Monday, September 28, 2015

Early Fall in Iowa

We've had a lovely stretch of dry warm weather so the farmers are getting busy in the fields. The corn has mostly turned brown and the soy beans are dry and ready to pick. It creates a cloud of dust as the combines move through the fields, camouflaging the huge machinery as if it was some foreign object from outer space. The leaves are beginning to change colors and a few are beginning to fall.

The fall flowers are at their peak. Purple asters brighten the landscape with clusters of their blooms and chrysanthemums are loaded with colorful blossoms. The black-eyed Susans are still bright with their golden halos as the still-red geraniums shout out their beauty until the first frost comes to claim their lives.

Grasshoppers leap about, sticking to blades of grass and plants. Locusts sing their songs as evening settles in. The squirrels scurry to retrieve the acorns as they plop to the ground below. All signs begin to indicate a transition time is ahead. The birds seem to congregate in flocks as if making plans for flying south.

"In the beginning, O Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will roll them up like a robe; like a garment they will be changed. But you remain the same, and your years will never end" (Hebrews 1:10-12 NIV).

Thursday, September 24, 2015

God's Beautiful Country

"One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple" (Psalm 27:4 NIV).

We have returned from a vacation in northern Arizona and the beauty we experienced there makes me feel anxious to see the beauty God has in store for us in heaven. It will be totally amazing, I'm sure. We started out in Flagstaff and went north to Tuba City the first night, on the Navajo Reservation. It was a lovely drive through scenic valleys and the Black Mesa area then on to the red rocks of the Monument Valley along the Utah border the next day. Many of the old time westerns were filmed in Monument Valley because of its very recognizable land formations in red stone and the wild west desert landscapes. We took a self tour, driving 17 miles on a rough red dirt road, being amazed at how the rocks pop up out of the ground randomly along the way. It was incredible.

Then it was on to Page, Arizona, a small town that is the hub of the Lake Powell area. We hiked to Horseshoe Bend, an area where the Colorado River loops through a canyon creating a remarkable horseshoe shape far below. We toured Antelope Canyon, an area where water has eroded a narrow canyon in brilliantly colored orange and white layered rock. We walked through the canyon reveling in the amazing shapes and forms the rocks have become, in awe of the beauty that the Navajo hold as holy.

We drove along the Vermilion Cliffs, stunningly beautiful red and white variegated stone mountains where the road winds in and out of their stately towers. Then followed another mountain canyon trail that led to the north rim of the Grand Canyon. Along one of the meadow areas we were blessed to see a herd of buffalo enjoying a mid-day lunch, calmly enjoying the area, in no hurry to move on. At the Grand Canyon we were amazed by the vastness of the beauty there, with overwhelming views providing perspectives of the greatness below.

All that God has created is beautiful, such an inadequate word for all that we experienced. And what we saw was only a morsel of all that He has made for us to enjoy. Thank you God for creating such diverse beauty to behold. It is everywhere we look; in the fields of corn and beans here in Iowa or the rustic canyons of Arizona. God is good; all the time.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Sheep Showing Finale

After three full months of sheep showing the grandchildren concluded their circuit with the finale in Webster City on Saturday and Sunday. Two final shows and a bit of celebration took place in long days of competition with a full range of youth participating. The kids enrolled last winter and attended as many shows as they wanted to or were able to during the summer. It takes dedication and drive by the youth and equally by the parents or grandparents because it is a lot of work.

All four of our participating grandchildren received awards for their dedication and accomplishments. But the true awards were the skills they learned and developed over the summer and the friends they made. For 15-year-old Calvin, his maturity led to learning the feeding regiment and how to shear and do the final preparations on the lambs before a show. He became a pro at lamb readying and showmanship. Next, is Payton, 10, who took her showmanship to another level this year, without a halter. She too helps with lots of the prepping of the lambs and became a young expert in judging. Eight-year-old Bailey improved her showmanship considerably this year, winning several showmanship contests, like Calvin and Paige. Four-year-old Graham gained confidence and developed the smile of a winner. He worked very hard at practicing leading his lamb, Blake Shelton, and Blake won Graham several shows.

It was especially fun to have Paige along for the finale as she usually is busy with rodeos. She enjoyed the competition and the time with her brother and dad. The grandchildren are workers and know what needs to be done before it is asked of them. We couldn't be prouder of their efforts in every aspect of their lives. Piper, age two, is already making plans to be a sheep showman as well and it probably won't be long.

