Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Simplicity Sounds So Simple...

Simplicity sounds simple, but the simple truth is that simplicity is very complex.  Life seems to get complicated in a hurry.  If you're like me, you have more "to do" things on your list than you will ever finish.  Even if you manage to complete the chores, you just make another list.  There seems to always, always, always be more to do!  As if my "to do" list wasn't enough, I have several weekly commitments to keep, and then there are the appointments to keep, and then there are calls from others to go here or there, do this or that.  I don't have a "job" since retiring, but there are things that must be done regularly, every day that take time and energy.  In addition to all that, many have job requirements of forty (or more) hours each week, further complicating the schedule.

Sometimes it's a juggling act, and I've become a pretty good juggler!  Which reminds me of my friend.  At Heatilator, Connie and I were together most of the time, and while working one night, the conversation somehow went to juggling.  I told Connie that I could juggle, and in fact was quite good at it.  Connie believed that I was talking about the type of juggling that keeps three balls in the air at the same time.  I purposely led her to believe that, but in reality, I was actually talking about juggling through life in general.  Being one who loves a challenge, Connie went home after work, and learned to juggle that day.  Connie's mind-set is "anything you can do, I can do as well" so, when she came back to work the next night, she was able to juggle.  I love that story, and I love Connie, but let me get back to my simple thoughts.

I'm beginning to believe that I was designed for simple life.  I'm thinking that perhaps all of us yearn for the simplicity of the original plan.  I certainly do.  If you recall, God created Adam and Eve and placed them in a beautiful garden where He met them "in the cool of the day".  They walked and talked with God.  God provided for their every need, and it was simply wonderful!  But, that didn't last long!

I've been thinking about the things that complicate life and cause chaos.  I'm also thinking about how I can avoid those complications and return to the original plan.  From the things I've been reading, I've gained a few ideas to foster simplicity in me.

1. I will choose to be committed to a previously agreed rule.
          I commit to our marriage.  I won't consider divorce, or be shopping around for a new man!
          I'll be in church Sunday morning.  No need to decide what to do.  It's already decided.
          I choose not to play internet games.  (that time can be spent pursuing more worthwhile things)
These are not "rules" exactly, but choices I've made that I feel are important to be consistently made.  By maintaining a commitment to these choices, I've taken out the variables and eliminated the need to continually decide what to do each time I'm faced with an option. 

2. Learn to say NO as well as YES.   Sometimes, I take on a job or project just because to say no might make someone think less of me.  When I agree to do something just because I didn't want to say no, it becomes a drudgery.  Saying yes when I should say no creates chaos.  I'm not giving myself permission to say NO to everything.  Sometimes, though, I need to say no.  I should not commit to anything simply because to say no would disappoint another, or cause another to think less of me.  On the same note, when I say YES, it should be a solid, reliable YES.  Both are totally acceptable answers. 

3. Obey God.  This probably should have been #1 on this list.  This is exactly where Adam and Eve lost their perfect life in the garden.  The minute they disobeyed God's instructions, complications began.  They needed clothes.  They didn't want God to see them, so they hid. The Blame Game started and excuses were born. Obedience is most likely the number one way to simplify life, but it's certainly not always easy! 

I've read a book called "A Place Called Simplicity" by Claire Cloninger.  After reading that, I started reading Richard Foster's "Freedom of Simplicity".  Simplicity sounds sweet.  Simplicity sounds so simple, but in reality, simplicity is a complex concept and simply not easily achieved!  I'm on a journey toward simplicity. 

This yearning [for simplicity] can become a belief that becomes an attitude or a mindset that leads to a series of small choices that impel a series of small changes in the way we do things.  And it is these small changes that finally (if diligently clung to) can begin to become a lifestyle.    Claire Cloninger "A Place Called Simplicity" p. 26

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Our "Anniversary Trip" ... Wonderful!

I'm going to do my best to share our wonderful weekend, but I know I won't do it justice.  Sometimes you just can't "retell" all the emotion and excitement of an event, and this is one of those times. 
We left home Friday morning without the usual stress of being on the road at a specified time!  That may seem a small thing to many, but to me it's huge!  Normally, by the time I get in the car and we are on the road it takes about twenty miles to settle down and start enjoying the ride!  This time, we had no rush, no racing around trying to make sure everything was done and nothing forgotten.  Great start.
We stopped in Cedar Rapids for breakfast, and when we left there it was raining.  It rained the entire rest of the day!  In fact, we didn't know it until later, but several places just to the west of Des Moines received 7-9" of rain! In spite of the rain and poor visibility, we made good time and arrived in Clear Lake just after noon.  We were able to check into our room early, and then we went to the Surf Ballroom.  We spent over an hour just looking at pictures and reading articles about the history of the place, as well as all the stories about Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J.P."The Big Bopper" Richardson.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and found it to be most interesting.

