Wednesday, June 27, 2007


The thistle is a common noxious weed that grows along the roadside and in pastures here in Kansas. It is an enemy to the farmer; a loathsome nuisance that taunts and sweeps across the prairie like a stickery green wildfire. Crop dusters fly low over grassy fence rows to stop the thistle before the wind scatters its seeds over the land; punctuating its words in mid sentence.

I know it's a weed, but on this particular night against the blush of dusk, I saw its beauty. Soft, feathery plumes were gilded in golden twilight as it rose above the earth in perfect proportions, the curtain of blue opening on its elegant entrance.

Loveliness comes in many forms. Ask any mother who has received a bouquet of dandelions from her child and she will tell you she prefers it over orchids. A card painstakingly made by a man in love far outweighs any Hallmark greeting. A watercolor created by little hands claims front row position over the best of paintings. It truly is all in the eye of the beholder.

Next time you're looking for beauty, look closer. Though the obvious may initially catch your eye, it is the unique and unassuming that will eventually capture your heart.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Capturing the Moment

Often when we take pictures, we're looking for that perfect pose; eyes gazing into the camera's lens...a perfect smile...that ever so slight tilt of the head...beautiful background, perfect lighting, subjects posed, centered, ready.

This particular photograph doesn't fit into that category, yet it captured a moment perfectly; my daughter's goofy and gleeful mood, my dear friend Cathy behind us as we stopped time for just an instant. We were enjoying this day, this time together with the wind in our hair and sun on our faces. It is a true snapshot of our lives as they really are: unposed, joyful, real.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Shining Your Light

"Hide not your talents;
for use they were made!
What's a sundial
in the shade?

Life is a risky business. There are no guarantees of how things will turn out or what we'll encounter along the way. Sometimes it's easier to hide; shrouding ourselves in shadows so we won't be exposed to rejection, disappointment, pain.

But life isn't meant to be lived that way. Each of us has talents and dreams; individual charms and bouquets of uniqueness that set us apart. We are meant to be seen and to see; to share and to give. By offering what we have to the world, we are able to come out of the shadows and into the light, illuminating not only ourselves, but our fellow man.

"This little light of mine,
I'm gonna let it shine...!"

Friday, June 22, 2007


Today while visiting some of my favorite blogs, I came across The Mad Hatter's - "In the Middle". I began reading and found that she had given me the "Rockin' Girl Blogger" badge. Thank you, Martie! Now it's my turn to bestow the honor on five of my favorite gals:

Martie - It is time to return the favor. You are definitely on my list! Your comments and support these past two years have been a blessing and I appreciate you so much! Your writing is always upbeat and centers around your family and loved ones. Though we've never met, I can tell you are a beautiful person whose spirit shines in all that you do. (You can also read Martie's other blog here.)

Mellissa - I started reading your blog through another's, but soon came to know you for the lovely woman you are. You take me to a world that I would never know otherwise, sharing your travels and beautiful photographs of places beyond my reach. I have so enjoyed walking a path with you and look forward to what you will share in the future.

Clew - My talented, fiery friend! Your writing is eloquent and moving and I so admire your energy and wit! It is obvious how much you love your little guy and the wisdom you are learning by being his mother. Though your writing is fewer and farther between these days, whenever you speak you always have something of worth to say; something we can all learn from. I miss you!

Kelly - You are my newest 'read' in the past two years I've spent on blogger, but reading your words is like a breath of fresh air. You are young and vibrant, with a soft heart and enchanting voice, and I know you are meant for great things in this world. Believe in yourself and in your wisdom. Your heart is in the right place and will take you where you need to go.

Melange - When I have precious little time, yours is the blog I go to first. If ever we were to meet, we would instantly "know" one another - I see it in your writing. Your photographs are inspiring, truly a work of art and you always have the perfect quote to start my day. You know exactly, the deep love I have for my children as you share the same for your beautiful Nyssa. You are truly a treasure in this fascinating world of 'blog'.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Growing Up Country

On the wall in our office hangs a picture, painted by my mother. She created it around 1970 while sitting at the kitchen table of our home on the farm. The view is from the south, looking northward to the house, across the sweep of golden wheat. In the distance is the grain truck we lovingly called, "Old Blumity" and closer to the observer's eye is my father on the cab-less Massey Ferguson combine.

