

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Even  our humble mailbox had been turned into a piece of art. It stood there quietly, like a sentinel guarding the yard….standing proudly in the middle of frost covered grass.

The seasons all seem so fleeting…or maybe it is the beauty of the seasons seems so fleeting. The sun glows on the fall leaves for such a short time before the wind comes to strip the trees bare. The frost clings on branches such a short time before the heat of the sun melts them and the magic seems gone.

Sometimes life can be the same way.  The dreary days seem to last forever. Just when you think the dreary will never quit…. a ray of light shines through and turns the world into a golden fire or a sparkling, glittering showpiece.

I hope this finds you seeing that ray of light. If it doesn’t I pray, the promise of that ray of light feeds your faith and keeps hope alive. May you be blessed in the light and may you be blessed in the waiting for the light. Be assured…..it will come…..and you will see it. And when it does….it will be glorious!

 

“Some moments were golden;
they were designed and orchestrated by an invisible hand,
and they were meant to be more than moments.
They were meant to be memories.” 

― Heather BurchIn the Light of the Garden

 

 

 

 

Overcoming Darkness

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I had planned to use today to take up the quote challenge given to me by Whitney Ibe Blog. In light of events in the UK the best I can offer is a quote from a man of peace. A man who saw the problems of the world and offered the best solution.

He offered a message of love and hope in a world adrift in a sea of hate. He offered a way of peace to conquer the violence. He mirrored Christ when the world wanted to mirror hate. His message is timeless.

I know that I am supposed to nominate someone to take up this 6 day quote challenge. I am going to give this a twist instead. I would like to challenge all of us  to post our favorite quotes on kindness, love, conquering hate….basically your favorite quotes on love casting out fear and good conquering evil.

My prayers are with those grieving at this time. My prayers are with those who encourage this violence….may their hearts be opened to love, may their eyes be opened to the truth of life and may their lives be changed by goodness.

Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.
Romans 12:21
New Living Translation

 

Raspberries!

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Last fall I was given the opportunity to get free raspberry plants from a gal in our church. So I took my spade, 5 gallon buckets and headed over to her place to dig some out. They had a huge patch that they wanted to get rid of as she said they just didn’t use them anymore.

As I wouldn’t know a sugarplum (reference to “Twas The Night Before Christmas” for those who are wondering.) if I fell over one……the visions dancing in my head were of raspberry jam, raspberry smoothies, raspberries on ice cream……..yeah raspberries for many things!

I dug up quite a few canes that afternoon and headed home with my prize.  I put them in a bucket of water like google told me to do; and then my husband spaded up 2 areas for me to plant them. (Out logic was maybe one place they would grow better than the other.) We put them in the ground, put fencing around them to keep out rabbits and watered them some more.

The canes didn’t do anything last year as we put them in quite late in the season. This year when we went to check on them after the snow had melted; we were jolted by the discovery that the rabbits had indeed found them. They had not only found them; they had chewed the canes down to nubs in several places.

I was certain there would be no raspberries coming to my freezer from these plants, no jars of jam and no raspberries on ice cream.  It made me kind of cranky at those rabbits……..actually, it made me real cranky at those rabbits.  You would think, living by the river like we do, there would be plenty for them to chew on without sampling my new raspberry canes!

Just the other day my husband came to the house and told me he thought some of the canes were alive. So we headed out to the two areas where we had planted them and Surprise!!!!! there are canes with leaves on them!  I was so excited to see that some had survived the late planting, winter season and pillaging by renegade rabbits.

I am always amazed at the tenacity of plants. It seems they can hang on through anything. They may be slightly (or a lot) battered by storms and/or pests (yes, I mean rabbits…sorry to my rabbit-loving husband) but a lot of them always seem to pull through and thrive.  There might be a life lesson in there somewhere…..hang on through the storms….better times are coming.

We also got our potatoes in the ground today so I am feeling really fulfilled. We usually try get them in sometime during the Good Friday/Easter weekend. We usually plant the Yukon Gold as we have found them to be very good keepers through the winter and we love the flavor of them when made into mashed potatoes.

Spring is such a great time of rebirth and the greening up of plants. I love the feeling that the earth is coming back to life. I realize that life has always been there, just quietly waiting to be warmed back to life after the cold winter. It brings such hope for those warm summer days, fruitful gardens and full pantries in the fall.

May you have a chance to dig in the dirt, experience the green grass under your feet and enjoy all the “surprise” plants that come back to bless you. May you find hope in the rebirth that is spring and may you be as tenacious as transplants.

“I believe in process.
I believe in four seasons.
I believe that winter’s tough, but spring’s coming.
I believe that there’s a growing season.
And I think that you realize that in life, you grow.
You get better.”
–Steve Southerland


 

Promises of Spring

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The last couple weeks in our area have been dreary, gray, chilly and wet. Today we finally broke out of that pattern and ended up with temps in the 50’s, sun and beautiful weather. It was the perfect day to wander around outside and just suck up some of the wonderful, warm sunshine.

A part of the afternoon was spent, head bent down, searching to see if any little purple violets have decided to make an appearance. I didn’t find any of those, but I did head back for the camera because when I strolled past my flower garden (which at times can also be known as a weed garden) I noticed the little green shoots of my flax plant trying to break through.