Later, we met my friend, Connie.  It was because of Connie's thoughtful gift that we made this trip.  She sent Dennis a T-shirt and a souvenir book of an upcoming event in nearby Forest City.  The event was called Operation LZ and the purpose of the event was to give Vietnam veterans a proper "welcome home" and thank them for their service.  But, I'm getting ahead of my story.  Anyway, Connie and I met when we worked at Heatilator, back in 1986.  We worked well together, in fact really enjoyed working together and became friends in spite of job changes and relocations.  We don't see each other often, but I still count her as a very good friend.  So, we enjoyed spending Friday evening with Connie.
Saturday morning we drove the short distance to Forest City for the Operation LZ event.  We arrived fairly early and learned that they wanted veterans to register.  So, making our way to the registration area, we were impressed with the venue, and the number of volunteers.  I believe the place was called Heritage Park, and it was 91 acres in size.  It was huge! 
At the registration tent, Dennis was given a commemorative medal, a "thank you for your service", and a big hug from a very attractive lady.  Already, he's enjoying this event!  They then asked him to write his name on a huge map of Vietnam. He was to write it in the location where he served.  He was also given a free meal ticket. 
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall (replica) was there.  It's hard to express the feelings that wall evokes.  For the first several minutes, we just looked at it, speechless. I tried to get a picture, but it's so big I couldn't get it all even using the panoramic setting.  There were folks there to help locate names of those we knew who had given the ultimate sacrifice.  I was in high school when my friend's brother was killed in Vietnam.  There are 58,491 names on that wall! 
Dennis points to Billy Marlin's name

The best moment of the day came after we'd just randomly wandered into a big tent.  While we were looking at the things on display, a young lady approached Dennis and asked if he'd received an official commendation and thank you from the Department of Defense.  She very sincerely thanked him for his sacrifice and service, and she pinned a lapel pin on him commending him for his service.  I'm not an emotional pushover, but that really brought the tears to my eyes and put a big lump in my throat! 

We listened to several different speakers, each one specifically thanking Vietnam veterans for their service.  All of them were Vietnam veterans, and they were sometimes entertaining, sometimes inspiring, and always very interesting.  I don't recall the names of the speakers, except for Governor Branstadt, but I do remember one had spent seven years in the "Hanoi Hotel" as a POW.  Seven years!  Can't imagine!  The audience was huge.  I wish we knew how many were there.  I'd guess several thousand people.  The photo shows a lot of the folks seated in front of us.  There were about as many standing  as were seated. 

There was also an Air Show, music by Rocky Lynne, and a whole lot more.  It was a wonderful day!  We're so glad Connie thought of Dennis and sent him that package!  Had she not, we'd have missed out.  So, Connie....if you're reading this, thank you!

Sunday we headed west to Spencer.  I finally got to meet Terry and Jacquie Heinrichs.

Dennis and Terry served together in Vietnam as part of the 199th LIB.  There's a special bond or brotherhood for men who serve together.  We enjoyed visiting and sharing a meal with Terry and Jacquie.  Dennis and Terry reminisced while looking through a photo album together.  It was the perfect way to end a very special weekend!  Our drive home was uneventful, and as much fun as it was, it's always good to get home!  

Saturday, August 08, 2015

August Update

Summer is passing much too fast!  With all the rain we've had, the lawn mowing hasn't let up at all!  Beefy and the girls have had plenty of pasture grass and we've not had to supplement their diet with hay.  Usually by the end of July the grass is pretty well burned up, but not this year! 

We had a great vacation with family in the Ozarks.  We shared some great times, and some of our group also shared a virus.  We had two kids sick the second day, and then one or two different ones every day after.  I think there were a total of 12 who got sick while we were there.  In spite of that, I think everyone had a good time. 

Dennis especially enjoyed skiing with Travis. 

The garden was a total failure this season.  Even the pepper plants failed to produce a crop.  The only thing we planted that actually came up and matured were the zinnias.  They've been blooming profusely and are very pretty.  I'm planning to till it all up again and plant some fall crops.  Maybe we'll grow something yet!

We've been cutting the low hanging limbs of trees all around our property.  It's nice to mow without dodging those branches that used to slap me in the face.  We're really thankful to have had the use of a pole saw. 

We'll be celebrating our anniversary soon!  Forty-four years ago we were married.  I remember it rained early in the day and then the sun came out.  It was very hot and humid for our candlelight service at Melrose Church, which did not have air conditioning at the time! 

