The Mediocre Level


I wrote this piece not this week but prior.  Today as I decide to actually publish it I’ve felt pretty well.  In fact, the last few days have been good.  Writing allows me to process and move forward.  Not always staying ahead but not falling as far back as I once would is more of a normal thing now. I call that progress.

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I hate that my parents died. I hate that the questions go unanswered and the memories are all I have.   I feel broken from that stint I did in 2013. I hate that the confidence I used to feel inside me has been replaced with the lack thereof and the fear of the unknown.

The task of analyzing oneself can be taunting and at times the individual may find themselves grasping to get their head above water.

Currently I do not feel I am doing any area of my life with much excellence.  The ability to be exceedingly good at something has fallen from my life it seems.  I would say I am more in the “do what I need to and get by mode.”  I’ve been running on auto pilot for sometime now.  There’s been a couple of times I’ve began with a mindset of success to only find I fall into that mediocre level once again.  Even in the times of my life (pre-2013) when I was challenged, whether personally or professionally, I still had one or two areas of life I was above average in.

As you can tell the “analyzing” oneself has recently occurred in my life and it has brought a less than stellar mojo around!  Some of you are probably saying right now, “but Julie you are doing this and this and this so well!”  But in reality I’m not.  I’m doing just enough for it to “look” okay.

I’m not falling apart, I’m just looking reality in the face at the moment.  It’s not an “upper” but the “downer” part might be what I need to face to move forward.  I can no longer be the leader of all areas of my life and do it with grace.  And it’s driving me nuts!

I can look back and see when the strength that my mother instilled in me began to fall away.  The turmoil and wreckage of an experience finally got to me and altered my everyday life.  I may be fooling myself, perhaps those traumatic experiences as a child altered me too, but until I was in my 40’s I was capable of  handling  things.  Three consecutive experiences took me to my knees and it’s hard to get up, even almost four years later.

I suppose this is where I would normally write the lines of postivity and a mantra of things to get me “re-booted”.  Well this time I’m not.  I am not going to sit in the depths of despair but I will close with this.

One.  One positive thing a day.  I shall pluck one little thing from my day that I did well and place it at the top of my thoughts.  I will bask in the glory of even the simplest task I did that was good.  Where will that lead me?

Julie

Sewing Generations Together


K, my middle daughter  had a close relationship with my mother.  It was closer than I ever had with Mom and at times I will admit I was jealous.  But my mother and I were quite different, just as my daughter is from me. With both relationships I can see more of myself in my mother than I ever thought and the same with my daughter and me. There were hiccups made along the way by all parties, but we never let that completely break the bond of family.

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The relationships we have with family, in my opinion, is what enhances what we are or will become.  Every occurrence, including family creates something to one’s life, whether it’s more of a connection or a disconnection.

My daughter is about to become a mother (to twins)  herself and in the course of her pregnancy we’ve become closer. Actually since she moved out of the house across the country six years ago our relationship improved and grew. (Sometimes distance is good for a reality check folks!) During those six years she moved back quite close, and  my own mother passed away leaving a hole in both our hearts, along with the rest of our family.

If you’ve followed along here at all you’ve probably noticed my mother was one that could sew, craft, paint, basically create naturally. I don’t feel I got that “create naturally” talent but  I dabble in sewing and crafting.  When I did quilt it was with my mother.  K. enjoys sewing and she spent time with her grandmother learning to sew and embroidery.

I figured out the best way to honor my mother, share about a generation that is gone, and give my daughter and grandson’s a gift to treasure was to make baby quilts.

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At my daughter’s baby shower this past weekend I gave her the quilts, it was a surprise. This is what I placed with the two quilts I made telling the story for generations to come.

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As my daughter read the card and opened the boxes I could tell this gift meant a great deal to her.  She didn’t say much as she isn’t a touchy feely kinda gal but she didn’t have to. (hint: one thing we differ at, but I still love her!) 🙂  I think my Mom would have liked this.

quilts

Just as my mother sewn one generation of love into blankets and outfits,  I  followed her lead.  Someday it will be K. sharing the story, making blankets, and loving her grandchildren.  I hope these are still around to share!

