Sunday, July 24, 2016

Change

Wow. How things change in just a month. Spring came early since things were dry and crops went in very smoothly. Our May rains were just enough and in June our yards turned brown.
Our conversations would talk about hoping for cool nights, heavy dews, and higher humidity to keep the crop from looking like pineapple plants. Although the crop was hanging in there the U.S. drought map showed southern Iowa was in an area short of rainfall.
We prayed for rain, and at church we reminded our Pastors to pray for rain. We started wondering how corn pollination would go in normally dry July weather. July came. And it started to rain. At our house, we have received more rain in July than April, May, and June combined. We quickly ask God for help when we have needs. We need to privately and publicly say thank you when He answers.
Remember when I visited with you about watering sweet corn from the pond? Well, we did sweet corn all week and it was a good crop. The hardest part this year in our patch was the picking it off the ground since it blew over.
30 years ago Cargill/Eddyville put up a corn processing plant in our area. Farmers and grain elevators knew it would be a significant change and wondered how everyone would be effected. In 1991 Ray, who was a dairy farmer, started working for Cargill. He became the corn merchant and bought millions of bushels of corn per year for 25 years.
In partnership with Jerry, our friend and landlord, we hosted a retirement open house Friday evening for Ray at our cabin. About a 100 folks came by with well wishes. 
Most of our crop goes to Eddyville at harvest time. Our family will miss Ray and we wonder what the change will look like. We wish Ray, his wife Pat, and their three grown children the best as they start the next part of their lives. Our family has met Brenda, Ray's replacement. We feel positive about the future.
Well, as usual fair week was forecasted to be hot and it was. We were able to watch grandkids show their projects.
Yesterday morning was the annual pancake breakfast for everyone before the 4-H auction.
4-H is good for kids. It teaches them responsibility. It teaches them how to interact with adults. It teaches them bookkeeping and the possibility of profit or loss on a project. It helps families come together as a community. We saw that happen yesterday a couple of times reaching out to folks who had experienced a loss this year.
And now it's over for another year. 4-H boxes, fans, wheel barrows, shovels, campers, and equipment all cleaned up, packed up, and headed home. Another change. Summer is flying by.
We need to take time to enjoy every day and every relationship we have been given while we have the chance. Weeks, months, and seasons fly by and sometimes we get caught up spending a lot of time worrying about things that never happen. And forget to enjoy the now. Because someday, maybe soon, things change.
The second thing I want to remind you and myself is what we concentrate our efforts on. People are so much more important than things and rules. I've yet to see a u-haul trailer heading for the cemetery behind a hearse. Since everything is God's in the first place we need to hang on loosely.
One thing has stayed the same for 6000 years with few exceptions. We come to earth created for a purpose. We live here a few short years. And we leave. Are we fulfilling our purpose? Will we make a difference? How will folks remember us? In all the changes around us God is our steady constant. He continually helps us. And He wants us to say thank you by helping others. Have a good week.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Working Together

Sometimes you just need to be thankful for what doesn't happen. As Mike was backing his dozer off the lowboy near Blakesburg the uneven highway shoulder caused him to slide off the beavertail. Mike pushed himself down in the seat and rode it out.
Several hours later he was back on his tracks with little damage.
About mid week we had a strong wind come through and blow down some corn.
 This is a neighborhood east of Oskaloosa. This family lost 30 trees.
 Friday Brian, Ezra, Elliott, Gideon,John, and I cleaned up an uprooted tree on my parents property.
 Saturday afternoon Josh, Gideon, John, and I cleaned up a couple of loads of tree branches on our local Christian School property.
 Jan and I like to go on Ranger rides and look at crops. We seldom know where we will end up. On this particular ride we ended up at cousin Stan's. His grandsons had helped him clean up his tractors.
Along with the storms and strong winds have come some welcome rains. It looks like there will be corn to harvest. Our crew all worked together to prepare the cornheads for fall.
 We had a good crew unloading hay in our landlord Jerry's barn.
 BJ and Cassia's kids latest addition is a bucket bottle buffalo.
 We worked together at Becky and Brian's and got some fence in for their bucket bottle calf.
 Of course everyone helps out including Harris.
 Becky inherited awesome cooking skills from her mother. I think we all ate three meals there.
We had these guys last weekend while Becky and Brian helped with a wedding in Missouri. They came along for our weekly visit with Rosie.
I got up early this morning for our weekly visit and had no internet. So after several cups of coffee, a visit with Mike who came by, and checking in on Jan after a lightening storm, we finally were able to blog after the weather settled down. Have a great Sunday.


