I know that Fall isn’t official for another couple of weeks, but since it is after Labor Day it is close enough to begin the celebration. Here in northwest Ohio, we are still seeing days in the 70’s, but the nights have become cooler. There is the explosion of pumpkin spice in everything known to man, I actually wore a sweater a couple of mornings this week, and Friday night football is back in session. What is there not to love?
The colors of the late October leaves are muted against the smudged, gray sky. The air is moist, and the wind blows cold as I make my way across the front yard, on my way to the barn, where Jazz anxiously awaits her breakfast. I look up to see geese moving across the sky in formation, their honks reminding me of their arrival. I glance across the field to where our back fence posts share the property line with our neighbors. The fields are now brown, combine machines having worked diligently to harvest in the two weeks previous. The wind causes the stubble that remains, to rustle in the chilly air. This is Autumn in Ohio.
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year”……. okay, so that line from a song is the wrong season, whatever. I am so happy that it is Fall. The other night I watched geese fly overhead in their typical V formation. The soybean fields surrounding my house are turning yellow. (Yes, soybean plants are beautiful in the Fall—unlike corn stalks, which get brown and dry before harvest.) The leaves here, are just barely starting to fade from their summer glory. The nights are cooler. Speaking of weather, I am not pleased that today, the first day of Fall, is supposed to be 87 degrees. What is with that? I am unable to wear all my super cozy sweaters when it is that warm! I still have a box fan going in the house—even with all my Fall decorations now in place, around the house. I am ready to burn my apple/pumpkin/cinnamon candles. Being the weather geek that I am, I watch my local meteorologist every night, live on Facebook, who is kind enough to give all us weather geeks the details. He said Ohio is going to remain in the 80’s well into October. Noooooooooo!!! That just isn’t right, people.
Here is a post from my archives……enjoy it while you sip some hot coffee (or if you are in the same overly warm circumstance as I am….iced coffee).
The other morning I was driving the back country roads with no other cars in sight, on my way to a meeting at the next town over. As always, I was mesmerized by the blue sky, white fluffy clouds and the vastness of the sky out here. The fields, were vivid green with corn and soybean. The landscape dotted with white farmhouses and red barns. On mornings such as this, the world looks like a picture postcard of country living. I took that moment to thank God. Saying “thank you” is so simple, and yet, so profound.
In acknowledging the beauty of nature, I am, in fact, acknowledging the beauty and creativity of the Creator of it all. It is He, that is the giver of gifts.
Instead of focusing on all the things that are wrong, or uncomfortable, or boring in life, I choose to focus on the good. Make no mistake, choosing thankfulness is always a choice. When I focus on the problems, life can seem so small. It makes me feel grouchy and short with others, and causes worry. When I fill my mind with gratitude and thanksgiving, my world might not change, but I most definitely do. Might that be the reason why God tells us over and over again in His Word, to give thanks? So that we can experience, the joy?
Being thankful changes my perspective, and it changes me. I find myself much more appreciative of my life and all that is in it. I’m not perfect, nor is my life. I’ve had my share of wonderful experiences and painful tragedies in the forty-eight years I’ve walked this earth. This day, choose to walk through your life with your hands open to receive all the gifts that God daily gives…….and, be changed.
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. 1 Chronicles 16:34 NIV
Life gets busy and I fall into bed at night, exhausted.
My to do list is long and my need to rest is even longer.
There are days when I go from one thing to the next,
forgetting to live in the moments that are now.
Stop. Slow down. Look around.
I whisper, “Thank you, God, for these moments.”
I don’t want to miss them. Not now. Not ever.
Being thankful is a gift in itself, and there is always so much to be thankful for.
I read The Wind and the Willows as a child, and because of that I am feeling some guilt over the story I am about to tell you…….
It all started a few days ago. My husband was laying down river rock in our front flower beds. (The reason we have river rock in our flower beds, is a whole other story, but it will suffice to say, we have dogs. Dogs that like to dig. Dogs that like to chew. Dogs that like to dig up entire bushes and carry them, root ball and all, to the four corners of the earth. Dogs that live out the words, UTTER DESTRUCTION.) So anyway, as he is working out front, the dogs figured out that something was under the stone steps that lead up to the porch. That is all it took for the barking and digging to commence. There is no stopping them when they get like this. My husband noticed dirt flying OUT of the hole—and not by the dogs. We had found a couple of good sized turtles and thought that might be what was digging. Then two days ago, when I was walking out to the barn, I saw the end of the flower bed (aka rock bed) was dug up. They were after something again! I gave all the dogs a stern talking to, letting them know that this was not acceptable behavior to allow our front flowerbeds to look like someone had dropped a bomb in our front yard. They sat quietly and listened to me, but the second I turned my back they took off. Dogs are like perpetual toddlers. Just sayin’.