In today’s world, whether it is a family unit, friendships, any collection of people seem to be torn apart like a piece of fabric loosely sewn. The different personalities, selfish mindsets, non-respect, and many other factors from the outside word are participants to make this occur.

Folks, gather your people and keep them sewn tightly together.Weave a bond that even in the darkest time you are still united in some form.   For when they are gone there will be a rip in your heart and only memories to share. Let’s sew the generations together, shall we?

Julie

Could It Be a Brighter Time


I was almost too scared to write the title of this post.  As if to jinx the time of my life I am in.

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The past 2-3 years have been rough but for a few moments each day I can see the sunshine.  I can feel the calm within and if I shut my eyes, I breathe a little easier.  I can laugh with my husband and welcome a hug from him.  I can raise my head off the pillow and although a tad groggy, I  feel better than I have in a long while.

This comes after making my declaration of spending 2017 focusing on me.  Taking a year to find a better me both mentally and physically.  Being so depleted it is hard to rise from the ashes but I vowed to go slow at it. Less than 30 days in I might still be on the “new life” high, who knows! Let’s go with it, it feels pretty good!

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I will admit I’ve had my days where tears have won out and irritability spawned horrible tones and words from my mouth.  Then the days of wanting to quit or just give up showed their nasty faces too.

But so far the days, or at least the majority of the past days have been enjoyable.  That my friends is a good thing.  Baby steps.  Very baby steps.

I do not blame the place I ended up on any one thing really.  A collection of occurences brought me to a place that wasn’t pretty.  Apologies are owed to others while also to myself.  Appreciation for the tragic moments that build character within me is required.   Stopping the moments of this life from slipping away as they rapidly do is needed. Savoring the time I have with my family, opening my heart once again to showing kindness to others, and just letting sunshine fall across my face is in my future.  Perhaps not tomorrow, but it’s coming, I can feel it.

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So, when the sun comes up today, I will put both feet in front of me, eat a hearty breakfast to start my day and smile.  Come on, try it with me won’t you? 🙂

Baby steps my friends.  Baby steps.

Julie

 

 

Only One Post


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Well folks it’s been fun in 2015 hasn’t it?  I mean we have laughed and shook heads in agreement with Honesty Days, touched base with God in the God’s Grace posts, and walked through grieving another death.

I hope that in my Music to my Ears posts you found yourself dancing while reading, enjoyed some awesome stories about adoption, but most of all I hope my writing inspired you.  Inspired you to do whatever God was leading you to do.  Whether it be through an act of kindness, pray with another, speak of His truth to others, or start a new adventure!  I’m so very glad you have joined me in every aspect of the journey.

I’ve written many times about connecting with others.  I know that between us is some sort of device, but I hope that my words have touched you in a way that has brought you joy.  Writing about my life experiences is a way for me to grow, help others, and deal with whatever is at hand.  I feel fortunate to be able to write in a blog setting.

Does this sound like a good bye?  Well,  don’t worry, I’m not. I’m just taking an extended vacation to focus on family, the holidays, and create a new space for us to meet.  I do have an upcoming very special post in December, just one.  Of course it has to do with #pfwg44thbirthday and you will see if I made my goals!

I pray that your Christmas season is a joyous one and that it holds the true meaning of it all.  Jesus Christ.  May you take time to watch the little ones play, sing, and be silly.  May you see the glimmer in your spouse’s/significant other’s eyes once again, and watch the adult children’s life unfold before you.  Hug and kiss the family too much and eat the good food that has been provided for you, and TAKE PICTURES!  Take moments to be generally kind to the clerk at the store, the elderly one, the ones less fortunate, and the ones alone this holiday season.

May we all encompass Christ’s love and share it too much!  God bless you and I will see you in a few weeks!