I began to dig through some of last years growth and the old leaves and discovered that the sedum, iris, and a few other things were also beginning to pop through the dark wet soil. It did my heart good to see these small promises of spring. It also did my heart good to just be outside and absorb the smells of spring, the sound of birds and the feel of warm sunshine.

I love this time of year…..it is so full of promise. After a long winter (which has it’s own beauty) it is like a revival to see the green shoots of plants and grasses make their way from their winter’s sleep. I am filled with hope when I see those green shoots coming up through the debris of last years plants……hope that life continues even when things looks dreary and dead. Hope of the promise of new life that chooses it’s own time to reveal itself.

My husband pointed out a pair of cardinals that were dancing through the bare trees. Unfortunately, I did not have my camera on hand at that point! The brilliant red was such a contrast to the brown of the bare branches. It reinforced the idea that life has so much beauty so close to what appears to be dead, brittle and ugly.

In looking closer at the branches of a tree in the backyard I discovered that the leaf buds are starting to swell with new life…..another promise in the process of being fulfilled.

Promise of Life

Life, like the swelling buds on the tree is full of hope if you just take the time to search. Sometimes the search is harder than others to find that small grain of hope and life. Sometimes, it seems to take more than one lifetime to see and feel that hope that brings a sweet breath of freshness into your soul.

Hope and Life, like the seasons, are on their own timetable…..they will not be hurried or wished into being. They will arrive at their appointed time and the older I get the more I am finding out……that timetable is perfect. I am also finding out that life without hope is stark and meaningless.  Maybe that is why all the little promises of Spring speak to my heart and soul.  It is a tangible reminder that life wins, hope springs eternal and God is good.

 

For behold, the winter is past;
the rain is over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth,
the time of singing has come,
and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.
Song of Solomon 2:11-12 ESV

 

It’s a Blogiversary

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I cannot really believe it!  I have been blogging for a whole year. My kids had been after me for a long time to try this thing called blogging. Last year when my daughter-in-law, Becca, set this up for me I would have found it hard to imagine that one year later I would have written 163 posts. It has been so much fun.

My husband still shakes his head about this whole blogging endeavor. He’ll ask, “Making any money blogging?” (accompanied by a smirk and a laugh.) I tell him “Nope.”  Then he asks, “So is it kind of like having  pen pals?”  Then I smirk and laugh and tell him “Yep!” I also never dreamed I would meet so many absolutely wonderful people.

Tonight I just reread that first post from January 31, 2016.  I still have some of those same question that I asked back then…..Will anyone really want to read what I have written?  Will people really care what I think?  And the amazing answer is Yes!!!! That fact still boggles my mind.

People will ask me what the main focus of my blog is. I am still not sure how to answer that one and typically grin and tell them it is very random. I tell them it is just a blog of life in general; that covers topics from farming, chickens, gardening, crafting, faith, family and pretty much anything else life throws my way.  Hopefully it is a blog filled with love, humor, hope and encouragement and a few life lessons tossed in.

Back to the people I have met along the way on this blogging journey.  There are so many of you that I would love to meet in person. You are beautiful, honest, down-to-earth, funny, joy filled and life loving, gracious people. You share your lives honestly….the joys and the struggles.  You share the things that make you laugh and cry. You use your life experiences to make others laugh, lift them up and find hope. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking time to like, comment and offer friendship and encouragement to this Chicken Grandma.

I am so looking forward to this coming year of blogging.  I am looking forward to meeting more of you and getting to know what makes up your life. I am hoping to love more, encourage more and bring hope.

Let me know what you want to see over at the Chicken Grandma and I will see what I can do! Like I said it is pretty random over here. Life over here is rather like that box of chocolates that Forrest Gump talked about. You never quite know what you are going to get on any given day.

May your day be filled with hope. May you feel grace from those around you and may you be a blessing in return.

      This is the day that the LORD has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Psalm 118:24

Read more: http://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/bible-verses-about-hope-20-uplifting-scripture-quotes/#ixzz4XUvN5XL0

 

 

I Am One

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So much hate, so much destruction brought on by hate, so much hate inspired by fear. We wonder what we can do.to change the world and then we realize we can’t.  So we wonder what we should do …… at least I wonder.

Out of that wondering came the thought that I am only one person and how does one person successfully affect the world. How does one person change things for the better? How does one person make everyone feel like they matter?  And then I realize one person can’t; but God can.

 

I am One
I am one woman
I have one voice
I am not a million in a march
I am not a thousand, a hundred, ten or even two
I am one.
I am not famous or noteworthy
I am only one
I cannot make someone care ….. but I can care
I cannot force someone to have compassion….but I can have compassion
I can reach out to those who don’t agree with me.
I cannot make them reach back….but I can still reach out.
I can pray for those who choose a different path than me
I cannot change them….it is not mine to change….only to pray
I can have faith, I can have hope
I can love in the face of hate
I am one voice
I am one woman
I am one
And God will make it enough.

 

And that is all I have. 1 Corinthians just says it so much better than I can.

 

13 If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13
New International Version (NIV)