Category Archives: strength

A Sprout

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A sprout, green shoots of hope appeared in the garden bed today.  My chives have surfaced from its winter hibernation.   It had been 10 weeks when we left the Deanna Greens greenhouse in Defiance, just before Thanksgiving.  By lantern light we harvested all the herbs and greens chive-sproutswe had left that evening. There had not been need to get to the farm since snow has been close to null, no need to check on the 3-season structure. Dean, Midnight, and I observed signs of where an animal had laid on the other side of the bed.  Our labrador sniffed the area thoroughly “who has been sleeping in my bed?!”

This mild sunny afternoon in early February called my name to the countryside.  Perusing our 3-season structure, and then for a long walk around Boone Hollow Farm with Dean and Midnight.  Midnight lead the way up the hill, passed the farm neighbor’s sprouting garlic field we help plant in November.  Then a stroll along the cedar ridge, down another neighbor’s gravel driveway, back near our greenhouse, then over to the barn, and circling the brush piles before our return to the greenhouse. Our landlord must have set the one brush pile on fire as there were a few lasting embers and a small trail of smoke surrounded by ashes.  Present moment, mindful observations of nature. The walk and fresh air revived my soul after this weary week.

Hope is like those February sprouts of chives and garlic.  Perennial faith believes a flourishing crop and bountiful harvest in the not too far future.  Lasting embers will once again ablaze a fire to light up the darkness and give warm comfort.  The ashes of cancer lie on the ground while my daughter lights the world with her strength, faith, and love.

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Between Raindrops

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Raindrop Rain water, the necessity of plant and animal life hydrated the Missouri earth on several occasions this past 3-day weekend. Some rains were more like 15-minute storms, others were a steady soaking for an hour or so. “Raindrops keep fallin’ on my head” plays in my head, the beginning lyrics from an contemporary song written by Burt Bacharach in 1969 and played in the movie “Butch Cassidy And Sundance Kid”. It was the number one hit in 1970 with BJ Thomas singing it, and the song recently made Grammy Hall Of Fame status. I continued my gardening and farming chores in the rain, until the lightning brighten the cloudy sky and the thunder clapped with warning. Just 30 minutes ago it was blazing hot with the sunrays and humidity while planting my gourd seedlings. Before the lightning Dean managed to get another trellis tepee designed of repurposed metal poles, and placed in the ground for our gourds. We have luffa gourds on the outside, and bi-color pear gourds on the inside of one trellis tepees. On the other trellis teepee built last year, birdhouse gourds are on the outside with the hand dipper kind on the inside. Jude twine is weaved in between the poles for the runners to grab a hold of while the gourd plants grow. Monday afternoon’s storm came with much wind and heavy rain. Hopefully, the freshly planted gourd seedlings made it okay. We go back out to the Defiance farm on Thursday to observe and water the indoor plants. Fifteen miles from our residence, it is hard to say what it did at Boone Hollow Farm.
I repotted several fern planters into moss baskets while at home Monday afternoon. They now rest in the branches of our shade trees in our yard. Baby marigolds were planted to ward off insects. Now nestled inside a huge moss basket with the solar patio lanterns Dean has made near the backyard patio. More marigolds and zinnias await planting at the church rectory. Hail is forecasted with this evening’s storms, so we will continue to let these seedlings get stronger while in shelter on our front porch in their trays. Maybe this line of storms will move away by Thursday evening when time allows for more transplanted flowering plants in their “new home”. There is nothing like a refreshing rain.

Every Stopping Place

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Elisabeth Elliot, a Christian speaker and author who devoted her life in missionary work, lost 2 husbands while in this work, now resides with her third husband of 37 years and both retired from heavy travels. Elisabeth’s works are down to earth. See http://www.elisabethelliot.org for more information on this amazing inspirational woman. There are many differences to my life and Elisabeth Elliot’s, though similarities indeed. My education is not in theology nor my travels and work with tribes in Ecuador or Africa. I have not written books or spoke at huge conferences. Though I am a Christian and I am educated with a summa cum laude honored Bachelors of Art degree in Human Resource Management. I use my education and God-given gifts of organization and leadership with working Americans, and attempt to write inspirational thought with work communique and this WordPress blog. I speak on occasions to fellow business colleagues. Elisabeth Elliot is quoted,“It is God to whom and with whom we travel, and while He is the End of our journey, He is also at every stopping place.” I am at “a stopping place”. I can count on my two hands the number of times I can recall “a stopping place.” Every stopping place is God-ordered. I do not sense a brick wall here. Though a time to be still, reflect, pray, get reenergized, and then get back to work. I am being called into some new work…I am still today, reflecting, and praying. The strength will come for that new work. The thick clouds have rolled in this afternoon. A winter snow warning has been issued for Missouri. Predicted are several inches of snow and ice, and severe Arctic winds and temperatures to follow. Sub-zero temps will keep me in my warm house while frosty art paints the windows, God’s healing hands bring health to my body. Tasks can wait at this God-ordered stopping place. The earthly journey comes soon enough.

