Category Archives: blessing

Back When

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The “Christmas Trees For Sale” sign in the store front window caught my attention.  Fresh pine scent, the friendly “howdy” greeting, footsteps on the squeaky wood-planked floor, and the jingle of the door bells as I enter and close the door into the little gift shop … each liven my senses … bring me to back when.  A little pony-tailed blonde-haired girl.  Cannot wait for the holiday season, Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and New Years.  But all the events leading to those wonder-filled holidays.  Baking, decorating, crafting, wrapping, and for me living on a tree farm, setting up the pine trees to sell.  Always Thanksgiving weekend my Dad and Grandpa brought in a truck and trailer overflowed with fresh cut Christmas trees.  Scotch pine, white pine, and spruce trees planted, trimmed, and cared for by Dad, and any family members looking for some extra $$ pitched in.  My siblings and I included.  We would play hide-n-seek in the pile of cut trees until there were no more to set-up.  Snow, ice, or rain, it did not matter. Wholesome fun. We had the time of our lives back when.

 

A weekend away in Branson, Missouri for early Christmas shopping and a membership inquiry with a vacation club for more of these empty nest long weekends and longer week dream vacations.  Dean and I are local shoppers, whether in our home town of St. Charles, Missouri or while on vacation.  There is something down-to-earth about brick & mortar and mom & pop shops.  Branson has the downtown landing and tourist attractions, but take us where the locals shop, eat, and play, please!  Nostalgic Dicks 5 & 10, Main Street Flea Market, the Classy Flea, and the Farmhouse Restaurant … Back when the Nativity was in every shop, home, and city hall.  The holidays included real pine rope trimmings with bright red velvet bow wreaths and pine cones.  Back when that fresh field-cut Charlie Brown tree was dressed with hand-sewn ornaments, Shiny Brite glass balls, and a collection of heirloom from Germany or England, wherever your family originated from.  Back when home-baked breads were served at every meal with a home-jarred fruit preserves, and your favorite sugar cookies piled on a plate or in a large jar for the eating any time.  But not too close to your mother’s or grandmother’s home-cooked dinner, “not to spoil your appetite”.  The house smelled of a fresh pot of chicken & dumplings.  I imagine my father’s Christmases in the 1940’s.  Filled with joy to have his father, my Grandpa Earl back home from the war.  Grandma Anna doting over the menu preparations.  Two or three simply wrapped presents with his name “Marty” on the tags under the tinseled Christmas tree.  Back when is close to my heart at this present moment in the guest bedroom of our 1940’s house.  My family has been blessed with fond memories and we will make more.

 

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Summer Kinships Bloom

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As the summer solstice approaches we relish the vibrant blooms in the gardens and roadside, as well in our homes.  Our dream is to bloom with our kin folk.  Dean and I refurbished our living room, a blend of fresh and vintage.  Midnight, our Labrador is ready for the companionship of kin, and is on the welcome committee at our home.  In the meantime a few recent travels take us to our families in other Missouri towns.  Dean is such a proud father and grandfather.  He carries his digital camera to capture the moments and shares his finds with zeal.

Late April we were blessed with another grandchild.  Elise is Dean’s first born grandchild.  Beautiful baby.  We took the occasion and traveled to meet her early May when she was less than a week old, and another one this past weekend.  The last Saturday in April we honored my deceased father, aunt, and uncle with a Relay For Life team of kin at the cancer relay held downtown St. Louis. Mother’s Day was a visit to an old lookout point in St. Francois County  with my daughters and their families. We had another May day trip to the Missouri Botanical Gardens with my brother and sister-in-law.  And there is summer league baseball with our oldest grandson, Brendan. The first weekend in June we celebrated the 30-year birthday of Dean’s daughter, Liz as well as the birth of our youngest grandchild, Elise.