Grace is a gift,

Juli

My Story – Your Story


My story.  It isn’t one of much relevance except perhaps to me.  I know the very depth of it and the very simplicity of it.  The way it curves and takes off on paths in this journey. Some are  really only special to me, others are life lessons, and who knows what else.  They may affect others but truly it’s my story and only I know the feelings of joy, despair, heart-break, excitement, and thrill of it!

 

A year later in review

But due to ripple effects and connections with others in my life, my story touches others, even when they may not notice.  How I choose to greet someone, help others, cook my family a meal, answer the telephone, hand a book to another.  Each of these making a connection between me and another.

I wonder what influence I have in this world.  If when I die others will think of me as a kind and giving person.  Did I live out what God intended for me?  Did I take the steps to be at least a small reflection of His love?

My story is full of events, with each new day another added to the collection.  Those events although do include connections, the depth of the experience is mine to hold within.  To take to my grave the powerful ways others influence my life through their story.

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In looking at your story so far, what does it feel like?  What does it reflect in this world of chaos and love and hope and moments of despair?  What connection have you made today that will alter the path of another on their story?

By the grace of God I pray I am a good influence, that I take opportunities to turn my life into something to His glory.  I pray that I see what others are doing to help me to become closer to God.

Grace is a gift,

Julie

 

Music to my Ears & Life to my Soul!


Do I have any readers that love music?  I love music although I can’t carry a tune or play an instrument!  Hearing the beautiful sounds from the balcony of our church each Sunday now from a young girl, to an uplifting Christian song on my radio to my little girl belting a tune from the back seat of my car, it all brings life to my soul!

Today I wanted to share some of the music that has been motivating me this past week or so.  I hope you will feel free to enjoy them and also share some beautiful music with me.  Whether it’s country music (especially old-time) or christian or modern, feel  free to share. I enjoy all types of music.
This couple sings some of the most beautiful music I have ever heard.  It’s a mix of christian and country.  If you check out their website or you tube station you will find more songs that are full of inspiration and goodness.  It’s even more bittersweet since Joey is now at home  enjoying what is left of her life on earth and stopped her cancer treatments.

 

This particular artist Brandon Heath is a christian artist.  I came to know of him through a mission workshop I attended. This particular song is one that reminds me that in my daily living I am in a mission field.  A mission field that is in need of Jesus Christ.  I live in a rural community and my family farms, so the concept of the song is awesome in regards to that too!

 

And sometimes current country music surprises me.  This song doesn’t make me sad or depressed, I just really like the tune and her voice is awesome I think.

One of my youngest daughter’s favorites to listen to is Joshua Tree, sung by The McKinney Sisters!  She will sing away in the backseat on the way school.  These gals are really talented! Seeing them live is a great experience, you CAN NOT sit still!

This is a new one for me.  It came across the radio last week when I was needing to be reminded I am not alone.  When I felt I was overwhelmed and alone and not sure what to do.   Sometimes just being held and reminded is what we need.

 

Then we have good ol’ country music!  I grew up with Glen Campbell, Loretta Lynn, Johnny Cash, and others.  So when I hear them now it makes me smile and belt out the words to any of the songs!  They don’t make music like that anymore!

Well for now I guess that is enough!  I hope you enjoy and remember to share with me some great music in  comments!

 

Grace is a gift,
Julie

 

There Was One, Then Two, Now What


Having two blogs is somewhat of a struggle these days.  I’ve tried to ignore it and hope no one noticed the lack of writing on one or the other.  The guilt is setting in a decision is upon the horizon I do believe.

There Was One, Then Two, Now What

See, I created Pushing Forward with Grace for a writing experiment and it became a spiritual and journal type of thing for me.  I love writing over here as it gives me a place to express myself and inspire others.   This helps with not driving my husband too batty with all my dramatic talking too! 🙂   I need an outlet for processing you know!

In Between the Sunsets of Life was created to share our farm experiences, kitchen fun, and a family type blog.  I basically moved my faith journey and inspirational posts to PFWG blog when it was created.