Identify The Gourd

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Digital Gourds chart © Dan Dunkin 2003
This chart is used courtesy The Gourd Reserve


It’s that time of year, gourds and pumpkins decorate the stores and houses in our neighborhoods. They are autumn, and create the autumn ambiance. Which variety do you see based on the above chart? Our gourds are huge and colorful! This is Deanna Greens And Garden Art’s first year growing them, and it has been most enjoyable! We have one tall teepee trellis of gourds with 4 different varieties, plus ornamental eggplant which looks like a gourd. The vines have not dried up yet, so we sit tight and not pick yet. Patience! Even if the fruit has stopped growing, the vine provides nutrients to the gourds’ shell to thicken and strengthen. When the vine dries up, then the gourds are ready for harvest. We hope to have gourds available for a couple of farmers’ markets in October and November. Artisans beware, gourds are a great canvas for creative arts and crafts! And many are used for practical purposes. “Every house there is surrounded by a garden, and when the gourd dries in the sun, it hardens and it can be used for everything,” artist Chisseko Kondowe says. Here are the lyrics to an old song, The Drinking Gourd :

When the sun goes back
And the first quail calls
Follow the drinking gourd
The old man is waiting
For to carry you to freedom
Follow the drinking gourd

Follow the drinking gourd
Follow the drinking gourd
For the old man is waiting
For to carry you to freedom
Follow the drinking gourd

Riverbed makes a mighty fine road
The dead trees will show you the way
And it’s left foot, peg foot traveling on
Follow the drinking gourd

The river ends between two hills
Follow the drinking gourd
There’s another river on the other side
Follow the drinking gourd

Follow the drinking gourd
Follow the drinking gourd
For the old man is waiting
For to carry you to freedom
Follow the drinking gourd

I thought I heard the angels say
Follow the drinking gourd
The stars in the Heavens’
Gonna show you the way
Follow the drinking gourd

Follow the drinking gourd
Follow the drinking gourd
For the old man is waiting
For to carry you to freedom
Follow the drinking gourd

Follow the drinking gourd
Follow the drinking gourd
For the old man is waiting
For to carry you to freedom
Follow the drinking gourd

Her Reflection

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I so relate to this allegory, the life of a tree and my life. Please read it! Lovely blog!

From a Montana Front Porch

Her Reflection ~ From a Montana Front Porch

She watched herself age in the reflection year after year. Not every year stands out in her memory clearly, but moments do.

The first time she realized that she was tall enough to catch a glimpse of herself in the water. Oh the excitement she felt!

The year she realized that she was tall enough and her branches full enough to give shade to the deer of the field. Such a wonderful feeling of being needed!

Then were the years she welcomed her very own seedlings. The pride as they grew! And the sadness as some couldn’t. With this time came the realization that most things were not in her control. She didn’t like that knowledge.

She grew through the seasons of rain and sun and rested through the snow and cold. Each spring she anticipated the ice melting so she could once more see her reflection and all of…

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Deep Within

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Heart Vine Plant
A beautiful song we sang at church on Sunday, which plays in my mind, heart, and voice today …
Deep Within by David Haas
Deep within, I will plant my law, not on stone, but in your heart.
Follow me; I will bring you back. You will be my own, and I will be your God.
I will give you a new heart, a new spirit within you, for I will be your strength.
Deep within, I will plant my law, not on stone, but in your heart.
Follow me; I will bring you back. You will be my own, and I will be your God.
See my face, and see your God, for I will be your hope.
Deep within, I will plant my law, not on stone, but in your heart.
Follow me; I will bring you back. You will be my own, and I will be your God.
Return to me, with all your heart, and I will bring you back.
Deep within, I will plant my law, not on stone, but in your heart.
Follow me; I will bring you back. You will be my own, and I will be your God.

