or so I thought…

claudias-book-quoteYou know, some days just seem to start out a bit more of a struggle than others. Today was one of those struggle days. Struggle to accept changes that are being thrown at me. Struggle just to get started with what’s on my list of “to do’s”. Just a struggle. I really hate days like this. Mostly because it takes hold of your very soul and seems to try to back you into a corner and not let you out. The tears that have been pushed back for so long seem to flow easily and won’t quit.

Why is it so hard to accept the fact that you’re not quite as tough as you’d like the rest of the world believe you are?

Continue reading

love in the shape of a red balloon

Throughout my many days of sitting behind the steering wheel of a combine, you see lots of “things” in the field…old machinery parts, oil buckets, seed bags, dead animals, deer antlers, swimming pools and even kids’ outdoor toys. Most of the machinery parts were lost during the working of the ground or planting of the crop. The rest can be attributed to the wind – except for the dead animals, of course.

I’ve seen a number of helium balloons. Some fields and locations within our harvest journey seem to collect more than usual. It’s almost as if those locations are on some sort of helium balloon jet stream. In my mind, I imagine that after balloons have been set free from the hands who have held them, they make their way into this helium balloon jet stream which carries them as far as it will allow. Then, the balloon that had been gracefully floating through the sky, hits some sort of cloud wall or turbulence, tumbles back to earth and lands in a field.

The fields we cut in Eastern Colorado must be in the direct balloons-falling-back-to-earth path. I used to get excited when I first saw a balloon here or there (I don’t know why). Sometimes I would stop to see what sort of celebration might have been happening at the time the balloon was allowed to enter the balloon jet stream. Birthdays and congratulations seem to make the top of the list.

On one particular September afternoon, while rolling through the millet field, a bouquet of red balloons caught my eye. “Interesting!”, I thought. “This is something you don’t see as often as the typical mylar balloon”. I kept going. Something entered my head, though, that made me back up, stop and get out of the Beast. I wanted to see what it was that made this find so different from the others.

Continue reading

another faith building year

There’s one key element involved in this harvesting game which none of us have control over and that is the weather! This particular piece of the puzzle will either make you or break you.

IMG_5001Right about now, I’m feeling like my invitation was lost in the mail. I know it’ll show up soon…I just have to be patient!

Taylor and I left home early on Tuesday morning. The van was packed to the hilt as we headed south – south to Texas. For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been seeing the loaded combines on Facebook. I’ve felt that feeling before. It was when the girls were little and I had to stay behind. I’ve been feeling a bit left behind.  So, I was thankful to have the Case IH ProHarvest Kickoff as a reason to head for the Longhorn State.

IMG_0524Dan Renaud of Case IH has done this event for the past 18 years. Dan informed the crowd today that after this meeting, he would no longer be employed with Case IH. After working for Case for 35 years, his job was being cut. We’ll miss you, Dan! And thanks for the many years of supporting the US Custom Harvesters!

IMG_0525Day one of two.

The states of Texas and Oklahoma have been battling weather for quite some time. Rain, rain and more rain (and a few tornadoes and hail)! Some places have seen up to 30″ of the wet stuff. If you remember why we haven’t been back to Texas since 2012, it’s because of the drought…and late season freezes. Circumstances have kept us from returning to the great State of Texas this year (mostly because we didn’t have a “for sure” job to head to) but maybe it’s for the best.  This crazy weather has most of the “wheaties” who are in Texas struggling to keep their employees busy and has provided plenty of time to socialize.  And socializing is something you can only do if it’s raining. Those are my most favorite days on harvest – as long as you’re parked in a campground with other harvesters.IMG_5002

The annual kickoff breakfasts began on Tuesday with the MacDon gathering. I’ve never been to these gatherings before. I’m sure if there is wheat to be cut, the socializing is kept to a minimum. Today, however, everyone had plenty of time to enjoy each other’s company. It was almost like a mini convention.  I set up a “booth” with USCHI products to promote the organization a bit more and to sell a t-shirt or two.

