Monday, March 10, 2014

A Beautiful, Spring-like Day...Finally!!!

I thought it would never get here.  I really think this has been the longest, coldest winter I can remember!  Even last week we had below zero temperatures!  And you never know... maybe next week we will again.

We have our windows open.  Its a little chilly in here, but the FRESH air feels so good!

The opossums seem to realize it is spring.  We had THREE in our backyard last week!  Dallas calls it "opossum season".

The children took a long lunch break today.  They wore t-shirts and played in the big snow pile way in the back.  It is a man-made pile.  When we have a snow day, Dallas has to go out and play in the snow plow snow.  He always drags snow from the driveway and even the yard, just so they can have a big pile to play on. {What a fun dad!!}

I am hoping we can finish school quickly so that maybe even MOM can get out into the fresh air!  {Actually I would love to go for a run... I know that sounds weird!}

Have a happy spring day!


Sunday, February 23, 2014


Grief is a strange thing.  It comes and goes and has many stages.  Sometimes I think I am OK, I am doing just fine.  Then one day it hits me like it just happened!  It has only been about three weeks, so I guess its probably pretty normal.

I was in church this morning, singing hymns I have always loved.   Songs that remind us of what we have to look forward to when God calls us home.  Songs about the joys and hope of Heaven.  But this time it stirred memories of my Dad lying in bed... dying.  I know where he is and I wouldn't want him back in his tired, achy old body for anything!  But those Hospice days were unforgettable.

I am also having strange thoughts and fears about losing someone else close to me, particularly my children or my husband.

Most of the time I just feel numb.  Maybe that is why the emotions are so strong when they do hit?

I am finding it hard to pray, too.  I feel disconnected from myself and from God.

I am thankful I don't have to go through this alone.  My husband and children are right here with me. They grieve in different ways.  Some of the children have had dreams of Grandpa.  Sometimes one of them will randomly cry, or just go off by themselves.  Today, when I was having a hard time, Dallas listened, and then just held me in his arms for a long time while I rested... and cried.... and rested some more.

Trust and time.  I guess trust and time are the only things to help a grieving person.  Trusting God to get my through this time.


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Crossing the Bridge I Never wanted to Cross

Hallowell Covered Bridge - Madison County

I always knew this was coming.  From the time I was a very little girl, I was regularly reminded that my parents were OLD.  I knew my childhood with my older parents was different than all my friends.  I knew there were plenty of things they could not do with me that they talked about doing with my older brothers and sisters.  I knew I missed out on all the FUN my brothers and sisters had growing up together.  But I had something they didn't have.  TIME alone with Mom and Dad every day!

If life is a road we travel down, it it sometimes rough.  Sometimes it has hidden curves we don't expect.  Sometimes the road is completely gone from under us and we have to cross a bridge.  The bridge I am thinking of is the bridge of losing my parents.  I have dreaded it since I was a little girl. {I thought they were going to die of old age when I was in elementary school, haha!}

On the 4th of July I could see the bridge in the distance.  I sensed that this was Dad's last 4th of July parade.  A week later he fell, and as a result of his pain, his eating was dropped to barely enough to survive.  He talked of dying on a regular basis.  At the end of October that bridge became much closer when Dad was hospitalized with congestive heart failure.  I had a feeling he would make it past Christmas when he could see his family together one last time, then go.  "Christmas" was postponed to January 11 due to weather.  January 10 he was hospitalized again, with congestive heart failure. The hospital said they had never seen so many visitors for one person before. After the draining of the fluids he was sent home to Hospice care because there was "nothing they could do to help him."

We visited him the next day and took lots of pictures with Grandpa... each one of us.  By Saturday the decline was huge.  He didn't recognize me at first. {OUCH!}  Monday he was admitted into the nursing home because he could no longer get himself up to use the bathroom.  For 12 days he laid in bed, mostly sleeping, but showing love until he completely lost control of his body and speech.  Finally on Friday, January 31, 3:30 pm, with his loving wife of 68 years, his two youngest daughters and his only living son at his side, he breathed his last.  RELEASED! from the arthritis pain he suffered with for decades, the shortness of breath he suffered due to a lung mass and fluid in his lungs.  NO more pain.  NO more sorrow.

