Friday, May 31, 2013


This week has been a stormy week weather-wise.  We have needed the moisture, so the rain has been good.  The way in which the rain has come has also been good.  If it rained too hard, too fast, the ground wouldn't have had a chance to soak in all the goodness, and that wonderful moisture just runs right off.  But we have been fortunate this week, because generally, our several inches of rain has come in rainfalls of .30", or .50" at a time.  This is an amazing gift.  
Yes, there were some more intense rains, particularly the other morning when we got an inch of rain in almost an hour.  That caused some tension.  Some of our beans have been in the ground right about a week, so a rain too hard would cause them to wash out.  If the beans hadn't taken hold yet, re-planting is usually needed.  But, after a drive around some of the fields yesterday, my amazing husband is pleased with how things look with this much rain with such young plants.  
Last night, there were some wicked-looking clouds around here, and we spent the majority of the evening in a thunderstorm warning.  This is not unlike how most of the week has gone.  Dave and I spent quite a bit of time watching the sky, either from the open garage door, or out the front window.  We have a unique opportunity, as our living room and garage face west, so we are able to see the storms coming in, but our kitchen and deck are on the east side, so we are able to see when the storms are past.  Sometimes we have some fun with this, saying, "I like the east side better, it's still raining over here," or "Ohhh - look over here - it's done raining already" if we're in the living room.  
As the storms progressed past us last night, Dave called to me from the kitchen, commenting on a rainbow.  It was a full, complete rainbow, which is really cool.  But better than that - it was a complete, full, double rainbow.  I couldn't get the whole thing in one camera shot -- but here it is in two.  

So this morning, when I woke up at 3:45 (don't ask -- I don't know why!), I started thinking about last night's storm, and the rainbow.  And it struck me how our perspective makes all the difference.  We can be going through an incredibly difficult time -- feeling we are in the middle of a storm, feeling alone, feeling betrayed, feeling abandoned -- even by God.  Wind blowing all around us.  Rain pelting down.  Gray clouds and wicked skies surrounding us.  
But eventually, it passes.  
The wind dies down.  
Rain stops.  
Gray clouds part to an amazing, peaceful, beautiful sky.  
It doesn't always happen right away.  Sometimes it takes hours.  Days.  Weeks.  Months.  But God is faithful.  He will see us through our difficulties.  He will not leave nor forsake us.  
When we are in the middle of our difficulties, it's often hard for our limited human-sight to see what good can come from a situation.  But when we get on the other side of the storm, we can see God has been working all along.   
Fields become green. Trees grow.  Flowers bloom.  Rivers and lakes and streams flow more freely.  
We are refreshed.  
We can choose to focus on the storm, or we can choose to focus on the rainbow.  

Saturday, May 18, 2013


I attended a funeral yesterday for a wonderful 96-year-old lady.  I didn't know her well, but her daughter-in-law is a friend with whom I work.  It was interesting to hear of her life, she was a delightful woman who worked hard during her life, raised three wonderful children, loved her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and loved the Lord.  There were many people in attendance, there were beautiful flowers (she loved flowers!), beautiful music (Patti can play for me anytime!!), and a great message of eternal life.  Did I mention the flowers?  :)
But I was a bit distracted with my own thoughts.  Actually, I was a bit distracted with thoughts from previous funerals.
My sisters and I have been honored to provide special music for many, many funerals over the past however many years.  We've been part of incredibly sad, mournful services, and we've been to a couple services where it was hard not to keep the smiles off our faces due to the joy everyone felt for the deceased.  After watching a loved one suffer, and/or after a long, well-lived life, there is a sense of joy and relief the family and loved ones feel when their burden of living is released.  
My mentor, Fr. Frank Hoelck, always said funerals are more for the living than they are for the one who has died.  How true.  The person we are remembering has passed into their eternal glory - WE are the ones left with sadness, loss, emptiness.  WE are the ones who need to gather and comfort one another.  I love Fr. Frank's words of wisdom when they come back to me.
One of my sisters had a co-worker who commented one time how remarkable funerals are.  He explained by saying that you can plan a gathering, send invitations, plan food, etc., and people will find reasons and excuses why not to attend.  But for funerals, people go out of their way to make plans, rearrange schedules in order to attend.  He has a good point.
Probably my most favorite thought of funerals came, I believe, from a relative of mine when we were planning our great-aunt's funeral Mass.  They said, "Funerals are so much like weddings.  There's alot of people.  Everyone dresses up.  There's alot of flowers.  There's food afterwards.   They're alot alike."   We all laughed at the truth in that statement.
And that's much of what I was pondering yesterday through much of Viola's funeral. I thought of this as I listened to the minister talk of Viola's faith and her life.  As I relefected on Patti's angelic singing.  As I admired the amazing floral arrangements - the lilies, the roses.  (Can you tell I'm a flower person too?!)  
Why do we wait until someone is gone to celebrate life?  Why do we wait to say the good things about them when they're not present to hear them?  Why are all those beautiful flowers all at the church at the same time?  Why don't we send those gorgeous arrangements throughout the life of the person so they can enjoy their beauty?  Why do we have to wait for someone else to tell how they saw Christ in the way we lived?
I thought about these things.  And I decided the following:
I want to celebrate life every day.  I want to remember to let people know what I appreciate about them.  I want people to know what they mean to me.  I want to enjoy beautiful flowers every day.  I want others to enjoy flowers while they can enjoy their beauty.  I want to live my life so others see Christ through how I live every day.
Yes, I'd love for other people to say nice things about me when I'm gone.  But more importantly, like so many other faithful followers of Christ, I want to be greeted with the most enormous embrace when I pass through Heaven's gate, and hear the amazing voice of Jesus greeting me with, "Well done, good and faithful servant....."  The thought of that makes me cry.  And smile.  What an amazing reward, and what an amazing welcome into eternity it will be.
And I bet the flowers will be unbelievable too!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Of Graduations and Receptions