IMG_5004

It was after the meeting that I started feeling like the party planner had forgotten to send my invitation. Seeing the loaded combines parading down main street of Frederick, OK made me realize that it was, in fact, harvest time.  The “boys of summer” were making their way back to the small towns for the wheat harvest. The golden wheat fields are just waiting for the combines to do what they’re meant to do.  When? When will this party get started? The harvesters are hoping soon…very soon. BUT, the weather needs to straighten out first. Today I learned that within the past seven days, the tornado sirens have gone off five times. It seems this part of the country can’t get a break from the rain. The lakes and reservoirs are maxed out and overflowing. The Red River is about as wide as it can possibly be. I heard a DJ on the radio talk about all this water. He mentioned that the flooding is bad but it will go away and the lakes will remain full of water. The ranchers and farmers who own cattle are in heaven.

IMG_5003

Taylor and I will start making our way back north tomorrow.  There was no rain here today but the forecast for the next two days shows 60% and 70% chance of rain. If things don’t straighten out soon, I have a feeling it could be a train wreck! If it’s not the wheat going down, it’ll be sprout damage (or both) and can you imagine the mud holes these combines are gonna find? Even though we SHOULD be out here with the rest of the harvesters, I have a feeling that we may have done the right thing this year by staying away from the Longhorn State. I will pray for my fellow “wheaties”. I have a feeling this is shaping up to be one of those faith building years.  One of these years, though, we’re going to have a typical harvest journey again (I hope)!

i will miss you

I will miss you…a statement I’ve heard a couple of times this week. Two different times. Two different reasons. Two different feelings.

Today was the last day of school for the kids in our school district. I had the afternoon bus route to do and was lucky enough to get to endure the it’s-the-last-day-of-school-and-we-don’t-care attitude. While I was waiting for the junior high students to get on the bus, I overheard one telling the other, “I will miss you”. In a day or so, they’ll probably have a ball game bringing them all together again but the day-to-day reason for bringing them together was over for three months. When I heard that statement, it made me think of the last time I heard that statement this week.

IMG_8068This was on Mother’s Day. Grandma wanted to see the flowers that I had given mom.

Grandma was 97 – she had just turned 94 when I wrote this post about celebrating her birthday. I knew she would have to leave us some day. It just happens. For the past several years, Grandma would tell me she wanted to go home, “I think God has forgotten me”.  I would reassure her there was a reason she was still here. She would wonder what that could be since she was confined to a wheelchair after her hip surgery many years ago. I know she didn’t like being where she was and spending the days as she did.  Every time I drove by the Care Center – in a hurry to get something picked up or done – I would wonder what she was doing. And, of course, feel guilty. Grandma was never one to MAKE you feel guilty (she knew how busy our lives were) I just felt guilty for driving past her and not stopping in to say hello.

“Grandma, it’s ok to go home”. That’s what I told her Monday night.

I knew she wasn’t good and the day had been long and it was already 6:30 pm when I went to see her. When I got to her room, my aunt was there. She’d been there all day. I walked up to her and bent low to her face and said, “Hi Grandma! The last time I saw you, you sure didn’t have all this stuff in the way”. She had an oxygen tube wrapped around her ears. The silly thing kept falling away from her nose. I don’t know if it was really doing her any good but I tried to adjust it a bit for her. “It’s choking me”. It really wasn’t but I loosened the band that was keeping it up under her chin – a lot like a child’s cowboy hat.

She grabbed my hand and told me they were cold (which they were). It’s been a rather chilly, rainy spring and this day was no different. I hadn’t even grabbed my coat on the way out the door when I left home. It had been a busy day and I just wanted to go see how Grandma was and I wasn’t thinking about the outside temperature. She held my hand – close to her heart – until it warmed up. We talked small talk. She wanted to know what the girls were doing and how Eli and Nora were. She was slipping but not enough that she still didn’t know what was going on! That’s the amazing thing. For being 97, she was sharp as a tack. “What was Jim up to”? I told her he had been busy for the last month trying to get stuff ready to head south. She wondered when we would be leaving. I gave her the same answer that I’ve been giving everyone – “I don’t know”.