I am so thankful to have had my parents this long!  Mom was 45 and Dad 51 when I was born!  I never imagined that my own sweet babies would be so blessed as to have memories with them, but they do.  Sweet memories.  Not of Grandpa taking them fishing, or Grandma fixing a fabulous Sunday dinner like their older cousins remember... but knowing that even from their lift chairs, Grandma & Grandpa loved them and were always interested in what they had to say or show them.  It has been hard on all of us, without exception.  

You will be missed, Fillmore Donald Dale!  But we will never forget your smile, your laugh, they way you would always acted like you were going to bite us if we got near your mouth... or your unconditional love.

Mama is so heartbroken, she feels lost.  We are doing our best to show her love and help where possible, but the emptiness has no relief.  It is always there.  That is a lot of pain and stress for a frail 88 year old woman.  As we finish crossing this bridge and put our feet on the ground again after the funeral, another bridge appears in the distance.

NOTE:  At one time, Dad lived up the hill and around the corner from the Holliwell Bridge in Madison County, Iowa.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Thoughts on Mary, Luke 1 & 2


Have you ever taken the time to notice what the Bible says about Mary, the mother of Jesus?  You almost have to read between the lines, because there are only a few comments here and there... often overlooked when you read the Christmas story.  {At least I overlooked them.}  A few years back, I began to notice those little one-liners about Mary that Luke mentioned in his Gospel.

Luke 1:27 "... a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary." 
Virginity is laughed at in our culture today-- but a person's virginity is very precious to God.  If Mary had been a "loose" girl, God never could have chosen her to bear the Son of God!

Luke 1:28  "And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”
What does one have to be like to be  highly favored?  Righteous. Holy. Submissive spirit. Pure in body, mind, and heart.

Luke 1:29  "But when she saw him,{the angel} she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was."
Mary was troubled at first. She was scared!  She knew she would be giving up her flawless reputation.  She took the news patiently, with faith.

Luke 1:34 'Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”'
She wasn't afraid to ask a question.  She wanted to fully understand what was going on.

Luke 1:38 "Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her."  Mary trusted the Lord with all her heart.  Her heart of submission to the Lord was beyond compare.

Luke 1:45 Elizabeth blessed Mary for her faith in the Lord to carry out this honorable task. "...Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.”

Luke 2:6-7 "So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered.  And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn."
Mary gave birth in a barn! {or a cave}.  Is there any documentation of complaining here?  NONE!  She was so patient and trusting.

Luke 2:16  "And they {the shepherds} came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger." Mary was very gracious to allow all these strangers to come visit her new baby immediately after the birth.  She seemed to understand that He was not "her" child, but belonged to the Lord and all mankind.

Luke 2:19  "But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart."  
She didn't call her friends.
She didn't tell everyone.
She didn't even tell her husband!
These things were part of her relationship with God.

Luke 2:22-24  "Now when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male who opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord), and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, “A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”
Luke 2:39  "So when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth."
Matthew 2: 13-15   "Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.”
When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt, and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, “Out of Egypt I called My Son.”
Joseph and Mary were obedient to the law of the Lord.  Just think... they could have been proud and thought, "This is God in the flesh... these rituals for man are not necessary." but the thought never crossed their minds.  They obeyed without hesitation. Had Joseph not obeyed and immediately fled to Egypt, we may not have had a Savior at all!  God knew that Joseph and Mary were the ones whom He could trust to properly care for His only Son!

Luke 2:51  "Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them, but His mother kept all these things in her heart."  Imagine having a son who obeyed in all things?  Pride could have easily crept in at that point, too, but Mary always knew that He was God's Son, and she was only the vessel for Him to carry out His plan.

John 2:1-5 "On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Now both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding. And when they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.   
Mary always believed He was God.  Though He had never yet performed a miracle, she knew He was capable of anything.  She was His number one fan!

There is so much we can learn from Mary!  She is a model of Christian womanhood and motherhood.  She is an inspiration to me: to be a better, more focused mother; to be the "biggest fan" of all of my children! One who ponders things in her heart, rather than blabbing to all.  One who obeys in all things, out of my love for my God, and as an example to them.  Mary is an example for our young daughters, too!  Protecting her virginity, keeping her heart and mind pure.  Waiting for God's calling, and willing to obey whatever He calls them to do!

I hope the next time you read the Christmas story, you, too, will see Mary in a different light.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Other Side

It was just an email.

But the words, to me, were shocking.... and cutting.

They were helpful suggestions but to me were presented in a selfish, judgmental way.  I felt attacked.  I was hurt.