I have contemplated combining them but can not get myself to commit.  I even have a new name for the combined blog but feel like I am letting go of something substantial if I make a change.  My concern is that those that enjoy my farm side blog will not choose to continue to follow and vice versa for those here at Grace.  If only there was a way to know how to find a balance and know the right choice!

I am somewhat embarrassed at myself  for  struggling with such a non-important issue.  I mean really, it’s not like I do not have more important things to take care of!  But these blogs are a creation of me.  I took a risk when I clicked publish on that first post in 2012 and then again in 2014 and I’m a better person because I did it (twice)!   I have grown as an individual, became a better writer, and am not as scared to share my true thoughts on subjects now.  My dream is to only inspire and help others.  If my tribulation or joys bring inspiration or help, then the time I have put into these blogs is well worth it.

My life is becoming a tad hectic once again so it is time to step back and get organized.  I need to declutter or “rest” as God spoke to me from the bible study this morning. (I love how He does that!)  Too many activities, new part-time job, and being the mom and wife I want to be is becoming stressful.  Time to regroup!

So the question is, do I combine the two, create a new blog, or continue to feel guilty for not writing as much on one or the other?  Do I eliminate one all together?  Please say a little prayer of guidance on this subject for me today if you don’t mind.  You can also offer your advice, I’m willing to listen/read it!

Thanks so much!

Grace is a gift,

Julie

 

You Can Harvest Without Being a Farmer


I hope the title caught your attention enough that you are now reading this post.  I pray you will read to the end and then feel inspired to put your “harvester” mode in action!

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The church I belong to is a beautiful brick one that sits between fields of wheat and soybeans.  The sunsets look glorious with the cemetary in the image and you can see the stars very well as you leave a bible study on a Monday night.  The church where my family worships is in the country.  The closest town is 7 miles away.

In this church, there have been generations upon generations worshiping the Lord. There have been people who have been brought to Christ at birth, in their 20’s, 30’s, and further into adulthood than that.  People have been in the Word, making their way to the altar for the sacraments, and been washed clean at the baptismal font.  Along with those there have been many times the pews have been filled for weddings and funerals.

This church is just a building though, but it’s a building that we want to still be here for years to come.  To see many infants at the baptismal font,  witness youth confirmed, and celebrate the joys and give support in the tribulations of one another’s lives.

Honestly though, if the building were gone tomorrow we could still do what we do every time we gather there now.   We could worship the Lord our Father.  Weekly attendance is an essential part of  Christian life but don’t forget we can harvest daily anywhere. Daily living allows us to  guide others to Him every day.  Gathering those that do not know of Him and bringing them into this building that is provided is our duty isn’t it?

Please watch this inspiring music video by Brandon Heath.

 

My favorite lines from this song are the following.

For all that we’ve grown
How could we forget
Those who don’t know
Or just don’t know yet
Let’s harvest this field
From sunrise to sunset
The Master is coming
We are not done yet

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My husband is a farmer, I can relate to the sowing of seed, the small plants that turn into an amazing beauty, and the long hours it takes to bring forth enough to make our farm operate.  The dirt under his fingernails and jeans that are covered in grease repairing equipment is all in a days work.

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Just as he places trust in God to provide for our family and farm operation by sowing a small seed in dirt, nurturing it, and one day harvesting it, I too want to do that.

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Only my seed may be a note of grace, opportunity to give forgiveness, witness to someone in a pew as I take the sacraments, tell my faith journey, or share a simple bible story with others.

My hope in life is for us all to bring others to know Christ’s love.  See, a small seed was placed inside of me many years ago.  I had no clue that someday I would find myself standing in a large field that I was given this  opportunity.  I’m here and although on occasion scared, I’m ready.   Ready to sow the seeds, give some nurturing, and eventually harvest by the grace of God.

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After attending an event called Reaching Rural America for Christ I feel I am stronger and have been placed in this field called earth to do this work.  To help others know that they are not alone, that Christ loves them unconditionally, and that human life is precious.  The gift of Jesus as our Savior isn’t one to reject but to embrace.  Isn’t it our duty and a gift to bring others to Christ?

