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22 June 2019

Memories of Farm Chores

Each bale of hay is a visual of accomplishment.
Seeing the farmers picking wheat this week brought back childhood memories for me. If you have never been involved in harvesting wheat it has to be one of the hottest jobs ever, right up there with fire-fighters and roofers! It’s hot, sweaty, sticky, itchy, and very dusty! I hated having to do it, but I was fairly lucky because I was usually a driver. That was bad enough, but I pitied the guys who had to walk behind, picking up the heavy hay bales and throwing them on the trailer. Then unload them into the barn loft.

When we were kids my brother and I were often farm hands right along with the rest of the hired help when it came to doing some of the more extreme jobs. These included pulling weeds from long rows of peas (soybeans) for weeks (ugh), picking up roots when we took in more farm land, and gathering watermelon and cantaloupes by the truckloads. We had to work in the garden and no, it wasn't some little garden. Daddy had a penchant for thinking his garden was practically just a mini farm field. Those rows of snaps and butter beans seemed to go on forever! We'd usually get up early in the mornings to start work, but it didn't take long for the sun to get high in the sky and hotter than Hades. There were also hot dusty jobs like sweeping and rearranging the barn or cleaning out the hog pens. Never pleasant but had to be done (luckily, only on occasion).

I think pulling weeds was the worse job because it lasted a couple weeks. It was especially hot because we had to wear long-sleeves to keep us from itching from the scratchy plants and getting sunburned. I remember once when we'd gotten caught in a rain storm on the opposite end of the field from where the trucks were parked. When the lightening started we all had to run back for cover. We piled into the cab of the truck in the downpour, the windows steaming because it was so hot and we were so wet. When it was over we'd head back to the field, but it was worse than ever because of the added humidity. It was like a tropical sauna!

I have to remember the good parts too. Even though the jobs were tough and we kids usually whined because none of our friends had to do what we did, we'd still have a fairly good time. Daddy was always telling stories or making jokes. He'd patiently answer all our questions about how this grew or how to tell if something needed nitrogen or fertilizer. We'd play guessing games or sing songs as we picked butter beans or pluck chickens. The time didn't pass any quicker, but it was nice to think it did. Afterwards we'd get a bath and put our pj's on and feel a cool evening breeze and everything would feel right with the world. We all slept like the tired babies we were.

All in all, those long hours of hot chores gave us tenacious stick-to-it work ethics. You can't buy this stuff. So everything I did back then still continues to affect me to this day and that's a very good thing. I'm so blessed to have been a farmer's kid!!

04 June 2019

Worm Lessons

On my daily walk this morning I was thinking about the worms I always see trying to get from one side of the driveway to the grass. It's often a struggle to travel across the rocks  without drying up before they get to the dewy haven of grass.

I wonder what they think? What drives them to roam and take the chance of a hungry bird spying them when they look like long stark twigs laying on those light colored rocks. This morning I saw one stretched out on the road! Boy, is he gonna be in trouble, I thought. He wasn't even heading across the road, but down the road. Turn a little to the left and head for the hills grass, little buddy!

I guess God knows what they are doing, where they are heading and why. He created them and surely there is a purpose to their madness.

I think we are a little like those worms. When we're young we start our own journeys, often without a plan or goal. We don't know what we're doing but yet we keep heading down the road, seeking the something good, like that cool wet grass is to worms. We struggle an awful lot.When we no longer feel that we are going to get anywhere and things aren't going so good (drying up), then we have the option of reaching out to ask God for help. We can ask, and we can know that our God hears us when we cry out to Him. We know that He will save us regardless of how badly we have messed up our journey, or how far we went while ignoring Him.

This past week, not too far from here there was a senseless tragedy and 12 people suddenly lost their lives. I wonder how many of them were ready to meet Jesus face to face. While our hearts break for these victims and their families let this event also remind us that life is short and you never know when it may be your own last day on earth. Please, please be ready for that moment by asking Jesus to come into your life today. You know He died for you, right? He took your sins that would have kept you from God's presence on Himself and did away with it once and for all. You just need to believe that.

VB STRONG

29 May 2019

Fun Now and Then

My daily walking is still going well. I am reaching the point where I hate to get out of bed so early to beat the heat, but other than that it's very peaceful. This morning I looked up to see "our" deer run skip casually from the shop to the back yard. It's always so cool to see him. It makes getting up early worth the effort.

The local family members gathered Monday evening for a spontaneous fried chicken dinner on the deck for Memorial Day. It was nice and cool out there and I love to eat outside whenever I can. The birds had been fairly quiet that evening, probably because we were talking so much. When we'd tried to tell Mom what an Indigo Bunting sounded like (we have tons of them here) my brother pulled an app for a sample. The next thing we knew all the birds in the woods were getting a bit agitated and I can tell you that the closest Indigo flew right over our heads several times before landing on a bird feeder pole on the edge of the deck. He was so close and very beautiful. Everyone said "Don't move" at the same time (too funny)!

So that was fun. Next we pulled up the Cardinal sounds. Lo and behold, here comes a curious Red Bird after flitting from one side of the yard to the other, scoping us out. He also landed on a feeder pole to see what was up! Needless to say, we sat like stones watching him for a while.

