Beginnings or Endings

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The sunsets we have been having lately have been absolutely stunning. They are a mix of purples, blues, pinks…bright turquoise, oranges and yellows. There are times the sky looks like it is on fire.

It is like God is giving us a gift and making the cold days of winter beautiful in His own way. It is a wonderful way to end a day by walking out to put the girls in for the night. It is food for the soul to stand outside in the quiet and watch with awe the display that is dusk.

This time of year there  is a quiet beauty. The greens of growing things are gone, but the dazzling display that is sunset, more than makes up for the loss of greens. The cold of the air doesn’t have the perfume of summer flowers but has it’s own scent that proclaims winter……and it is wonderful.

Sometimes it is difficult to tell where the ending of the day begins or the beginning of the ending starts. The wind dies down, the winter birds grow silent, and the sky becomes tinged with pink.

There is a hush in this space of time between day and night. The air is crisp, as only winter days can be. It is a delight for the senses and I am amazed every time I get to enjoy that time.

So much of life is like that space of time. So many times an ending is just a beginning. Last week I went to my last physical therapy visit!! While that was a definite ending it was, for me, the beginning of knowing that I am, for the most part, better.( I still have to do the balance things at home and check in with them in three months.)

We are in the middle of winter and yet the beginnings of spring are starting to show up. Seed catalogs have started arriving and to me that says warmer days are not far behind. I know there will be some snowstorms yet this season but, somewhere in this time frame is the overlap of living in winter but preparing for Spring.

Maybe this is where hope comes in. The kind of hope that is not just wishful thinking but the hope that is expectation and assurance. There is an expectation that Spring will surely follow Winter. There is the expectation that before that there will be more snow and cold weather.

While we wait for those warmer days let us enjoy the day that is now. Let us realize that the beginnings and endings of things most often are somehow tangled together and it is okay.

May you be blessed with beautiful sunsets that end this day and begin the new one.

 

“The end is never the end.
It’s always the the beginning of something.”

― Kate Lord Brown,
The Perfume Garden

Winter Has Arrived on Time

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This year winter seems to have actually taken a look at the calendar and agreed to abide by what it says. We had unseasonably warm weather right up until December 21. On that day, the first day of winter, the temperature dropped, the wind picked up and it started to snow.

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I really like my seasons to work out in such a tidy fashion…..usually they do not. I will have to confess that I really did hope for a white Christmas. A gentle white Christmas snow….not the horizontal type that sometimes seems to visit our part of the country….and this snow totally fit my idea of a Christmas season snowfall.

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There is beauty in the still, whiteness that snow seems to bring. There is an odd excitement in the “bite” that is in the air as I go outside to take care of the girls. Maybe it is just a primitive reaction to the elements…I am not totally sure what it is, but at this point in the year I am okay with it. I have a feeling that come the middle of February that excitement is going to be long gone!

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I enjoy looking out my patio door and seeing the smoke rise from the chimney on the old milk house. My husband hangs out there in the winter and gets it cozy warm by stoking up a wood stove. I think that milk house is his version of a man cave.

A few years ago my husband took our grandson out to the milk house with him. At that time our grandson was 3. My husband offered him peanuts in the shell. James politely refused. My husband shelled the peanuts for him thinking that might be the issue. Again….a polite refusal. My husband tried one more time and finally James told him that he did not like peanuts…..monkeys ate peanuts.

Later that year our son was out for a walk with James and they were finding acorns. My son asked him where they came from and was told from trees.  Then our son asked him where peanuts came from…..he received a very enthusiastic answer on that one. He was told, “Peanuts come from Grandpa!”

I begin to wonder if I love those first snowfalls because they bring back those fun memories of holidays with the family. Time spent with loved ones can be some of the best times. Family is truly a gift.

Those first snowfalls bring a quietness and stillness to the end of a busy day. Standing outside after locking the girls in for the night, feeling the sting of the cold on my face, and smelling the fresh winter air brings a calm to my soul.

There is a hush in that space of time in between day and night…..a silence broken only by the call of a screech owl in the grove, the lonely sounding cry of geese, the rustle of my chickens settling in for the night,  and the distant sound of a train whistle.

It is a wonderful time for reflection. It is a time to realize that there is an order to this life and to the seasons. They arrive at the perfect time every year. There is comfort in that fact and it brings a contentment to the soul to know that someone bigger than me orchestrates this life.