“Let us be grateful for the people that make us happy, they are the charming gardeners that make our souls blossom.”  Marcel Proust

Almost Home

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I had a deja vu  moment this past weekend while walking down a neighborhood street to the auto part store with my Dean and our Midnight.  During our brisk walk I approached a view unforgettable from my childhood.  An old brick house, the grandmother’s house of a farm family I grew up with just down the road from my childhood home and tree farm.  I was 12-years old again and at the place where I knew I was more than 1/2 way home from the old town ball diamond where I played softball.  On occasion my sister and I would walk to ball practice and our games.  It was at least a 2-mile walk one way, and required us to cross over the interstate on a cross walk. Considered a summer adventure, not scary.  Over 40 years ago, my hometown St. Peters, Missouri was a farm community. Everyone knew each other, and for the most part everyone was trustworthy.  That cross walk was torn down a few years back.  But if it was still usable today, would I let my 10-year old or even 14-year old granddaughter walk that distance to ball practice from home and back again?  I would say “no” as this community has greatly changed in size. We do not know our “neighbors” like we did back then, and who knows about the interstate traffic and travelers.  The world has changed its character.

“Almost home” is like those familiar places and people.  Thankful for, content with. The rental house has been a temporary refuge for us, almost home.  But home and family is where we are meant to be.  All my senses clearly see, smell, hear, touch, and taste its warmth.  The pine wood and painted walls smell fresh, clean, new.  These colored walls are awaiting our human presence. I hear our birds chirp near the front porch in the maple and dogwood trees. And I feel the crisp new bed linens and quilt to my skin as I lay in my bed along side my husband. This weekend we will be moving our personal items back to our renovated home. And our hearts come with. Living minimally has been refreshing like the aromas of fresh wood. Dean and I vow to continue this.  As I wrote a few weeks ago, “’Home’ is where you lay your head, and share your heart and blessings with your family…” no matter the structure or belongings.  The Books of Matthew and Philippians in our Bible say, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they?” and “I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content–whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need.”  My prayer for each of us, we know that God our Father provides for our every need and that we each are content with His provisions.

 

Let The Good Times Roll

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Many of you catch glimpses of our lives on Facebook and Word Press.  Thank you for the continual contact.  And we love hearing your news as well!  So we wanted to summarize 2015, and tell you what we are hoping for in 2016.  Wow, 2015 was like no other Dean and I have experienced.  In 2015, the first half included 2 sunny vacations, and the second half we worked through details regards housing, floods, and the beginning of restoration.

In February we lapped up sunshine in California and came back to Missouri’s bitterly cold winter.  Dean’s father celebrated his 80th birthday with family and friends.  We had another Gall wedding celebration in April.  Yes, that would have been the 4th in less than 9 months with the extended family.   We planted and harvested lots of herbs,peas, and beans this growing season.  During the summer we vacationed in our beloved Minnesota with my sister and our dog, Midnight.  Throughout the year we frequented local music venues. But in December we ventured to Nashville thoroughly enjoying the Amy Grant and Vince Gill holiday concert. We ended 2015 with a bang at the Pokey LaFarge concert on the Delmar Loop.

Dean and I’s government jobs keep us occupied, and we are thankful for them.  My quiet husband does not share his own accomplishments, but I will boast on his behalf.  Dean received a promotion and raise late this year, and it is well-deserved.   He loves the research and the customer interactions at the National Archives, and it shows.  This raise will be handy as we work towards an investment property in 2016.   I keep very busy at my job with St. Louis County’s benefits office.  I am constantly planning ahead, while reminding myself to take a breath and being mindful of the present moment.   After years of my supervisors’ prompting, I am public speaking now.  My position as the employee wellness coordinator gives me a platform to work from.  The series of enrichment classes I have and am developing for the employees are on “resilience and beyond”.  I speak from personal experience and with heart.