"You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet: all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas" (Psalm 8:6-8 NIV).

Thursday, September 10, 2015


After spending most of the past two days watching how amazing the human body is at healing (my sister-in-law had her knee replaced), I just have to thank God for the way he made the human body so resilient. It is totally incredible to see how quickly the body recovers from major surgery when everything goes well. In one day she went from surgery early in the morning to standing on her new knee and pivoting that late afternoon. I admire the abilities of the doctors and nurses and all the different staff who play a part in making a patient comfortable and helping her through each step of recovery.

Insurance has made the medical field hone its skills so that patients are ready (?) to go home sooner and do more of the recovery process in their own homes or as out-patients. We found that for the new knee insurance allows 'two midnights' or longer only if there is some medical issue of concern. They try to do a good job of staying ahead of the pain so it doesn't become intolerable.

It takes courage to undergo such a major surgery, often nudged along by the severe pain in the worn out body part. The physical therapist reminded us that walking on the knee would not hurt it, unlike the caution required more with a new hip, however there will be physical pain to face bravely. And courage to keep pushing the knee to bend more and work harder. I admire all those who must choose to get a replacement part.

"Heal me, O Lord, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for You are the one I praise" (Jeremiah 17:14 NIV).

Fortunately, God is constantly with us, helping us through the physical challenges of life. He will heal us as we continue to seek His constant presence. And gives us resiliency as we rest in His loving arms.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Laboring on Labor Day

It's a day of celebrating labor so what is more appropriate than working. It seems like it should be a day of relaxation and rest to honor the many days of toil but at least for us it usually means an extra day off in which to accomplish some summer's end task. It seems the weekends are so busy with catching up from the week past and sheep shows that there's never time to do the other jobs that need to be done routinely.

Our deck has been undecked all summer long thanks to the efforts of grandson Calvin working to remove all the old materials, leaving only the foundation ready for a new floor and railings. So this is the selected weekend, hot weather and all. There have been numerous trips to the lumber store for new materials and instructions, then finding out we got a lot of lumber we didn't need thanks to computerized plans that erred. Just bring it back they said, which requires loading and unloading again.

It's been awhile since we did a big project and we are older than we once were. It seems everything is a little harder than it used to be, too. And our bodies are a little less powerful than they once were. John is doing all the work. My big task was to put screws and fasteners together, 500 of them, and even that showed my wimpiness. I got a blister on my thumb.  Even though we complain of aching muscles and heat exhaustion it is still a blessing to be able to accomplish the project on our own. At least it will feel that way once it is done. I hope.

"I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil--this is the gift of God" (Ecclesiastes 3:12-13 NIV).

Thursday, September 3, 2015


September is always a busy month it seems with school starting and fall sports' seasons beginning. There are lots of birthdays and anniversaries and this year a wedding, too. Plus a surgery and appointments will make the days pass quickly. There is a deck to finish and sheep to breed. The grandkids await the sheep showing finale next weekend and our vacation is planned after that. It makes me tired just thinking of it all.

Our oldest grandson is out for cross country this year instead of football. He ran miles and miles all summer long to be ready and had a successful first meet last week. He has several meets this month hopefully while the weather is good. It's a sport that requires endurance and challenges the mind. It requires constant self talk to overcome the fatigue that sets in. And it is an individual sport where you have no one else to blame for the outcome.

Our youngest grandson started preschool this week. What an exciting new world is open before him. With new teachers and probably some new friends he will prepare for a lifetime of learning in school. Learning within more structured times will be a new challenge for him and I imagine there will be some long exhausting days ahead. He was ready with a new backpack and a smile.

The other grandchildren are also back in school. New grades and new teachers, and new subjects for the high schoolers. What excitement and change. I'm hoping they are blessed with friendly and compassionate teachers who spark the love of learning in them all. Paige begins a new year of high school rodeo competition, something she loves. How quickly they grow and develop!

"For attaining wisdom and discipline; for understanding words of insight; for acquiring a disciplined and prudent life, doing what is right and just and fair; for giving prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the young--let the wise listen and add to their learning and let the discerning get guidance--for understanding proverbs and parables, the sayings and riddles of the wise" (Proverbs 1:2-6 NIV).