From Above

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Eagle QuoteWhen we get beyond imperfections and flaws in ourself and others, then with faith we can fly like an eagle … “But those who keep waiting for the LORD will renew their strength. Then they’ll soar on wings like eagles; they’ll run and not grow weary; they’ll walk and not grow tired.” Isaiah 40:31 International Standard Version of the Bible. The views are spectacular!

The Autumn Winds

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… I love the year’s decline, and love
Through rustling yellow shades to range,
O’er stubble land, ’neath willow grove,
To pause upon each varied change …
Now shatter’d shades let me attend,
Reflecting look on their decline,
Where pattering leaves confess their end,
In sighing flutterings hinting mine.
For every leaf, that twirls the breeze,
May useful hints and lessons give;
The falling leaves and fading trees
Will teach and caution us to live…

These verses are from a poem “Autumn” written by John Clare (1821).  I walked down the Clayton street to another building on campus for a training class this morning.  I felt and heard the autumn winds in my hair and the rustling leaves.  In the wind I feel  my father’s presence.  Autumn was his favorite season.   Brain cancer did not win, as my father has eternal life with Jesus.  I had to go out again at my lunch break, just so I could feel the winds and know my father is present in my day.   Did you know, my Dad, you built so much of my character and personality?   That steadfastness, strong, and stubborn characteristic I shared at the ceremony in your honor on Saturday, but tenacity would be another trait I forgot to mention.  This greenhouse business, Deanna Greens and Garden Art is requiring tenacity.  It is a sunny, warm, and blustery October day, with another cold front meeting with the current 80+ temperatures which will produce  storms in a few short hours.  I see the clouds coming from the west.   A 40+ degree drop in temps is to come this evening.  Dean & I moved many plants to safer shelter last night.  Up into the wee 1:00am hour.  We have been in the process of moving for weeks, and have found homes for many of our tropicals.  But my potted geraniums, wandering jews, swedish ivy, and other hanging baskets needed to be someplace warm.  The greenhouse rebuild has come to a halt with the question of electricity ampage for heat, fan, and light resources.   Dean met with an engineer from the electric company. Our prayer is that the barn down the hill from our greenhouse has 300 amp, so we can connect.  Waiting for an answer as we have permission to do so from the landlord.  The side walls and plastic liner should be completed this week, delayed a week for more important matters such as my father’s funeral.  See the lovely autumn canvas from my parents’ home in Pike County, the photo taken by my cousin during our gathering in Dad’s honor on Saturday.

Time

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“Time, you left me standing there
Like a tree growing all alone
The wind just stripped me bare
Stripped me bare
Time, the past has come and gone, gone
The future’s far away
An hour only lasts for one second, one second

Time without courage, time without fear
Is just wasted, wasted, wasted time
Oh, oh, oh, ooh ooh ooh

Time, why you punish me?”

These lyrics from Hootie and the Blowfish’s song “Time” keep playing in my mind tonight.  This post is continuation of my thoughts in my last post written 5 hours ago.  I cried when I walked upon that boat dock at Island Lake last week.  I felt my father’s spirit with me, though in body he could not be there with me.  Valhalla was Dad’s favorite place to do his favorite thing, fish.  Such an appropriate name. “Valhalla” is the Viking’s heaven after he dies from warfare.  My father has been fighting such a battle.  Dad’s days are running short.  He is dying of brain cancer, and I keep thinking about his life.  Dean & I visited his father, my 96-year old grandfather last evening.  Grandpa Earl tells us stories of his childhood and my father’s childhood.  Yet he is cognitive enough to ask about his oldest son, my father.  A copy of a photo arrived in the mail today from my cousin.  A 1945 family portrait of my Grandpa Earl, Grandma Anna, Dad, and Uncle Earl.  Mom called this evening on the way home from work.  A hospital bed is being delivered to their Bowling Green home.  Yes, the bed my father will be in when he passes from this life.  God, I am so thankful for my father, Martin Kenneth Bates.  He has been strength to this family for many years.  And now we are his strength.  He will be with You soon.  And I will miss him greatly.  I do not want pain for him, just Your peace, comfort, and rest.