In July Dean and I visited the German town of Hermann, Missouri for our 5th wedding anniversary, where we married 5-1/2 years ago.  We came upon a “business opportunity”, a cute historic guest house, a late 1800’s cottage-style.    Dean and I took a few days to think and pray on this possibility.  We decided to act on this dream.  The next several weeks brought us a declined loan as it was the wrong type of loan for this property.  So we began the process again with a local Hermann bank on November 7, but we quickly ended the process on November 10 after our main water line in our residence burst sending 1 – 2 inches of muddy water onto the slab floor.  It was and still is unknown how much will actually come out of our pockets.  We anticipate a few thousand for the insurance deductible and upgrades with all laminate flooring and all new doors.  The unexpected inheritance from my deceased patriarch was very timely for Dean and I.  It is being stretched to meet many needs.  So that Hermann historic guest house still needs a new owner as the current owners are hoping to travel with their retirement.  They asked, and we continue to pray.  See what God has in mind for us.  Dean’s 1st grandchild is due in May.  Another girl to spoil!  Vacation plans are being sketched, may have us going North, South, and West this year.

This rental house we are in while our house is in renovations has broadened my thought on “home”.  “Home” is where you lay your head, and share your heart and blessings with your family.  And family comes in all shapes and sizes, this I have grown to understand.  One type and size does not fit all. The December record-breaking floods came 3 blocks from our rental house this week.  I had to remind myself where “home” is and who “family” really is to get through those stormy nights.  So “let the good times roll” and we welcome 2016!Home Sign

New Years Celebration BalloonsFrom Dean and Anna Gall’s home to yours, love and blessings that overflow this 2016.

Bigger Portions

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I begin this blog post with the verse in Jeremiah, reminding us each you are set apart for God’s purposes.  “I knew you before I formed you … I set you apart.”  This year has been a full one once again, full of people, projects, places, overflowing blessings, as well as trials and destructive floods.  I still believe most people are good, and if working together we can build a barn quicker than alone.  I believe the blessing jar is overflowing as the year ends, and dreams can stay alive as we share what we have been blessed with.

This time of year we each get a full course of people in huge portions just as the holiday foods.  An upset stomach, headache, and exhaustion can result. Behaviors such as insecurity, jealousy, backbiting, plotting, exclusion displayed throughout the year will come about during the holidays, sometimes in bigger portions. Difficult encounters can be embraced with a smile and words of grace and truth. Ask for God’s grace!  I do.  Unless feelings are addressed by each person, little chance for reconciliation in relationships.  I still believe in miracles.  And I believe in dreaming.  I believe a bigger home or second home will come about for Dean and I in 2016.  What blessings overflowed for you in 2015?  What are you believing for in 2016?  I’d love to hear.

The Basics

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Gratitude

One water pipe can change the course of one’s life.  A broken one anyway! Life took a U-turn or some may say a few steps back.  I remind myself that life is not a linear course.  There is so much to learn and experience for it to be a flat, straight line.  Dean and I are back to the basics.  Simple living arrangements in a 1-bedroom studio apartment in a hotel. Stripped to enough clothing for one week.  And I am managing!  Maybe I need to rid myself of the excess in my closets at home collecting dust?  Same with food provisions.  We manage without all the condiments in the frig and choices in the cupboards.  What about all the nick nacks that we packed those 2 days immediately after the flood?  I could give away or toss away into the trash.  The basics indeed, and I am grateful to have a warm bed, comfortable couch, a stove to cook on, breakfast served daily, and the ability to write.

Our plan to buy a guest house in our beloved Hermann, Missouri was curtailed with the water main break in our home 2 weeks ago. We have to take care of our own residence before providing for others. Purples, lavendar, greens, and grapevines color my vision to share a tranquil retreat with others.  This will come about … God’s perfect timing and plans.  We focus on new flooring, walls, and doors for our home.  God’s provisions and blessings.  The basics and the details are in His hands.