August 20, 1971

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Happy Independence Day!

Last night we enjoyed the Midwest Academy fireworks display from Travis and Gail's yard.  They always have a good show, and we enjoyed it with family and friends.  We left Rusty at home, inside, with the television blaring, hoping it would keep him from hearing the big booms.  Last year he ran off and was gone for four days!  We didn't want a repeat.  He seemed to have enjoyed watching the Fox News channel, but was very happy to see us return.

We had a little visitor this morning.  Gariann and Valerie participated in the 5K run in town, so Kayla stayed here and entertained us.  She helped with numerous chores.  We washed grapes, took out the trash, and she decided to sweep the deck.  She also wanted to love on Rusty, but he's not much on hugs.  When Kayla started sweeping, Rusty left.  When the sweeping was done, she went looking for the dog, and found him under the porch  She squatted down, looked up at me and said, " I think Rusty is mad at me". 

I think Rusty is mad at me.
We also played a lot.  We read I Spy, played piano and sang chicken songs.  She ate a few of the grapes we washed, and a chicken salad sandwich.  She played with the Thomas the Train set for quite a while, and she petted the fawn, coyote, and skunk.  I know she had a good time with us, but she was still overjoyed to see her Mommy and Grandma return. 

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Coyotes vs. Deer

Coyotes won. 

I don't know when they actually made the kill, but saw at least three coyotes working on the carcass.  While tugging and pulling it apart, they eventually moved it behind a big tree so we were no longer able to observe.  However, the buzzards are observing.  Two of them have already landed in one of the big trees.  I have seen eagles chase coyotes away from their fresh kill, but don't know if these buzzards are hungry enough to take on this bunch. 
Of course, I feel bad for the deer, and hope it isn't leaving an orphan fawn!  But, coyotes are coyotes, and they too must eat.  Around here sometimes it's like watching National Geographic.  Or Marlin Perkins, on Wild Kingdom.  Wow!  That's really dating me!  Anyone reading this remember the Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom with host Marlin Perkins?

Friday, May 29, 2015

May Days

Only two days left of May 2015!  Can't believe how quickly the days pass.  It's true, the older you get, the faster time seems to fly!  We often hear young people say "I can't wait until...(whatever)".  I remember even saying so myself!  I couldn't wait to turn sixteen so I could get a driver's license!  Now, at my ripe old age, I don't care to rush to the next stage.  I'm just thankful for every day.

None of us know which day will be our last here, but it's true that each day I live brings me closer to the end.  That's true for all of us, regardless of our age.  All of us will pass from this life into eternity.  I'm so thankful for the saving grace of my Lord, Jesus Christ.  He was born to die, so that through Him, I can live....forever!  That almost sounds like the Christmas song, Ring the Bells.  Maybe Christmas thoughts seem out of place in May, but to me, Christmas (Jesus' birth) is the beginning point of God's plan to redeem His people.  For God so loved, that He gave His only Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life! 

 We've certainly been staying busy.  Dennis has spent every morning for the past two or three weeks hauling rock home.  We have about a mile of "roadway" to maintain on our property.  Travis has also been hauling rock for his own long lane, but he delivered a big load to us one day too. 

 Rusty is always around, overseeing every job, and keeping watch over the place.

The birds are a constant source of enjoyment.  We keep feed out through the summer as well as winter.  These bluebirds (or a pair just like them) raise a family in this same box every year.  We enjoy watching them feed their young and teach the fledglings to fly.  We have numerous other boxes, but this one seems to be the favorite.  Fortunately for me, it's also nearest to the house and perfectly situated for viewing from my office window.

Here's a little "bluebird" of a different variety!  That would be Wyatt, off the rope and diving into the water.
Over the Memorial Day weekend we enjoyed having friends over for a cookout one evening, and family for the afternoon on Monday.  Everyone seemed to enjoy the food, fellowship and fun on the rope swing in spite of the uncooperative weather. 

We've had an abundance of rainfall!  The garden isn't looking so great, but the grass continues to grow, so I mow.  I've seen several reptiles.  I don't mind the turtles, but I hate snakes!  We believe we have a fawn somewhere nearby.  One afternoon, as I was coming down the lane, I saw Rusty following me as he usually does.  However, as he came through the wooded portion of his trail, I saw a deer.  Normally, the deer run when Rusty comes through, but this one actually stood it's ground.  Rusty thought it was playing the way he does with our cows, but this deer eventually convinced Rusty to move on....quickly.  I'd never seen anything quite like that before, and I can only assume that somewhere in that area is a hidden fawn.

Well, that's it for this time.  Enjoy the day!

