I love spring! It’s so exciting to see the new life appearing after 5-6 months of our Midwest winters. I’m always amazed at the strength and brilliance of the tiniest of flowers that emerge so powerfully through the coldest and darkest of soils. What a beautiful reminder of the hope we can all cling to when we feel we don’t have a voice, when our circumstances are too dark, when we are frozen, entrapped, alone. Yet, the One in charge is indeed in charge. He can bring every situation into victory and success, even when we feel there can’t possibly be a positive outcome at the time.

“You will be secure, because there is hope; you will look about you and take your rest in safety.” Job 11:18

I love cowkids

Why cowkids? A sales rep asked me about my business name the other day posing the question “Do you love cows? Or do you love kids?” Hmm, I quickly replied…”I love cows AND I love kids.” And I love their way of life.

I love cowboys. I love cowgirls. I love horses and cattle and rodeos and farms. I love the western way of life. I love the smell of a horse barn. I love watching farmers at harvest time. I love the atmosphere of a county fair beef show. I love watching children interact with livestock. Their simplicity and innocence captivate me.

And it’s a good thing.

To everything there is a season

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

Ecclesiastes 3 (King James Version)

Fall in the Midwest…one of my favorite times of the year.  I so thoroughly enjoy the colors, the smells, the crispness.  I can’t soak up enough of the hues of reds and oranges and yellows and browns.  I cannot resist a leaf pile.  I especially love the days where the sky is so incredibly blue that you get lost in it.  You can’t help but lay down on the crunchy leaves and gaze into the endless sky while the autumn sun kisses your face.  Sweatshirt weather, bonfire season, harvest moons, football games, hiking trips, Sunday drives… ahhhh I love, love, love fall.

And then it comes to an end.

The days get shorter.  The trees become bare.  The windows close.  The farmers are out of the fields.  The Harleys are hibernating.  The deer are moving.  The geese are flying.  The ice-scrapers are put in vehicles.  The winter clothes come out.  Ugh…it’s depressing.  I’m finding the older I get, the faster time moves and, I’m sorry, but fall just doesn’t last long enough!

But then you get a couple days of reprieve.  An “open your windows once last time” kind of a day.  One last chance to take the bikes out.  Another opportunity for leaf piles or a game of ball.  One more day of hearing children running and laughing outside.  Gray skies exit and blue skies are ushered in.  And you are grateful.  Thankful.  Thankful to the Creator for the reminder of His power and grace.  It is so easy to get discouraged and down-trodden during different seasons of life.  It is so simple to forget the blessings in our lives and instead focus on the negative.  It is so effortless!  Yet, perhaps we should put some effort into a season of Thanksgiving.   A season to store up a harvest of gratitude for the blessings and mercies shown in our lives this year.

It is a sure cure for the winter blahs…count your blessings.  Just start counting.  You’ll be amazed when you begin.  And soon, thankfulness will be effortless.  Perspectives will change.  A balance will set.  The blindfold of resentment, bitterness, regret, jealousy (whatever foothold is covering you) will be removed.  And you will  begin to see with new eyes.  And as the leaves change and weaken and fall to their rest, we can still find something to admire and fix our eyes upon.  Wherever you are, wherever you live.  Beauty is all around us…if we just have the eyes to see it.

~My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  2 Cor 12:9

Tests of time

We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;  perseverance, character;  and character, hope.  Romans 5:3-4

The old barns tell a story from an era long ago.

Withstood the harsh realities of rain and wind and snow.

Stored hay and grain and leather for stock that worked the land.

Through storms and scorching sun, it always could withstand.

Seen generations of men pass through big double doors

As sweat from working sun to sun flowed freely from their pores.

Now they face uncertainty towards eventual demise

As horse-less carriages relentlessly speed ignorantly by.

So if you pass a weathered barn, breathe in its vital history

Of family and perseverance, of hard work and unity.

For traits that seem to be fading, like the weathered barns, too fast

May soon be fully extinct from the rare breeds of our past.

- Denise Strahan

Forever sisters, forever friends

Well, what can I say?  These two sisters were soooo much fun to shoot.  Granted, at home, they may actually want to “shoot” each other but while taking their pictures, I couldn’t help but think about the lifelong bond they will have with each other.  They’ve shared many memories I’m sure, as childhood playmates, school days together, and squabbles over clothes, the phone, the TV, etc.

As they’ve matured, I think about all the other memories they probably have (but do not yet appreciate I’m sure):  prom dress shopping trips, driving each other to school, late-night talks about boyfriends, bickering about their parents, visiting each other at college, etc.  The future is not far away.  Soon it will be endless conversations about wedding preparations, new homes, baby registries, and play dates for their own children.  I hope when they look at their photos from this day, they will recall that they are forever sisters, forever friends.

Little Things

I could probably write an entire book on “little things” that my sweet son does or says. Colten is my sensitive gentle giant and always amazes me by how much he considers and thinks of others. This is a picture from last fall, a giant pumpkin he bought for me for an early birthday present for me in October. The leaves he brought me the following day (because he knows how I LOVE all the colors of fall). Maybe this isn’t a big thing but we sit on 20 acres of leaves and one could most easily overlook and take for granted the crunchy leaves underfoot all the time. Not Colten…he spotted one of these as he rode his bike up the drive from the school bus (dismounted and retrieved it), one as he was shooting his bow (found it while getting a stray arrow) and one while frog-hunting at the pond. He brought them to me saying he found “perfect” leaves and, melted my heart when he said…. “and I thought of you.” ~sigh~

Two are better than one

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!

- Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

When I look at this picture, I am just simply….at peace.

I was watching Colten and Caley at the pond this spring feeding our yearly geese families.  They were having a grand time with each other and would get excited as the geese came nearer with each toss of bread crumbs.  Colten’s dog, Coy, must have been enjoying their comradery and giggles too as she sit or lay silently nearby, reserving her urges to jump in the water for a little goose chase.

After the bread crumbs were gone, I noticed them sitting on the bench just studying the geese.  I wish I could hear the conversations.  I could only make out that there was conversation but will never know the depth of it.  The longer they talked, the closer Caley would scoot over to her big brother, her “Buddy”.  Soon, they were right next to each other and the arms reached around the other.  I often wonder what thoughts were being spoken during this time.  Were they just having a moment?  Were they realizing how much they really love each other?  Were they aware of their lifelong bond they will forever have?  Were they just slowing down from their non-stop play and realizing that they were amongst good company?  Were they marveling at the geese that come home every spring and enjoying the simplistic beauty of the monogamous pairs?  I’ll never know.  All I know is that I was glad I happened to look out when I did.  I wonder how many other “moments” we miss when we just don’t pay attention.