Thursday, October 29, 2015


Finished is a great word. It means something is complete. It is no longer hanging over your head undone or just partly done. When you are finished with a project there is a sense of relief and a feeling of satisfaction for the accomplishment. I like the word finished.

John and I finished a job this weekend that has been a burden on the mental "to do" list all summer and fall. Our grandson Calvin actually started the project for us early in the summer as a way to give him something to do when he came to the farm. He tore off all the old railings and floor boards from our badly weathered deck. He made quick work of the destruction phase, completing that midsummer, while we still had weekends filled with sheep shows and fairs ahead.

Finally in early September we purchased all the new materials for the floor and railings and unloaded a trailer full of boards, spindles, railings, screws and brackets. Using only the open weekends we began the process of recreating a deck. The floor was completed first, then the trim around the base was added. Next came the 10 posts for the railings and finally the eight sections of railings were built and installed. Then the deck was finished.

"Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, 'I am thirsty'...When he had received the drink, Jesus said, 'It is finished'. With that he bowed his head and gave up his spirit" (John 19:28, 30 NIV).

Jesus must have been encumbered by all that was ahead of him. It was such a heavy weight to bear; the burdens of the world were his to redeem. Yet he chose to satisfy our sinful debt with his own life. What a blessing that we don't have to be burdened by our past mistakes. We are free and forgiven.
It is finished.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Forty-two Years

It was a sunny October day much like today that John and I got married in our little country church called Bethel Grove. It was a cool Friday evening when we said our vows and gathered with our families. The reception was in the church basement with cake and punch and a table of gifts off to the side which had been opened by the gift helpers, yes that's the way it was done back in 1973.

Charlie Fry was our pastor and Daddy sang, "One Hand, One Heart". I couldn't look at him because I knew I would cry. I carried a bouquet of big gold mums and fall flowers in yellows, orange and white. My wedding dress was homemade and so was the veil and the bridesmaid dresses. I wore a string of pearls my mother had given me for the occasion. I was 18, John was 20; I wonder if our guests thought it would last this long?

We ran out of the church in a shower of rice and a crowd of well-wishers, hopped into a borrowed car that took us to a secret hiding place of John's new silver Chevy Nova, in Albion. We got stopped by the Albion city cop who kindly let us pass while holding back the chasers who followed. We jumped into his car, catching my veil in the door and off we went for a night in Iowa City prior to leaving for a two-day honeymoon in St. Louis, MO.

We were off on a new life together. I had no money to contribute to the marriage - I'd spent it all on the wedding, poor John. We returned to our jobs on Tuesday and it was back to reality. God has richly blessed us through tough times and the good. I wouldn't change a thing. I love John more each day. Thank you, Lord.

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails" (1 Corinthians 13:4-8 NIV).

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Sounds of Country

It's a beautiful calm morning with just a hint of a breeze evident in the swaying branches. I notice first how quiet it is...something has changed...the grain dryer isn't running as it has been for the past few weeks. It isn't our grain dryer. I'm really not sure which farm the dryer is located on but it is west or north of us and during the harried days of harvest the dryer has been moaning its active presence day and night. It's kind of a sorrowful, eerie moan that changed its volume as the wind controlled its movement.

Today the trains are bold and outspoken as they rumble through the countryside, blowing their warning whistle as they approach each road intersection, one after another, "get off the tracks," "get off the tracks"!

As the train moves on in the distance, slipping into quietness, the groan of traffic on the highway takes the train's place in my ears. I hear the vehicles approach our section of Highway 30 then their noise begins to fade as they move past and out of my scope of hearing. The semis hum a deeper tune with an occasional drifting to the rumble strips along the side of the road that seem to cry out, "wake up!"

The birds are quiet this time of year; the trees are less busy now, it seems. The occasional formation of geese flies overhead with its honking and delights me with its presence. The neighbors' dogs begin their warning barks until the 'danger' passes. Their chickens and ducks remain undisturbed, as do the cows in their pasture. The lambs save their baaing for when the shepherd returns.

"Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre, praise him with tambourine and dancing, praise him with the strings and flute, praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals. Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord" (Psalm 150:3-6 NIV).

Monday, October 19, 2015


One of my favorite things is clean windows, though you'd never know it this past summer. We had a robin that repeatedly flew into one of our high windows for several weeks. She finally built a nest within a foot of the window and raised her family there. Thus, I didn't want to bother them by putting up the ladder and washing the window. Instead I waited all summer with a smudge-covered window.

Well, I finally got the gumption to get out the ladders and wash my windows one day last week. It takes some finagling to fit the ladder over or around the bushes that border most of our house-one reason for the dread I have of starting the project. When the bushes were small I could run out and wash all the outside windows in less than an hour. Of course I was younger then also. Now I have to talk myself into the event that seems to take half a day.

But there is no doubt that the work is worth the time and energy it takes. From the outside you can see the reflection of the trees, the blue sky, and the sunshine in the windows. Then, I love coming back inside and observing God's beauty through the invisible glass. I can watch the harvest of corn across the landscape, the trees waving in the wind, and the fall colors erupting on the branches.

I believe God likes it when we are able to reflect the face of Jesus to others. When we accept Jesus into our hearts we are given a clean slate to shine through. When we make good choices in all that we do, we become a reflection of Jesus. And even when we slip up and make a wrong choice, God welcomes us back with our repentance and assures us we are always loved.

"Let the light of your face shine upon us, O Lord" (Psalm 4:6b NIV).

"For God who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ" (2 Corinthians 4:6 NIV).

Lord, make us a reflection of your love to each person we meet this week. Amen.

Thursday, October 15, 2015


What are you waiting for? There are times in life when we all go through periods of waiting. Scriptures reference waiting patiently and silently but also eagerly. Some things are hard to wait for. With other things the waiting is part of the process of getting ready; it takes time to prepare.

When I think of waiting I'm reminded of children as they anticipate Christmas gifts. From the time presents appear under the tree, children are filled with excitement. They dream of what wonderful surprises they might find under the tree. Little ones will ask daily if it is Christmas yet and the waiting can be almost painful to them.

Pregnancy is another time of waiting. There are mixed emotions: of wanting the baby to grow and develop properly, of wanting the wait to be over, of fearing the unknown pain of childbirth, of wondering if it is a boy or a girl, or waiting to find out what the baby looks like. It's a mixture of unequaled joy and concern.

There are times of waiting when the clock doesn't seem to move. Waiting in a doctor's office for an appointment whose time has past; waiting for surgery to be completed and discovering the outcome; waiting for spring after a long, cold winter; or waiting for test results.

Another difficult time of waiting occurs when we pray. John Waller wrote a beautiful song, "While I'm Waiting" that suggests many things to do while we wait on the Lord to answer. He says to be hopeful while you wait and to move ahead, boldly and confidently in obedience. He serves God while he is waiting and he faithfully worships God while he waits.

It isn't easy to wait, nor is it always comfortable to wait. Yet, waiting is part of life.

"Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him" (Psalm37:7 NIV).  For "Blessed is the one who waits" (Daniel 12:12 NIV).

Monday, October 12, 2015

October Days

I think October is one of the most beautiful months of the year. This year has been especially lovely because we haven't had much rain. The sun shining through the multicolored leaves creates a golden glow all around. The wind ripples the branches and the leaves begin to drift softly to the ground. Sometimes the leaves rain down like a shower quickly coating the grass like a winter blanket, making footsteps audible with a crunch, crunch, crunch.

I love the bright orange pumpkins as they decorate the neighborhoods and even better are those who take time to gather cornstalks to accent the lamppost. The rusty mums add their beauty to the scene with brilliant colors so warm and vibrant. Accents of Indian corn, gourds, squash and baskets of apples sitting on a bale of golden oat straw create monuments of thanksgiving to the Lord Almighty.

There is no better time to visit a pumpkin patch or an apple orchard and to awaken the senses to the symbols of October. The pungent smell of cornfields standing ready to pick and the fragrance of apple cider spiced with cinnamon and cloves alert the body to the changing seasons. The brilliant blue sky accents the landscape with its beauty.