Ahh, graduation season.  As a teacher, I love graduation season, as it symbolizes the closing of a school year, the promise of summertime to come.  Some years, graduation is a very welcome rite, when students are ushered from the halls and classrooms of the school with great relief.  (Theirs AND ours!)  Other years, graduation is bittersweet: we've watched students grow and learn, fail and succeed, and in all reality, they have become my friends.

(Warning:  The rest of this post contains a little cynicism and sarcasm.  Readers should proceed at their own risk.)  :)
But along with graduation comes the ever-present reception.  From a teacher's perspective, receptions provide an interesting situation.  We get many invitations from students to their graduation parties.  Do we try to go to all of them?  Do we just pick and choose which ones we want to attend?  Is that based on who the student is?  Who the parents are?  Who is going to be serving the best food?  So many decisions.  I know a teacher, and in fact, it was me for a while, who approached the reception dilemma by saying if he couldn't go to all of the receptions, he wasn't going to any of them.  Very fair in a lot of ways.  
Yet I know it means a great deal to many students to see their teachers on their "home turf".  Parents appreciate it too.  
Parents put an amazing amount of work into receptions any more.  Way back in the day, graduation receptions consisted of various drinks, a cake, nuts, mints (if you were lucky to have someone make them for you!), maybe some cold cut sandwiches, and a bowl of chips.  If the graduate was a girl, she may have kept a scrapbook that could be put out by the guest book.  The senior picture would be prominently displayed as well.  That would be it.  Sweet, simple, nice, and neat!  I remember my graduation, our biggest concern was that it might rain (it didn't) since we lived in the country and our reception was in our new garage.  Oh, and when it started to warm up during the day, we hoped the cream cheese mints my aunt had made would hold their shape. (They did.)  
I am blown away by receptions now days.  Reception halls are rented, caterers are booked, coffee shops are rented out, party-planner/decorators are hired, presentation boards are loaded with pictures, memory videos play.  Now, I know there are good reasons for some of these things.  Sometimes houses are too small to host gatherings (one of my sisters was in this situation), or the family lives a good distance from the school (a different sister was in this situation).  Some students achieve such great things you can't HELP but brag them up through their pictures and mementos (not even going to try to name them all).  And you know, sometimes families truly enjoy putting on a party, and having a chocolate fountain for their only daughter's graduation party makes perfect sense at the time.  Ask me about that one sometime.  The reception at Tom and Mary's truly is a funny story that we still laugh about today.       
But really, I start to wonder after a while, are these parties for the kids, or for the parents?  Re-doing the house, re-landscaping the yard, all the planning and stressing and worrying and work: do parents enjoy this?  And this is for high school graduation?  I don't know about you - but throwing this big of a party for an event that kind of seems like it ought to be expected of students these  I don't know.  Yes, for some students, high school graduation IS a big deal, it IS the culmination of hard work and overcoming obstacles.  But, don't we still expect them to work hard and overcome obstacles for the rest of their lives?  Having a party like this when a person is 17 years old, I wonder about the sense of entitlement some kids develop for other events in their lives.  Like weddings.  But that's another post for another day.  
I've been pondering these things for some time.  And I figured it was safe to post this this morning, as I am heading to the first two receptions of my graduation season later today.  I love my friends.  I love their children.  I am proud of all them.  And I pray for God's continued guidance and blessings on them all the days of their lives.  
The kids and the parents.  