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Have I Ever Mentioned...

I love where we live!  I'm so thankful for our home.  We moved to this property in September 1981. 
I love living in the heartland.  I enjoy the seasons....sometimes two or three seasons all in the same day.  It's an actual fact that I have, on numerous occasions, ran the air conditioner and the furnace on the same day.  Admittedly, it's not the norm, but it happens.  I enjoy being right in the middle of the United States.  We're far enough away from the rat-race in the big cities, yet an easy drive to just about anywhere between the Rocky Mountains and the Smoky Mountains.
More specifically, I love the location of our home!  We're close enough to town for convenience, yet remotely located enough to not hear the traffic.  This afternoon I took my coffee out to the deck after mowing the yard.  It was so peaceful.  Not quiet, but peaceful.  I heard birds of many kinds.  Closest, and loudest were the wrens nesting in a box on the deck rail.  I heard robins, cardinals, orioles, chickadees, towhees, and tree frogs singing.  At a distance, I could hear red winged blackbirds, a woodpecker pecking, doves cooing, and way off I heard crows cawing. 
Looking around, I saw cows grazing in the pasture, a squirrel flipping it's tail on the gate near the pond, bluebirds, nuthatches, a bumblebee, and a pair of brown thrashers in the honeysuckle bush.  I also saw robins, orioles, cardinals, chickadees, wrens, goldfinches, and many other birds. 
I could smell the freshly mowed grass, and the scent of the sweet little flowers on the cardinal bushes.
What I did NOT hear---highway traffic, barking dogs, wind, thunder, mowers running...I heard none of that!
Yes, it was a most pleasant time sipping my coffee out on the deck today.  I am so thankful for our home!

Friday, May 08, 2015

Spring Green

View from my office window this morning.  Everything is green and growing!  Our garden ... too wet to work today!
There's light rain falling today, which will add to the 4.2" rainfall we've already received over the past two days.  Our pond was at a very low level until the rain.  It's now full, and will likely be running over after today.  I've been in it, just to check the water temperature.  It was cool, but refreshing, not too cold!

Before the big rains, we planted peas (my favorite) and two rows of bush beans.  The peas are up and looking good.  We're still waiting to see the beans sprout.

Between the thunderstorms and gully washing rains, the sun was hot and the humidity high.  The calves stayed cool in the shed.  We have four heifers and one steer.  I call them Beefy and the girls.  We've had them since they were weaned.  They keep the pasture mowed for us.
Beefy is the big one in the middle. 

 Since school dismissed classes for five consecutive days over the Easter holiday, Zach, Wyatt and I went on a cruise.  We drove to New Orleans, boarded the Serenade of the Seas and cruised to the Bahamas.  We enjoyed perfect weather and had a great time.  I'm posting just a few of the pictures from our trip.
Our first meal on board...lunch at the Windjammer Cafe



The line was two blocks long to stand beside this landmark for a picture, so we hopped up on the wall and snapped this, then rode around in our electric car.

Our transportation while in Key West.  Zach drove us all over town.

We left home on Good Friday, boarded the ship on Saturday, and got home the following Saturday night.  The boys would like to have our whole family go on a cruise together next winter.  I'm all for that!

Yesterday, just before the big afternoon thunderstorm, Dennis and I straightened up the light pole that was leaning.  Actually, he'd already dug around it to allow room to straighten it up.  All I did was help pull it in the right direction, and then shovel the dirt back into the hole while he tamped it.  I intended to get a before and after photo, but just as we were finishing up, the rain came.  Heavy rain with lightning.  I didn't try to get a picture of the finished project at the time! I went back to get a picture later.

Another "project" we'll be working on later is cleaning up the creek crossing.  When ever we get enough rain to cause Sugar Creek to run full or flood, it backs up our little creek.  When the water goes down, it leaves lots of sand and mud sediment, which makes our "Missouri crossing" impassable. Actually, I did drive through it on the four wheeler in four wheel drive, but the tractor and baler won't make it through, nor will my mower. I haven't done any mowing around the back field yet, and won't until the crossing fixed.

 June 9 update: The Missouri crossing is fixed.  Now I can mow the back trails. 

The Sweet Williams have been blooming all over our place.  Of course, they are blooming all over the tri-state area, but I particularly enjoy seeing them here.
As I was going through the back pasture, I noticed holes drilled in a tree.  Who or what does this?  It's not a dead tree, but it might be soon if it keeps getting holes drilled into the trunk!
Well, it's still raining, so I'm going to get ready to run into town and do the shopping and errands that need to be done.  To me, the perfect days are those days in which I never have to pass through our gate!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

I'm Learning That....