Our Master is coming, let’s make the best effort so that when He returns we are all together!

I can not do it alone.  Will you join me?  Choose a seed, nurture it, and then harvest it when the time comes.

Grace is a gift,

Julie

Losing My Last Parent – Mother’s Tribute


I’ve been unable to write about my latest experience in life.  The death of my last parent occurred on August 26, 2015.  One year after my first parent, my Dad’s passing.  (August is now my least favorite month I think by the way.)

So today I’d like to share what I wrote and spoke at my Mother’s funeral.

Honestly I wasn’t sure I would be able to write a eulogy for Mom.  I was struggling and I think the prayers helped that I asked for.  I am so glad God gave me the strength to get through the speaking and writing from my heart to represent my siblings and myself on this day to honor Mom.

Let me give you a picture of who she was, before I start my process of working through words as I do to grieve.

Losing My Last Parent Mothers Tribute
Grace is a gift,

Julie

As most of you know, I am Julie, Frona’s youngest daughter. Today I’d like to share with you something I’ve written on behalf of my siblings and myself.

There’s a hole in our family.  Our mother, grandmother, cheerleader, and outspoken supporter of our lives passed away. And she did it in true form to who she was.  In the last few days of her life we witnessed her biggest challenge and she performed like a champ right up to the end.  I won’t go into details but in true” Frona form” she kept surprising the doctors and nurses.

When asked to describe our mother the first word we would all say is “tough”.  Frona was a fighter and a survivor in more than one aspect of her life on earth.  Yet she knew how to have fun and loved being with family.

I believe she became tough and strong starting at a young age. Being the second to the youngest of thirteen children couldn’t have been easy in the 1940’s.  Frona endured a difficult first marriage, cared for her children as a single mother, and worked almost all her life outside the home.  Before Bob, he second husband passed away in 2009 she cared for him daily although she had a back injury herself.  This gave her purpose and she loved Bob a great deal.  After his passing her life was never the same.

In her life she represented a woman who worked (physically) hard and could compete with any man on any given day.  Even when her back injury became difficult to endure she was stubborn and wouldn’t give up.  Sometimes her stubbornness worked for her and other times not so much.  Either way, her family loved her and misses her a great deal.

When we talked about our childhoods and her place in them we found ourselves deep in memories.  There was the fried chicken she cooked in the huge cast iron skillet, to the camping trip in the pasture, her love of dancing, the loud greeting and big smile when someone entered her home.   The way Artex paints or sewing projects would be strung across the dining room table or the way she would tightly put curlers in us girl’s hair the night before school pictures.  She was the life of the party at dances and would dance with anyone, especially to country music.

Our mother, back in the day, was a woman who could bake the best pecan rolls and make meringue for pies super high; then turn around that afternoon and shovel manure or drive a feed truck.  This taught her daughters there were no limits to being a woman in the world of working.  It taught all her children strength and endurance.

Frona always loved to make the big dinners and have family over at her house.  I believe that is where I got my love for it.  The laughter and games that were played, her grandchildren laughing at something outrageous that Grandma would say, and there was always pictures to be taken.  These are precious memories for us now. Traditions we hope to continue.

In her house anyone was welcome, meaning if you brought home a friend or new to be in law or someone who might seem like the “underdog” Mom always welcomed them.  In fact, there were times it felt like she liked them better than her own kids! J

She was loved and adored by nieces and nephews. She was the crazy loud aunt.  The one that when she showed up would hug and slap you on the back or wrestle you to the ground!  If you gave her a hard time, she gave it right back only bigger and better.

Grandchildren became a great source of joy to her.  She would do anything for them. Luckily the grandkids would visit grandma’s house or text, call, or message her often.  They felt the same way about her that she felt about them.

As her children we have many memories to remember and we are grateful for them.  Growing up, Mother may not have shown her love with many hugs, because of her tough exterior, but she showed it through helping us when we asked her to.  The hugs did come, and the “I love you” every single time we would leave as we grew older.  Now we will look to the resurrection of Jesus Christ so we can all be with her again.    That’s our hope and our future as she was a baptized child of God.