"The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing. What has been will be again; there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which one can say, Look! This is something new? It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time" (Ecclesiastes 1:8b, 9 NIV).

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Stand Strong

"Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work" ( Ephesians 4:14-16 NIV).

Some days I feel like a weak Christian. I allow my emotions to take the steering wheel and I end up all over the road. Driving recklessly through trials and challenges and forgetting all the basics of strength and safety. When I allow my human thoughts to wander away from the teachings of God my actions are sadly inappropriate and misdirected.

There are times when my physical body is frail, too, and I feel like I can't stand up against the powerful winds that confront me. Sometimes the wind is just too strong and I find myself leaning into the force, barely moving one foot in front of the other. It would be easier to just stay inside of the shelter, huddled down waiting for the wind to die down.

When we keep our focus on Jesus, the head of the body, we are able to stand strong and function fully in love. God expects nothing less of His people and He is always beside us giving us the strength we are lacking.

I think of the Christians who were gunned down at the Oregon community college last week. And I wonder if I would have stood strong in that same situation. Truly they are martyrs of faith. Lord God, be my backbone of faith, in all that I do, help me stand strong by keeping my eyes on you.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Closet Cleaning Time

Twice a year I make time to reorganize my clothes closet, packing away the out of season apparel and bringing out the comfortable stuff. I usually wait until I'm desperate for something to wear but this time I took advantage of a quiet day and approached the task. I really had two goals this year: find what fits and what is warm. I loaded up five bags of too big clothes and took them to Goodwill. I have too many clothes, the fault of working for twelve years in professional wear that I only use now for church or special occasions. It was time to thin things out.

It is always fun to discover that favorite piece I haven't seen for six months and pull it out where I will see it. I can't quite imagine what it would be like to live somewhere warm all year round and never have to pull out the winter clothes. That might get boring. I forget what I have packed away until I reveal the surprises. I found sweaters and jackets that will be a welcome warmth this fall and winter. Some things have hung in my closet for 20 years but they are still good and are favorites when they fit!

It is also a good time of year to refresh my personal worship time. Sometimes I slack off and let other tasks budge into my quiet time with God. I appreciate having Bible studies and spiritual assignments that help me stay on task, helping me grow in excitement in the Word and want to dig deeper in the scriptures. Life is always so much better when I'm immersed in God's Word. Studying the scriptures makes it easier to know God and to walk closely with Him. I discover new things about God that I hadn't picked up on before and my love for God grows deeper and more precious.

"No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him - but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit" (1 Corinthians 2:9-10 NIV).

May God reveal those hidden treasures of wisdom to us anew this season.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Running for the Prize

"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever" ( 1 Corinthians 9:24-25 NIV).

On Monday night our 15-year-old grandson Calvin ran the cross country race and won the prize. Due to having too many concussions last year in football, he decided last spring to run cross country this fall. He began training as soon as school was out and ran all summer long, teaching his body to be strong with endurance. It paid off on Monday when he led the entire junior varsity race by a substantial lead finishing in around 19 minutes.

In most cross country races there is a four-wheeler that leads the runners through the measured course that often takes place around a golf course or park. The landscape is often very hilly and the trail is rarely straight. The path is mostly grassy but can include muddy patches in wetland areas. They usually paint a line and frequently there are areas where the runners run an area more than once. That makes it easier for spectators to catch more than one glimpse of the favored runner. During the fall season the weather can be boiling hot or bone-chilling cold.

The stamina cross country requires can be seen on the face of every runner in the race. Even more than being about winning a prize, the race is a personal challenge for each individual to finish, to improve their personal time, or to not throw up at the end. With nearly 200 runners in the race it was a mass of faces poised in challenge, struggling and succeeding.

If only I could work that hard at being a disciple of Jesus Christ. I know how wonderful the prize is if I win the race and receive the gift of eternal life. It is definitely worth the effort. Lord, help me get my race face on and meet the daily challenges you place in my life. I want to receive the lasting crown of everlasting life with you. Amen.