  • Being wise is better than being rich.
  • Wisdom and money can get you almost anything, but only wisdom can save your life.
  • Criticism from a wise person is better than praise from a fool.
  • Anger is the friend of fools.
  • Finishing is better than starting.
  • Wisdom will multiply your days and add years to your life
Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Knowledge of the Holy One results in understanding.
--- Proverbs 9:10
So, what does "fear of the Lord" mean?  I've been pondering it for a while, and I believe it could be comparable to a fear of fire.  I'm not afraid of fire, because I understand (at least a little) it's power and also it's nature.  If I'm sitting around a campfire, contained within a fire ring, I have no fear of it.  I like to sit near it and enjoy the warmth, the light it gives, and even utilize the heat to roast wieners or toast marshmallows. It's restful, relaxing and makes a very cozy atmosphere. 
However, one day, there were dry leaves too near the flame, and the fire left the containment of the ring.  It spread quickly and grew in intensity, consuming everything in its path.  Fortunately, I was able to regain control, but not before burning up about 4 acres.  I can assure you that I had great fear of that fire!  I knew it could get into our neighbor's bean field and ruin his crop, or go as far as the house and consume our home!
So, I would say, yes....I have a "fear" of fire.  I know what it can do!  Now, I don't sit around worrying about fire, but I do respect fire and act accordingly.
I think it is a little like that to "fear the Lord".  I'm not afraid of Him, because I know He loves me.  I know He is good, merciful, forgiving, and  gracious.  Yet, I also know that He is just, jealous, omnipotent, and does not tolerate sin. 
Hebrews 12:28b-29  .....Let us be thankful and please God by worshiping Him with holy fear and awe.  For our God is a consuming fire.
So, I hope I'm developing wisdom.  I've started, which is good, but as stated above, it's better to finish. 
I want to finish well!

Karen Peck and New River Song:
Click to listen:
Finish Well

There will come a day
I know without a doubt
Around the throne the saints will bow
And lay down every crown
How glorious that moment
To see Him face to face
To hear Him say "well done my child"
You've finished your race
But for now the sun's still rising
There's work to still be done
While we're waiting for the promise
Of what is yet to come.

Finish well
Every day that we are given
Finish well
For the glory of His name
Finish strong
Until the Savior finally calls us home
Give it everything we have
Finish well.

There's no truth in saying
We've seen our better days
These are the days to be courageous
Bold and full of faith
So wherever He may lead us
Whatever it may cost
Let the Church arise and lift
The banner of the cross.

Finish well
Every day that we are given
Finish well
For the glory of His name
Finish strong
Until the Savior finally calls us home
Give it everything we have
Finish well
Finish well
Finish well
Finish well…

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Secret to A Long Life...

A tough old cowboy once counseled his grandson that if he wanted to live a long life, the secret was to sprinkle a little gunpowder on his oatmeal every morning. The grandson did this faithfully and he lived to the ripe old age of 93. When he died he left 14 children, 28 grandchildren, 35 great grandchildren, and a fifteen-foot hole in the wall of the crematorium. 

I laughed the first time a read that story, and again today when I saw it again.  Although the cowboy's secret is pretty funny, I know the true secret to longevity.  It's found in the Bible.  Two particularly come to my mind at the moment:

My child, keep your father's commands and do not forsake your mother's teaching.  Bind them upon your heart forever.  Fasten them around your neck.  When you walk, they will guide you, when you sleep they will watch over you, when you wake they will speak to you. These commands are a lamp, these teachings a light, and the corrections of discipline are the way to life.     Proverbs 6:20-23

 Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, that your days may be long and that it may go well with you ...         Deuteronomy 5:16

It makes good sense to me that we would all live better and longer if we'd honor our parents and listen and heed their teaching and instructions.  That's assuming that parents fulfilled their responsibility to train up their children, I guess.  Mine did!  And, I'm very thankful!  Of course, none of us is guaranteed tomorrow.  We don't know how many years we'll have here on the earth, but when my life here is over, I'll be living in a different place.  We are all eternal beings, and will either live forever in eternal hell, or eternal life in heaven. Thanks to Jesus Christ, His sacrificial death and shed blood to atone for MY sin, I will live forever with Him in heaven.  I've decided to trust Jesus...just as my mother and father taught me!  

All have sinned and fallen short .... The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ....for it is by grace through faith that you are saved...not a result of works, so that no one can boast...God so loved that He gave His only Son so that whoever believes should not perish, but have everlasting life....      Romans 3:23  Romans 6:23  Ephesians 2:8-9  John 3:16

So, if you're interested in longevity, try Jesus!