We did have a lot of fun. Of course, like most country folks, it doesn't take a lot to make us happy. I can remember when Daddy was farming happiness was taking a break for a few moments in the cool of a shade tree with a luke-warm Coca Cola and a pack of nearly stale Nab crackers!

Lately I've been trying to see what memories I still have from when I was very little. My earliest memory is when we went to the hospital to pick up Mom and my new baby brother. I remember leaning over the seat to gaze on the little fellow in the front seat of the car. Of  course back then there were no car seats, lap belts or even head rests. We lived in dangerous times then and didn't have the good sense to know it!

Another early memory is of our swing set. Bro and I used to see how high we could swing and say "Beat you to Jesus!" and the other would say, "No, I'll beat You to Jesus first!" as we went higher and higher, which wasn't very high at all. I like this memory because it tells me that Jesus has been part of who I am since the very beginning.

One more, from when I was old enough to ride my bicycle down to the church (and through those curves to boot)! That was back when the church was unlocked and I'd go there to play the piano in the coolness of the sanctuary. I kept wanting to play for Jesus but it had to be perfect. Every time I'd hit a bad note I'd have to start over again. I don't think I've ever gotten it perfect yet and most Sundays I'm still sitting there in church trying my best. Trying is the optimum word!

I guess trying is all anyone can do, right? Just think how the world might be if everyone just tried to do their best to each other! But even if the world doesn't strive to reach that goal we still keep on trying in our own piece of the world, to make it a better place, just because we were in it for a while.

Have a great Summer!

10 May 2019

Battle of the Bluebird

It's the battle of the bluebird, folks. Maybe it's just Murphy's law because recently we had the car washed. Now we have a feisty bluebird who sees himself in the windows and is not content with having that new bird around. Suffice it to say that the car now needs washed again.

Said bluebird is also hovering like a helicopter and repeatedly jumping at himself into a window at the back of the house. So now I have taken to keeping the curtains closed to see if that helps. This just started yesterday.

I'm not really sure if this is because we added a new bluebird box in the back yard earlier this spring. We've had bluebirds at one box for years, but it seems, that with the addition of the new box, they have become a little more territorial. I knew the boxes were too close together when we added the new one,  but I was just hoping for everyone to just get along. So far, other than many weeks ago, both boxes have been ignored except for a chickadee and wren scoping out the new box.

I hate to think of Feisty Guy stressing himself out so much (Danny too, for that matter - he liked the clean car). But it looks like we'll be digging a new post hole soon in a new location. I think the front yard is due for one, which ought to do the trick!

23 April 2019

What An Easter!

Since my last post things got hectic, mostly in preparation for Easter services at church. First there was getting the final bulletins out for Palm and Easter Sundays, last minute rehearsals for both the Joyful Noise Choir and the band, followed by one of the best performances by the choir on Palm Sunday. At each practice we had prayed for the music to touch hearts and the feedback received indicated just that! By request we're planning to reprise one of our favorites from the musical again this Sunday as a final follow-up to the Easter season.

With Saturday came the Easter Egg Hunt at church. I don't usually go since my kids are grown, but I didn't have a source for photos so I grabbed my camera and joined the organized chaos of the indoor hunt filled with tons of kids! Everyone had a great time there! Kids are just so cute!! It ended up that I was the last person to leave church after a quick praise team rehearsal after the egg hunt. When I closed the foyer doors imagine my surprise to see a purple egg fall to the ground! The very last egg of the hunt had been found! So I got a prize too! (I kept the prize candy but returned the egg for another hunt someday).

Then there was Easter morning! We arrived at church at 5:30am to help set up for the Sunrise service. The men worked by truck lights for a while! My keyboard and many chairs were moved outside, the sound man had everything working, the guitar was hooked up, our song leader looked lovely and the people came. Oh, yes, and the sunshine showed up right on schedule! It was pretty awesome! The pastor's short message was  moving as we imagined being there when Christ was crucified. Afterwards, with donuts and coffee all around we enjoyed a time of great community interaction.

Danny & I came home to change and I was able to rest my back from sitting on the piano bench the whole time. We returned to church at 8:30 for last minute rehearsals with the band and praise team. The 10am service went very well and we sang "He Lives." "Because He Lives," and "The Old Rugged Cross." I felt like everyone was in such a great joyful spirit that the whole room was vibrant. A family joined church, the pastor gave another great message, and many people went home with a dessert they'd bought at the Sweet Sensations auction to raise money for missions. The whole day was just awesome!

I gotta say, I never, in my wildest dreams, imagined playing piano for a church Easter service when I grew up! I always hated to play in public; recitals gave me nightmares. But, God does take away the fear and gives you the boldness to do any job He asks you to do. (I still ask Him to make my fingers go the way they're s'posed to go when I play each Sunday)!

Afterwards, we again went home, fed the dogs and changed clothes before heading out for a quick lunch at Asian Grill. It was so weird... nothing was open in the whole complex but that restaurant! Just empty parking lots all over the place and a few people driving around looking to see what might be open (duh, nothing).

When we finally got back home I uploaded the sermon online and then crashed for the rest of the day! This was the most exhilarating and exhausting Easter ever, but I wouldn't have changed a thing! Thank you, Jesus, for the opportunity to serve You!