Last night my husband and I were out, it was starting to get dark when we returned home. As we pulled into the driveway, our headlights landed on three dogs standing around something laying in the yard. Living with a pack of dogs out in the sticks, one can never be sure what said object might be. My husband went over to investigate. He said that he thought it was a rat. Just then Mitford (not yet two year old, Collie mix) grabbed it and took off across the yard, then dropped it again. It was big, whatever it was. Now, I had my doubts that it was a rat. I lived in the city for years, and we had rats (not inside!) that would eat dog food. Those rats were the size of opossums. They would stand up on their haunches and stare at me with their beady little eyes, daring me to catch them. I was completely freaked out and usually ran off screaming. Around here, we have field mice that pretty much are the size of my pinkie finger. I still am not friends with rodents, but they are more manageable. I digress……I told my husband I thought it might be a mole, but it was too dark to really tell.
This morning I was ready to head to the barn. I will readily admit I looked like the “What Not To Wear” page in Glamour magazine. My outfit consisted of a pair of paint stained University of Tennessee shorts, an oversized gray t-shirt with a hole in it, and my knee high rubber boots (a country girl’s best friend). Whatever people, don’t judge. Seriously, when one is going to muck a stall, who cares what I look like? Jazz loves me regardless. On the way over to the barn, I decided to investigate last night’s “kill”. I found it in the yard, the dogs all gathered around me, as if to say, “We did this for you. Receive our gift as a token of our undying love and devotion and well, we just like to chase things and catch things, and sometimes kill things. Sorry. We’re dogs, after all.” (Pant. Pant. Pant. Slobber. Slobber.) It was indeed, a mole. His little mole “hands” stuck up in the air, like he had just finished a “Praise Jesus” chorus. Rest in peace little guy. Your digging days are over. Just then Mitford licked me. With his mole tongue. Sad thing is, that doesn’t even phase me anymore. Whatever. I can wash off when I get back to the house. If, by any chance, there is some rampant mole disease going around, that I don’t know about, well then, I guess I’m a goner. Now, my husband is going to fix the flower bed, and the holes around the stone steps. Hopefully, this mole doesn’t have an entire mole family mafioso, that will now target our dogs for extinction, to avenge the death of their dear mole father. Or worse yet…..take out their revenge on our flower (um…rock) bed.
And people think the country life is boring and slow……..they know nothing! #lifecanbescaryoutontheprairie
The neighbors across the road have llamas. I never knew how much I loved llamas until my family moved here. Our little slice of heaven has a llama field directly across from our house. The llamas often greet me at the mailbox, their ears turned in like fuzzy question marks.On occasion some of the llamas break free from the confines of the fenced in area. Have you ever seen a llama jump a fence? It is not unlike a deer, as far as that goes. Of course, they are taller than a deer, but are about as silly, as neither knows to get out of the road. Standing in the middle of the road is not safe…..if you are a deer, a llama, or a human being for that matter. Move it, my furry friends! Sometimes the llamas will decide the grass really is greener on the other side, and trounce their way to our front yard for a snack. I do not fancy myself the “lord of the lawn” or “the grass master” (that is my daughter, actually) …..so I don’t really care if they snack on our yard, eh….as long as they are helping to keep the grass down. Besides, it gives the dogs some fun and excitement. Oh, there is also a brand new cria (baby llama). Picture a black and white cotton ball on stick legs. My husband and I got some pictures the other day. His were better than mine. It never fails. Every time I go to take a picture, the subject moves! Then it sort of resembles a blur. Just use your imagination.
This morning I was sitting at the kitchen counter, scanning through Facebook posts, as I am wont to do, when all of a sudden I heard them. My ears are attuned to all things llama. The boys were fighting! I grabbed my phone and ran out to the front porch. I turned the video on my phone. Of course, my phone does not zoom in well and it was too far out to really do a good job of videoing. Although the picture is not zoomed in, one can really hear the llamas (they are extremely noisy when going at each other!). Young male llamas like to neck wrestle each other. Usually it has to do with dominance and territory. One of the llamas neck wrestled the other to the ground but, wait…….he popped back up, bellowing at the top of his lungs. Just like two teenage boys fighting. During the entire video I am giving “Wild Kingdom” commentary. Great stuff, people. I might have missed my calling in life. Of course, at the end of the video, one can hear my dogs standing beside me panting (I promise it is them, not me), and then I can’t get the video off and so you get to see my feet and part of my front porch before I mercifully end the show. I never claimed to be a videographer, people. (I was going to attempt to download the video because it is only two minutes long. Alas, living out in the sticks, there is no fast download of video. I might post it tomorrow, because it will probably take that long to load!)