My mother named this painting, "Panic". For any farmer who has ever tried to get his harvest in as a thunderstorm rumbles across the prairie, this title needs no explanation. I remember being in the fields as the sky darkened and lightning flashed in the distance, watching my dad as he fervently went around and around. Though my parents never showed much outward dismay, I knew that it was always a race against the weather to get the crops in.

Sometimes I would be on the combine with Dad, but mostly I remember riding in the truck. I would usually sit next to my mother, straddling the long gear shift as we rumbled along. My preferred place to be, however, was in the bed filled with dusty wheat kernels. We would bury our toes in the rich wheat, riding beside lazy grasshoppers as we barreled into town. The sides would sway with the weight as we drove up onto the hydraulic lift at the elevator. Most of the time, that was our signal to jump out while the wheat was being dumped.

One afternoon, my father told my sister and I that we could stay in the back of the truck while the truck was lifted and the back gate opened to let the wheat slide out. What fun we had slipping and sliding, and I can still hear our laughs and screams as we held onto the faded wooden bed! We thought we were defying the odds since a sign above the lift read, "Ride at your own risk", and I'm sure that we were pushing the rules. But it's a memory that my sister and I recall over the years and smile when we think about those treasured days on the farm.

When my mother used to draw or paint she would always say: "Remember, I'm not a camera!" In those days film and developing were an expense we couldn't always afford, so there are precious few pictures of my early childhood years. But I have only to look at this painting for perfect recollection of the smell of wheat dust, sunshine on my face and the wondrous feeling of what it was like growing up country.

Saturday, June 16, 2007


Recently I walked the campus of a small college in Oklahoma. I delighted in the little alcoves tucked into out-of-way places, marveled at the art work carved in stone, and stepped up into the gazebo where I could look out over shiny red benches and the impressive clock tower.

But it was the magnolias that fascinated me the most. Planted sporadically throughout the front lawn, the trees were filled with blossoms, and having never seen them before, I was enchanted. The flowers were initially tucked up behind shiny green leaves but upon closer inspection I was thrilled to find blooms of ivory perfection.

Of all the inspiring and intriguing architecture, the beautiful paintings and sculptures, and the captivating words that move our souls, there is no artistry as breath-taking as nature. Every spring we are given life anew as a gift to savor and care for. How wonderful that we are the beneficiaries who can relish what's been given into our safekeeping. And how humbling to know we are the stewards who will pass it on so that others can take pleasure in its beauty.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


It's wheat harvest in Kansas. Combines roll out from their winter seclusion and one lane roads make way for the wide berth of headers and rumbling grain trucks. Golden plumes of wheat dust rise above John Deere green on the prairie landscape, and the co-op hums a harvest tune as grain is weighed and emptied from beds.

Farming is a serious thing. And it's a family thing. Each person plays a role in a successful harvest, whether it's bringing meals to the field, cutting the wheat or hauling it to town. It takes sunshine and hot temperatures, sweat and tolerance, patience and perseverance. And it takes faith. Faith that crops survive and thrive through the elements of a sometimes harsh climate. Faith that machines will make it through the seasons. Faith to plant again, even after hail, freeze or drought steals away the hope and plans of the here and now.

I watch as the combine cuts a wide swath; the wheat heads succumbing to the sharp teeth that pull them up into the bin as an ever-growing patch
of stubble trails behind. Its belly now full, the powerful machine rolls across the stiff stalks - heads up - as the auger swings to the side. The grain is lifted through the shoot and pours into the truck's bed like golden rain, skirting into every corner. Now empty, the combine returns to the field for another round. The grain truck makes its way to the elevator while the farmer hopes for low
moisture and high bushels for his acreage.

Most years it is an exciting time. Men gather in the morning for coffee while its too wet to cut to discuss prices and problems and help one another out when someone gets behind or falls ill. Mid-day sees a flurry of activity as the monstrous machines consume the wheat and everyone gives right of way to those who provide our bread.

This year has been different. It was a difficult spring. A late freeze did major damage to the crops. Add strong winds and flooding and the results are sobering. Many of the farmers are discing their fields, burning them off and taking their losses this season. Others are cutting at 1/3 of what they normally bring. There is insurance, but it doesn't cover the hours of toil, the hopes, the dreams. It is only monetary and cannot take away discouragement or give back time.