Sunday, July 10, 2016

The Smell Of Tassels

After a couple of rain showers last week the country side is covered in corn tassels. In early mornings and late evenings you can smell the tassels and silks as the corn plant starts the process of making an ear.
 The smell of corn tassels is a gift, announcing things are happening. And it is a promise that we are another step closer to harvest.
 Every year we worry about whether or not we will have a crop. Will we be able to provide, to pay the bills, to share with those less fortunate?
 And every year God shows He is faithful and looks forward to taking care of our needs. Yesterday BJ combined his rye.
 I stopped in occasionally at Karl and Kristin's just to keep an eye on things. They and Kurt and Emily get back today from taking some time off in Colorado with the girls' parents. 
 Mike called me on the 4th of July and asked if I had some time to help. My friend Dana tells me, "If your going to make a mistake, make it at full speed."
 We soon had things back on their wheels and after a good greasing Mike was back in business.
I spent some time near Huxley this week learning what's coming down the pipe as far as new seed technology for next year.
 Last Sunday evening we enjoyed time as family and friends at the kid's campsite in a cornfield along the Des Moines River.
 Last evening our community got together in the city square for food, fellowship, and a concert. I think this is a benefit of small rural communities and should continue to be promoted. 
 Small rural communities also hurt together when there is a loss. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Scott and Sandy and all their extended families as they grieve the loss of Rueben this past week.
Yesterday the Family Leader put on a leadership summit where Ann Graham Lotz talked about prayer and Del Tackett talked about loss of absolutes but how God has been keeping a remnant in our country for His purposes.
 I saw this picture of cousins six years ago at Kurt and Emily's wedding. Wow. How time flies.
 These are those same cousins today hanging out and helping Grandpa.
 Since my sister Beth is visiting my family got together at Doug and Ginger's house for supper. These are my brother Bill and Julie's kids, Matt and Hannah. It seemed like just last week they were growing up. Today they have kids of their own.
 The smell of tassels is a promise. A promise that things are happening and God is in control. At times our country seems out of control. We don't know whether we are approaching our final days or our finest days. We do know God calls us to be faithful and part of the process.
Ephesians 2: 10 says that we are God's workmanship and He has created us to do good works, which He prepared in advance for us to do.
 

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Celebrating July

It's a holiday weekend. Summers in Iowa include vacations, parades, fairs, sweet corn, family, and friends. These boys are enjoying summer. They were helping Brian and I cut and load firewood, and are waiting for Jan to finish lunch.
Mike spent time on a building pad for John and Glenda near Pella this week.
Karl has been given the love of gardening from his mother. He has melons, pumpkins, cucumbers, green beans, and sweet corn.
About mid week we decided things needed a drink. This is Karl backing the hog honey pump into our pond.
We loaded water into Mark's old honey wagon that he uses to keep the dust down on their motocross track.
We hauled seven loads to our sweet corn. Karl hauled several loads to his house. We even watered down the gravel road to reactivate the dust control. Manual watering reemphasizes what a blessing rain is and Thursday morning we were blessed with our first significant rain shower in 3 weeks
This is Adi making some flower arrangements from her mother, Cassia's, flowers.
Becky called and said she needed to take Ezra in for stitches so Harris and I hung out one afternoon while I watched the boys.
Our church has been having a second morning service once a month where we are encouraged to invite our friends and neighbors.
I asked Edgar to come. Edgar is a walking history book and Becky has interviewed him before and recorded his stories. Those of you that know Edgar will be surprised to know that his mother was a college graduate. Edgar's mother was self taught at home. Her first formal education was William Penn Academy at the time. She then went to Chicago University where she received her P.H.D. She came back home to Iowa to be a college professor at William Penn however the college burned down during the early 1900's. Since she no longer had a job opportunity there she ran a coal mining company for 14 years and her son, Edgar, went into the dirt work business. 
Our church has potlucks at these guests services. Our gals are good at potlucks and Edgar had a wonderful time eating and enjoying the fellowship. I hope Edgar can join us again soon.
Farm Bureau sponsored a teacher ag day. Stacy is on the Farm Bureau board and helped host the event. Below Mark is talking and demonstrating about crops.
Our church has a seminary student helping us this summer. Scott and Becca have two little girls and are with us for about eight weeks. Scott wisely mentioned he would like to have more than just a Sunday experience and relationship with the congregation.
On Wednesday afternoons Scott and I go around and meet church members on their turf. Irv is showing Scott how to tile.
Thursday evening our kids took me out for supper for my birthday.
Well, since only the adults were going out for supper who was going to take care of all the grandkids?
Some very brave nieces babysat 17 kids. Thanks to Olivia, Ki, and Mariah for helping us out.
Parades are common in small town rural Iowa and Friday evening everyone was in Leighton for supper, candy, fellowship, fireworks, and a good time.
It was a beautiful evening and a number of friends and neighbors had their old cars and tractors there. Below is Ken and Joyce in their restored convertible.
It was a family event for Tunis and his 57 Chevy. Diane, Connie, and Jim were along. It was so good to see Tunis back on his feet after some health issues.
Celebrating with family in Iowa in July is a blessing. Below is a wife, a daughter, and five daughter-in-laws who I love dearly. In John 17 Jesus is talking to God and says, "My prayer is not for the world but for those you have given me because they belong to You. Protect them by the power of your name so they will be united just as we are."