I love living in the country! City living might be more convenient, but one can’t see llamas in the city….and that is really sad for you. I, on the other hand, can watch all the llama drama right from my front porch. #greenacresistheplaceforme #llamalove #llamadrama
School is out for the summer, my students are excited. My grad school assignments for the week are completed. I have no appointments today. I’ve already done the grocery shopping for the week. Everything is pretty much done….so I am taking today as my mini vacation. I will blog. I will journal. I will play with the dogs. I will read. I will watch a marathon of X-Files, this evening, with my husband.
I need today.
Time to breathe. Time to ponder. Time to do nothing, but just be still.
How many times have I been guilty of rushing around, finishing things, checking items off my lists, proofreading that paper, meeting with people to the point of exhaustion?
I appreciate these days of doing nothing, which are few and far between. These days turn out to mean everything.
Thank you, Lord……that I can find rest, and peace, and joy in You.
Psalm 62:5 “Yes, my soul, find rest in God: my hope comes from him.” Amen.
Like sand through the hourglass….so are the days of my life. (Hmmmm, I think I may have heard that phrase somewhere)
I turned forty-eight yesterday. Getting older hasn’t really bothered me, per se. I mean, what’s the alternative, right? I’m not upset about being just two years away from FIFTY, but I do find it rather shocking. The other day, some classmates from high school were talking about having a thirtieth reunion this Fall, for the class of 1986. In my mind, the eighties were last week. Does that prove I’m aging?!
Is my life perfect? No. Whose is? We all live in a world that is full of great joys, and intense tragedies, highs and lows, ups and downs. One can’t get away from that. The truth is, each different season of life is special and unique in its own way. I really would not want to go back in time. (Well, a good friend of mine posted a picture of the two of us when we were twenty-one. Although I like the wisdom that comes with age, I wouldn’t mind still having the bod of a twenty-one year old….) In the midst of the every day, I find myself stopping and appreciating. There is a lot to be said for being in the moment, and going through one’s life with eyes wide open. Out here in rural Ohio, I often find myself driving down back country roads to get to my various destinations. I admire the green, green, grass, the bright blue sky, the open space, the black and white cows that are trying to nibble on the other side of the fence, and the hawk circling high over a field. I think about my family that loves me and whom I love right back, a husband who makes me laugh, kids who are now young adults, the comfortable house I live in with land to roam, and my (fairly decent) health.
It has been about five or six years ago since I first read Ann Voskamp’s book, One Thousand Gifts. (you can read my posts here and here) Her book spoke to me about what it means to be truly thankful for all the ways that God blesses. I will admit, it is a struggle some days to see the blessings when all I want to do is be a grump. When the cat pukes and I have to clean it for the umpteenth time, or the flowerbeds are overgrown with weeds, and the dog digs up my last surviving bush. The days when my children grow up and become more and more independent and I realize my opinion isn’t as important as it used to be. Broken dishes, broken promises, and broken hearts. Some days I force myself to stop, breathe, and start counting out loud, all the ways I am thankful, and all the ways I am loved. God is so good. Even on the hard days.
One day it truly dawned on me (pun intended), that I most likely, have more days behind me, than I do ahead of me. It is highly unlikely that I will live to be one hundred. You want to know something? I’m okay with that. That might sound weird, especially in a society that is so driven by youth and beauty. My days are just as important to me now, maybe even more so, than when I was in my twenties. I know I appreciate them more. I don’t pretend to have all the answers to life’s questions, and on many days I am struggling to understand just like everyone else.
Today I am able to say that life is good and I am happy.
Today’s challenge finds me describing what is outside my kitchen window.
It is a chilly damp day, here in Ohio. We are currently in that “in between” time. Winter is pretty much over, but Spring has not yet shown up. We are in the gray time of the year. The grass is brown and dull, the sky is the color of slate, with a few breaks, where blue sky and sunshine leaks through. My gravel driveway has multiple mud puddles, that the dogs always seem to find. Across the road, and past my mailbox, I see some of the llamas grazing in the wet field. The trees, still barren and leafless, stretch their limbs into the sky, seemingly to scratch at the gray that surrounds them. They wait impatiently for new life. Beyond the grouping of trees, I see our farmer neighbor’s wetland lake. A low spot in his field has become home to wild ducks, geese, and frogs. I enjoy the orchestrated sounds of nature that I am able to hear each day.
What is outside your kitchen window?