“I hope I get there”. I reassured her she would.

Grandpa has been gone for nearly 30 years already. She learned how to live without him a long time ago. I know right after he passed away, it was very difficult for her. She knew nothing about finances. She hadn’t even learned how to drive a car. She did know how to make a grandchild happy, though, with cookies in the cookie drawer. Her fried chicken and macaroni salad were the BEST. The nurse brought in some soup and juice while I was there. She tried it but said she wasn’t hungry. That’s what made me think about her fried chicken and macaroni salad. We visited about that and all agreed even a beer would be good. Grandma gave a nod of her head in agreement.

“Grandma, when you get there, will you do me a favor”? She looked at me and said she would. I said, “when you get there, will you tell Grandpa I say hello? And will you hold those babies of mine (I had three miscarriages)?” She nodded her head.

Those miscarriages came at different times between the girls. There were two between Jenna and Taylor. And one more between Taylor and Callie. That’s why it’s like we have two families. I even had someone once ask me if the girls were all with the same dad. (couldn’t they tell they all look alike?) Silly, right? I know they’re waiting for me in heaven. But in the meantime, they’ve got some really wonderful Grandma’s who will be more than happy to hold them.

“I will miss you”. That’s when the tears began to flow. “Grandma, I will miss you too”. We hugged. It was the tightest hug I’d felt from her in a long time. It felt as though she didn’t want to let go. 

She was tired. My aunt had told me she hadn’t slept very well the night before. She was struggling to catch her breath and couldn’t relax. Her eyes were closed now so I gently stroked her beautiful, white hair and rubbed her forehead. The whole while I was doing that, I remembered the many times as a young girl she would let me stand on her couch and fix her hair. She was always so patient. So many wonderful memories!

I knew she wouldn’t be as good the next day as she was tonight but she was exhausted. I had to let her rest. I continued to rub her head gently. When I decided I had better leave, she was in a deep sleep. I leaned down and kissed her one more time and quietly left her room. I knew I would never be able to talk to her again and this broke my heart.

I knew she was ready to go and as I walked out the door, I prayed that God would take her without having to endure much pain.

Tonight I drove by the Care Center. I caught myself wondering what Grandma was doing and quickly remembered she was no longer there. Grandma passed away very early yesterday morning. She was where she wanted to go – she was with Grandpa and she was holding those babies.

I will miss you…

 

 

playing an unfamiliar game

Proverbs 6:16-19
There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.

We live in a world where answers to questions are found quickly and conveniently at our fingertips. If you’re ever wondering about something or have questions about something…Google it. I’ve been unknowingly playing a game that I’m not familiar with. I’ve probably been subjected to it many times throughout my life but haven’t been aware until recently there is a name to this game. It’s called bullying.

The personality of a bully is one that I don’t understand. Their game is one that my brain can’t seem to wrap itself around let alone know how to play because I don’t know the rules. You see, I don’t understand why or how someone can purposely hurt another. Why it feels so good to tear someone down or make them look like someone they’re not. I don’t understand a mind that wants to make themselves look bigger and more powerful at the expense of others. I don’t understand the mind of a bully.

Continue reading

the path i have chosen

IMG_7439-e1423325385592-768x1024

I’m headed back home after being in DC this past week. I finally have a bit of time to myself to reflect on the past couple of weeks (actually months) and I find myself wondering where in the world the time went. How could it already be the first week of February? This makes me think about what I have traded my days for.

Continue reading

a generation who can’t let it happen again

I can’t believe it’s been 13 years.

In March, the Z Crew made a trip to New York City. And, of course, the one place we all agreed to visit was the 9/11 Memorial. So, today takes on a whole different feel after actually standing on the same ground where so many died. Being in the city and seeing for myself how it is laid out helped me to understand how chaotic it must have been. But really…how could I know? I wasn’t there.

IMG_3507This was the first time I had ever been in New York so the skyline of the past wasn’t being missed. I didn’t know any different.

Just as there is a generation who don’t know what our world and our country was like prior to 9/11. They don’t know any different.

Continue reading