I know today is supposed to be about Mom but I’d like to take a moment to say something else, that she is connected to.

I believe one of the best gifts I have ever received from my parents and God were the people I call my siblings.  I was given three people who I share a bond with and they have always loved and cared for me.  Most people jokingly say, when talking about birth order “They saved best for last.”  Remember. I am the youngest.   But I believe God knew I would need the best before me.  I love you Tam, Rick, and Elizabeth.  I am so thankful that we were together, holding Mom’s hand when she took her last breath.  You are all an extension of her and Dad and I’m grateful to call you family.

Our family would like to thank you all for coming today and celebrating our mother’s life with us.

A Year Later – In Review


It’s a year later and although there are many things still the same, there are changes.  Primarily within me I think and it’s a continuous journey.  I want to share the thoughts, changes, and what the future looks like from my view today.

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My life as a working outside the home woman changed a year ago.  I left behind a life of what I thought at the time more stressful, risky business, and more time away from home than I liked.  It was also a place of security, although not as much as it was the 17 years prior.

I feel that God moved me into the agent position as part of a transition into this new position as part of his plan for me.  HE knew I would never just walk away from a secure, good paying job I was pretty good at.  He placed me in a position that made me feel out of comfort, happiness at times, proud and miserable all at once.  It wasn’t about the actual position, it was who I am and who HE made me to be.

I stepped into a new position August 2014 of being a stay at home farm mom and wife.  I had some training at it, but never full-time. Although one might think it’s an easy position it brings about new lessons that one only knows if they are living it.

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At the beginning I was taken away from my family time due to my father’s illness before his death.  I believe this was another of God’s plans and I have no regrets in the days I spent away.  Once things settled down a routine began for our family.

 

The routine included our one daughter still at home attending school and my days being mostly alone.  My thoughts went back and forth feeling guilt for not working and how to fill my days.  She was six and did a mother really need to be home full-time, but I wanted to be.  I felt my physical and mental self-needed a break.  So I took it.

Various feelings made their appearance depending on the day and they still sneak in on occasion a year later.  The ones of how to pay the bills with less money,  dealing with changes in our farming operation, learning to still socialize with the outside world, focus on my God, and more activities with the six-year-old to name a few.

 

Through the year, adjustments were made in my marriage, my mothering, and my life.  It’s taken a year to feel a normal routine and the summer has been one of the best ones of my entire life.  There were some pretty harsh moments but spending the days with our daughter and even helping my husband was worth those moments.

irrigation farm work

School will begin in a couple of weeks and I am wondering how I will do with my helper away all day.  I have various things in motion to fill my time, and I need to get moving more to care for me.  Taking time to step away from the computer and embroidery and walk for better mental and physical health.

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One of the major things that has been upon my mind lately is how I no longer intermingle with adults much.  How I feel when I am presented with opportunities for interactions is sometimes hard for me.  I was never a real extrovert but was fine in my work environment and most situations.  I find it interesting that anything associated with my church I feel comfortable with yet other things I struggle a great deal.  Introvert?  Losing my social skills?  Nothing or something?  This will be another balance to find in my life.  Another process and much time in prayer for guidance.

God's word samuel

I have to admit, I’m afraid to write this next paragraph. That I might jinx it but I must admit it for others should know.  God has provided for our family.  HE has presented opportunities for my spouse to work outside the farm to replace income no longer there.  God has shown me/us what is valuable in this world and what is not.  God has created a path that I am not as afraid to take as I was before.  On the days I am in fear, I know WHO is the only ONE that I can rely on in truth. He’s also available 24 hours a day which is good for me! GOD.

This change in my life after so long, in my 40’s, could have come along for any sort of reason.  To bring me closer to God, raise a child better, support my husband more, know more about farming, do more church work, find who I am really intended to be, or just leave behind the insurance business, no matter the reason, I find myself grateful a year later.

A year later in review

Grace is a gift,

Julie