I was angry!  

I knew I shouldn't have let it bother me, but rather just roll with it.  But I just couldn't.  I was too mad!  I also knew that if I didn't handle it properly, I could hurt their reputation, my own, and worse yet, my Savior's.  So I did something I hadn't done for a few weeks.... I went to the Word.  I knew I couldn't face this person, or handle this situation on my own.  I knew I would lash out or slander or accuse and I really really didn't want to do that!  I wanted to honor the Lord, but I just couldn't handle it!

The ladies retreat I had gone to with my church group just a few days prior did a study on Mary and Martha.  I learned a lot about my self during those three retreat sessions!  As I read through the booklet, looking for ways to tame the Martha in me, I found Hebrews 12:14-15:

Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord;
Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God;
lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, 
and thereby many be defiled.

I read this, and re-read it, and re-read it again.  "Lord, I just can't do this!  You have to do it for me!"

Now I know what it is like to be on the other side of the fence; he receiver of such criticism.  How often have I been the one offering "helpful suggestions" that, I am sure, were equally - if not more- harsh and hurtful.

I was also very careful not to talk to too many people about the situation.  I only talked to the necessary people to handle the situation.  I didn't even want to tell Hubby, because I knew his protective hairs would stand on end and I didn't need encouragement to be more angry!  I only told those who could help, and pray.  {I was trying to be wise!}

Thankfully the story has a happy ending!  I knew people were praying for me, and the Holy Spirit was working.  The eve before I had to face this person again, I had peace!  The Spirit of forgiveness I had been asking for came.  I had peace.  When it came time to face the music, God had not only given me peace, but also joy.  I had learned many valuable lessons:

1.  Keep your mouth shut!
2. Take it to the ONE who can fix the situation.
3. Ask for prayers from the people involved-- or the un-involved, 
who have no idea who the offending party is.
4. Submit to the Lord's help for which I so fervently asked.


Monday, April 1, 2013

Easter 2013

Easter is not really the best term for what we celebrate on that holiday.  I prefer "Resurrection Sunday".  That explains what the celebration is all about.

Normally our church goes "all out" for Resurrection Sunday: breakfast, sunrise service, then the usual Sunday school and morning service, with a focus on Salvation.  This year was a little different.  It seemed as though we spent the entire week preparing for Resurrection Sunday.  Beginning last Sunday, we had a special evangelist visiting.  We had revival meetings every night, Sunday through Friday, with the exception of Wednesday night which was our traditional "Crucifixion service" (very special!)  So by the time Sunday rolled around, my heart was clean, I was in fellowship with the Lord Jesus, and was already praising Jesus in my heart for the unspeakable gift He is to us.

There is so much joy in having a close fellowship with the Lord Jesus Himself!  When I am walking in the Spirit, I am not afraid of the things that normally scare me, I have peace.  I am not upset about the things that normally upset me, I am Spirit-controlled.  My mind is on Jesus, not my worries.  I am focussed on my Savior, not my sins.  I have so much to be thankful this "Easter season".

Friday, February 1, 2013

Our New Hobby: Bird Watching

I always thought anyone who thought bird watching was a pleasant past time was either old, eccentric, or just plain boring.  Well, I guess I fall into one of those categories now;-)  Since we have snow this year, we started feeding the birds on the first day of our first snow.  Our first visitors were typical.

 Mr. & Mrs. Cardinal, and some type of snow bird, we have several of these.

 Red-Bellied Woodpecker
He has black & white spots on his back but was too timid to stick around for a good picture.

 Downy Woodpecker
I think he's cute, its a lot smaller than the red-headed or red-bellied ones.  He has a big white strip down his back an all his markings are symmetrical!

 Chickadee {so cute!}

And here is a new {to me} one...
European Starling, they are different colors in different seasons-
More spots in the winter: more black in summer.

A couple of Blue Jays frequently stop by, but not when I have the camera ready. ;-)

We aren't really doing a unit study, but it is fun to hear the kids discussing the bird types.  Even the younger ones are picking up on them.  When I got the starling picture, {I had never seen this bird before} Peter had already found it in the bird book!  He is particularly interested in the birds.  I sort-of put him in charge of feeding them, but Joe likes to do it sometimes, too.

I must add that I really enjoyed photographing them, too!  I used my big lense and it did a great job.  {I was afraid all the fingerprints on the windows would show, but they don't!;-) }

Happy winter!