Monday, May 6, 2013


We have two ponds on our land.  From where I am sitting right now at our kitchen table, I can look out the east doors, past the upper deck, and right on to the pond.
We have wildlife that take advantage of our ponds, it's not unusual to see deer, muskrats, raccoon, or any number of birds.  I've never really been a bird person, but in the last couple years, I've started to pay attention a little more.  We have the usual sparrows, crows, hawks, and pigeons, but we'll have bluejays, cardinals, turtle doves, even a bald eagle fly through our yard every now and then.
I've started to pay attention to a few bird types when I see them.  We had a sandhill crane a couple weeks ago - very cool.  We have ducks pretty regularly.  But my most favorite is when a pair of Canadian geese decide to rest at our pond for a while.  I have no idea if it is the same pair or not; I like to imagine it is.  I like to think we have a welcoming and safe area for them, where they can feel comfortable stopping in whenever they need.  But, of course, they're birds.  I have no idea.
I had read things about geese flying together in the "V" formation to help each other out, to honk to encourage one another - and that was really neat for when I see them flying in their giant formations overhead.  I also learned if one is sick or injured, another one will drop back to stay with that goose until it is ok to move on.  But to see a couple of geese up close, it just makes me smile.  What fascinates me the most is that I never see just one.  We never have a single goose on the pond; if there's one, there's two.  When they're together, they look out for one another.  One swims while one stands guard.  One stays on the tuft of weeds while one rummages around for whatever he or she can find.  They are never far away from the other.
Geese mate for life, around 25 years, from what I read. Quite honestly, these geese remind me of my husband and I.  Even if Dave and I aren't side by side, he knows I'm on guard for him, and I know he's got my back.
On an even bigger scale, isn't that just like Jesus in our lives?  Helping us with encouraging "honking" from the Bible and from others, never leaving us alone, staying with us, seeking us out?
All I know is when I see our "gooseses" on the pond, it makes me smile.  And I hope they stick around for a long time.  I like having them here.

Thursday, May 2, 2013


I'm realizing an interesting thing about myself:  I'm not very patient.  With some things anyway.
I marvel at my husband.  As a farmer, so many things are out of his control.  Let me re-state that:  As a farm family, so many things are out of our control.  The weather this spring has been crazy, especially when compared to how unusual last spring was.  As I'm typing this, 3" of snow have melted since it fell last night.  Yes, today is May 2.  During this time of year, farmers are busy preparing the fields and planting their crops. There's fertilizing to be done, then there's planting to be done, then there's spraying to be get the idea.  I think I am getting much more impatient for this whole process to get going than my husband.  He was able to complete the fertilizer application before the snow, but now we wait for things to dry out so the planting can begin.  So I marvel at how Dave takes this all in stride:  we can't do anything about it anyway, so why get all upset about it?  And he truly means it!!
Now, don't get me wrong.  I am so thankful for the much needed rain and moisture our barren land has received after last year's record drought.  God has been good.  And I don't just want my husband out of the house, because that couldn't be further than the truth.  But, the whole thing of waiting........being patient........."Be still, and know I am God."
One would think that as a teacher, patience would come easily for me.  And once in a while, it does.  But alot of times, I struggle with it.  
A student of mine did the song "O Rest in the Lord" from Mendelssohn's oratorio "Elijah" for Contest this spring.  I helped him pick that song out, mainly because his voice was amazing with the song, but deep down, I think maybe I was a little selfish, and knew I would need to hear that reminder:  O rest in the Lord, wait patiently for Him.....
I do have a tendency to want to rush things: times, dates, etc.  I get so excited when things are coming up, when there is something to look forward to.  I've been given so many wonderful, amazing gifts, blessings -- I don't want to pass up any of the goodness of the present in anticipation of the promises of the future.
I need to be present in the moment.  Appreciate what is right here.  Right now.
Just rest in the Lord........wait patiently for Him..........