May you be blessed this Christmas season and may you be a blessing to those around you. May your soul find stillness and contentment in the busyness and may you have time to stand outside and let the beauty seep deep into your bones.

Winter, a lingering season, is a time to gather golden moments,
embark upon a sentimental journey, and enjoy every idle hour.
John Boswell

 

 

 

Change of Seasons

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The calendar tells me it is the first day of fall……the temperature tells me we are stuck in the middle of summer!  We had temperatures in the 90’s today with humidity that literally sucked the energy right out of your body. I am in full agreement with whoever came up with the phrase, “It’s not the heat….it’s the humidity.”

It is easy to tell that we are in the middle of September when you look at the trees. When my husband and I were sitting on the porch yesterday we felt like we were being rained on….by locust leaves. The little yellow leaves just kept floating down onto the porch, the ground and it didn’t take long and we would have a leaf landing on us.

If you listen closely you can hear the rustle of dry leaves from the trees in the gully and from the corn and soybeans in the field. It is a sound distinctive to fall.

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About the only green thing around here would be the weeds and the lawn. It is hard to imagine that just a few weeks ago our lawn was brown and crispy. I was sure it was dead and that we were done mowing for the season….and then it started to rain.

I must confess I do like to see the green again. I am not quite ready to give up summer for what I know will be the cold of winter. We did end up mowing again this week.

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I told my husband that when you can rake windrows in your lawn after mowing, it was high time to mow it! I spent some time gathering up the dry grass to feed to the chickens later this year…when the lawn is actually dead. They love to feast on the fine blades of grass and it will be a wonderful treat when snow is on the ground.

It seems this time of year is spent preparing for the coming winter. Waterways get baled, grass gets stored for chicken feed, garden produce is put up and preserved for future meals, and soon we will hear the sound of combines in the fields and corn dryers running.

It seems like a frantic pace during this season. Perhaps it is because we know time is getting short to get all those tasks done.  It sometimes feels like there are not enough hours in a day…but I am glad when night comes because I am tired!

It has been so busy lately that we didn’t really notice exactly when the birds all disappeared. One morning we were sitting outdoors and noticed how quiet it was. No longer were the swallows swooping about snatching bugs from midair. The robin nests were empty and there wasn’t a wren to be heard.

The birds, or lack of them, are a pretty good indicator of the seasons.  The loud choir of birds in the morning has changed to the quiet rustling of drying leaves. The lushness of summer is quickly giving way to the golds and browns of fall.

Our lives tend to mirror the changing seasons. Some days feel like we are in the midst of the busyness of fall. Other times we feel like we are in the lazy days of summer. And then there are those times in our lives that we feel the sting of those cold days of winter. There is a beauty to each season and it is good to keep our eyes and hearts open to that beauty.

May you take time to enjoy the beauty of this fall season. May you be blessed whatever season of life you are in. And may you be comforted with the thought that if you are in a difficult season….it will change.

The question, “Which is the happiest season of life?”
was asked of an aged man.

And he replied: “When spring comes, and in the soft air the buds are breaking
on the trees, and they are covered with blossoms,
I think, ‘How beautiful is spring’;

and when summer comes and covers the trees with its heavy foliage,
and singing birds 
are among the branches,
I think, ‘How beautiful is summer.’
When autumn loads them

with golden fruit, and their leaves bear the gorgeous tint of frost,
I think, ‘How 
beautiful is autumn.’
And when it is severe winter, and there is neither foliage nor

fruit, then I look up through the leafless branches as I never could
until now, and see the stars shine in God’s home.

unattributed

 

The seasons are what a symphony ought to be:
four perfect movements in harmony with each other.

Artur Rubenstein

Celebrating Creation

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If it weren’t for the rocks in its bed, the stream would have no song.
Carl Perkins

Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/c/carlperkin183313.html?src=t_stream

Everywhere I look I see the proclamation that Earth Day is coming soon. I thought I should google it (cause that is what I do when I want to find out something) and learned it is coming this Saturday, April 22!

I started looking through some photos and found some that I really like, that speak the beauty of God’s creation to me. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. Half of the fun of looking through old photos you have taken is all the memories that come back with those pictures.

I was first going to use photos that I had taken on vacations and then I decided I should find the ones, that I love, that showcase the beauty that is in the area where I live.

Flowers are something I love and these yellow flowers were a perennial given to me as a small “start” by a friend, many years ago. Their spikes with the yellow blooms are wonderfully cheerful in my flower garden.

“Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. Luke 12:27

I also love to take photos of flowers…..though they are never as pretty as the actual thing.

All the seasons in our area have a different type of beauty. Winter can be cold and bleak around here, but there is a pristine, quietness about the landscape when it snows and freezes. There is a stillness that lends itself to a time of ponderings and dreams.

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“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.”

[Meditations Divine and Moral]”
Anne Bradstreet, The Works of Anne Bradstreet   

There is also a beauty when the leaves are turning yellow and orange. The air has a certain smell of fading leaves, the faint hint of wood smoke from campfires and dirt as farmers get the crops out of the fields. It is busy…but it brings a satisfaction of preparing for the cold of the coming months.

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“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”
Albert Camus

At the end of the day. there are times when the moon is full and you can just sit on the porch and enjoy the quiet of the night time while that perfect ball shines down on you. Coyotes howl in the distance, birds rustle in the trees, and the world has settled down for a little rest.

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Like the moon it shall be established forever, a faithful witness in the skies.” Selah
Psalm 89:37

 

Life can be so good! God is so faithful and I am so grateful. May you have time to ponder this coming weekend. I hope you have time to stop and look around at the beauty that is in your own backyard. And may you find rest and hope in the beauty the Creator has given. Enjoy the blessing.

“There are some places so beautiful
they can make a grown man break down and weep.”

Edward Abbey, The Monkey Wrench Gang   

 

 

The Winter Season

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The last days have suddenly made the month of December real….weather-wise. We had been having unseasonably warm temperatures (and I was good with that). We are now having cooler than normal temps for this time of year. (Things change quickly!)

Our children had snow where they live so we know winter is on it’s way. My heart and mind are ready for the festive part of this season…..my mind and body are not ready for the weather that accompanies it.

In protest of the sudden drop into the deep freeze I am posting a couple of my favorite summer photos. They were taken in a city park not far from here. It is one of my favorite places to go and just walk around.  When our sons were small we used to take them there to go fishing.

I digress…..back to the reality that is……cold Iowa weather. There is a small comfort that we are only getting wind…it could be snow with wind this time of year…or worse yet….ice.

My husband had been to a consignment auction the beginning of this week.  That day the weather was not too bad. Today when we went to go pick up his lone purchase the wind was a lazy wind….the kind that blows right through you rather than around you. The consignment auction site is basically an alfalfa field. There are no trees to stop the vicious wind and the corn stubble in the next field is no help at all.

The one consolation with the cold wind was seeing the flocks of geese that finally decided it was time to go south. The last two days have seen large flocks of Canadians, snows and blues flying in big V’s over our place.  This brought to mind one of my dad’s favorite questions regarding geese and one you can ask your kids and grandkids. (I would be surprised if they knew the answer.)

Question: When geese are flying in a V formation why is one line always longer than the other?
Answer:   Because there are more geese in it.
(This joke, years ago, actually got one of my sons out of taking a science test in high school.  The teacher challenged them to ask her a science type question that she couldn’t answer….it worked!)

I think I love the geese flying over because they sometimes go right over our house. When they are flying low you can even hear them honking.  I wonder what they are saying as they hurry by, anxious to get to their destination. Some days the wind seems to be blowing them along and other days I wonder how they manage to make any headway against it.

Some days are like that….going with the wind and others feel like a struggle as things just seem to push you back to where you started. I guess a lesson from the geese could be learned…..keep flying and focusing on where you are going. Some days may take you longer…but you will get there.

Their honking has a lonesome wild sound to it that touches someplace deep inside. I am not sure if that sound hits me because it sounds so wild or if it sounds like a promise. It tells me that the seasons are running according to the order set in place at the beginning of this earth. It speaks of the constancy of certain things in life.

So many things can change and spin around in this world and turn life upside down; but the geese will still fly south when the weather turns wintry and they will return in the spring. They are as constant as grass turning green, wind blowing in Iowa and snow melting in the spring.

I love the promise that comes with the seasons. I love the order God built into this ball called Earth. I do know I appreciate spring and summer a lot more because of going through a cold winter season and maybe that is why we go through those seasons.

I also know that once the geese are done flying for this migration;  I will be scanning the sky when the spring thaw comes and I will be looking for their return. Such is the blessing of hope.

 

You have established all the boundaries of the earth;
You have made summer and winter.
Psalm 74:17