If it were anyone else, any other job, it would be over. Terminated. I quit. But it is the American farmer; people who are stoic and strong, who may stumble at times, but always, carry on. It isn't just a job, it's their living - their life. So it has been since the pioneers walked their rows, laden with thick straps across clumsy oxen and so it shall continue. It is a right of passage, a legacy that is carried proudly from generation to generation.

The first line of the FFA Creed states it best:

"I believe in the future of agriculture, with a faith born not of words, but of deeds."

There is another generation that believes in their future of working the land and raising livestock. The faith doesn't come from lofty promises with gilt-rimmed edges, but from watching and learning from parents and grandparents and from working alongside of them. They see the reward of contribution to the world and togetherness of a family. They look ahead and believe that the days of sunshine will outweigh the days of darkness. Despite the setbacks, despite the odds, they love the land and their heritage. It is a faith not just born, but alive and filled with hope.

The American Farmer. God bless them.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Outside the ACT

Even though school is out, the studying never ends. Saturday was an ACT testing date and five students from our community traveled south to take this extensive exam. It began at 8:00 and lasted until noon, so while the kids were testing, a friend and I walked the grounds of the college campus, taking photographs and catching up. It was a beautiful day and that time was a much needed respite from the week.

As for the students, they emerged with taxed minds and ready stomachs!

Friday, June 08, 2007

Moment of Joy

Part of the reason I share my writing here is to hopefully inspire others. Perhaps by reading my words, people will stop running so fast through life and pause to consider their blessings. Maybe they'll see their own children differently, realize how quickly time goes and cherish the people that are closest in their lives.

But another reason I write is for myself; to journal memories that happen along the way that, for one reason or another, stand out. Though there are so many places I'd love to go and so many things I'd like to do, I've learned to savor the everyday moments that are the true stepping stones of my life.

These photographs are one of those, "You really had to be there" moments. There's no way that I can describe the absolute hilarity that was going on inside the car nor the laughter that filled it! It was one of those times when you can barely breathe from laughing so hard and when the tears you shed are from pure happiness. I've always believed it is joy and those child-like times that bookmark the greatest pages of our lives.

Today I write this post for me, to savor this memory and carry it into the future. Time has a way of stealing away seemingly insignificant things. But today I'll stop its thievery, capture this day and in doing so, always remember this moment of laughter and joy.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Growing Up

There is so much about you that I love: your quirky personality, your wisdom to always do the right thing, your courage to try something new, your loyalty to friends, your beautiful auburn hair and your fun-loving spirit - just to name a few. I can't believe how fast you've grown and how far you've come. You are a light that illuminates our home and touches our hearts.

I want time to stop, at least for awhile. I need to get used to the idea that you are really growing up....

Sunday, June 03, 2007

For the Love of it

My son loves basketball. He spends hours outside the school shooting baskets with friends, watches every game he can on television and is in constant motion as he jumps for invisible balls and backboards. He loves basketball. But it isn't his passion.

His dad also loved the game, playing in high school, college and beyond. It was always a big part of who he was, and it was something that drove him in everyday life. This weekend he came down to help coach our son's team as they played in a large tournament on the WSU campus. He watched, somewhat frustrated as our younger child held back, choosing caution over assertiveness. He could have jumped higher, shot more often, fought for it harder. We cheered from the sidelines, supporting our young man who loves the game, but doesn't want it to be his life. And that is all right.

When we have children, we set certain expectations of what they will be like. But we can't set their dreams. I see attributes in both of our kids that I can claim or that I recognize from their father. But when push comes to shove, they are who they are. Sometimes they don't live the life that we had envisioned for them. Often they surpass it.

Part of being a parent - a large part of being a parent - is unconditional love. You support your child, you encourage his dreams, whether they match yours for him or not. You see his potential for the direction of his choosing and acknowledge the fact that he is a separate and special individual.

So my dear son, play the sport with what you have. Keep that perpetual smile and kindness. You may not be the best, the fastest, the strongest, but in my book you are MVP no matter where you are. And in the game of life, that's what really counts.