 

Irish Blessings

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Daffodil
This St. Patrick’s Day brought snow flurries, sleety rain, thunder, and later pouring rain. No rainbow with a pot of gold, though the soil still welcomes much moisture after the parched seasons of past. Hard to believe yesterday was a warm and partly sunny spring-like day. Yellow daffodils blooming on the country hillsides contrasting green while tree frogs croaked near the rain-filled creek beds. Midnight, our labrador retriever seemed to be in heaven sitting in the slushy cold rain, dreaming of ducks and geese landing on the water while Dean and I worked at the greenhouse. I, bundled in boots, snow pants, heavy winter coat, and hat kept warming water on the camp stove for hot tea. My Irish blessings came with an old hymn this morning at church …
An Old Irish Blessing
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

I Am Perfect

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redembersIt has been less than a perfect week this week, actually very far from it! I helped put a fire out at work on Wednesday. Literally, and yes on Ash Wednesday, I played firefighter just before I was due out from the office. The ‘flight or fight” response came out, and I stayed to fight. I helped put a fire out that was on the rooftop, just outside my office. My building has been under construction for months, and the rooftop became the main project the past 2-3 weeks. Shingle tar was bubbling, a nearby plank board was glowing with red embers, with high winds blowing. After calling security and waiting for 5 minutes with no avail, I checked the rooftop door and it was unlocked. The fire hydrant was blocked with construction equipment, so my co-worker poured water from a pitcher onto the fire while I kept the door open. In 30 seconds it all was a smoking mess! Still cannot see clearly why we did the wrong thing. Authorities were notified, the site inspected, little damage, and no one injured. You would think, our superiors would be elated, right? Yet we were to set the fire alarm, escape, and wait for the local firefighters to show up or not. This past month, the firefighters never showed at 2 other fire alarms. Apparently, a complete investigation is underway to find out the cause. A local firefighter would have been a neutral party, to announce whether it was an employee fault or the fault of the contracted construction crew. I try to do the right thing, though what is right to me and 7 other people who were at the scene of the fire during and immediately afterwards, is wrong to the superiors.
On the way home from church today I saw a local shop sign that says, “I am nobody. Nobody is perfect. Therefore, I am perfect.” A humorous confidence booster, I would say. But it was just what I needed to remind me to laugh. And that confidence and esteem is a matter of perception, self-perception and God’s perception. God’s Word tells me that “I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalms 139:14). If I listened to others, I am nobody. If I listen to God, I am perfect. Then I replace the “I am” with “you are fearfully and wonderfully made” to forgive and bless the less than honest people, when I really rather not. Right now, it is a process. My attitude and sarcasm about this smoky mess are simmering down. I feel like shouting on the rooftop, “I am perfect in God’s eyes … I did the right thing!” Though I will settle with just knowing how God feels about me, and that means everything to me. The grace of God …

Christmas Eve

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I just have a couple of gifts to wrap and brunch preparations this evening. I get better each year with do-ahead plans for the gatherings and celebrations. But I am weary by Christmas Eve. What I grow weary of is the pettiness that people bring with the holidays … and expectations galore! Do you remember the Billy Crystal movie City Slickers where he is told by the lone cowboy (Palance), “Find that ‘just one thing’?” I believe in Christmas and the gift God brought us with His Son Jesus. Nothing else matters. In a few minutes I will attend church, focus on that “just one thing” Jesus, Our Gift, worship Him alone, and allow His presence to permeate the remainder of my evening and Christmas Day. Christmas blessings to you!

Blessing Jar

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Blessings come in different forms.  Counting my blessings is a mindset when I buried my father less than 3 weeks ago after his 9-month battle with brain cancer.  Still grieving.  But I came across this website blog about a blessing jar:  http://thefrugalgirls.com/2012/11/the-blessing-jar.html.  Cute  craft idea!  The photo below comes from this blog. Reading the blog, it reminds me to recall all the wonderful things that took place this year.  It’s been a very difficult year, so I think  a bit of a challenge with this blessing search …  I will start with my family, my big, big family!  To begin my husband, Dean is just want I need.  He is multi-talented, jack of all trades. And he is so patient with me, my ideas, my projects, my moods, etc.  And on top of that Dean is affectionate and thoughtful.  My hubby rubs my stinking feet after a long day working in the greenhouse.  And then there is my children … my oldest daughter, Rachel has a smile, kind word, and humor that will turn any sour day into a sweet one!   And then my Elisabeth, her beautiful acceptance of this diverse life is such an example to me.  She grows more saintly with her patience!  Both of my daughters suffer with degenerative disc disease, but continue to bring joy to the people  around them despite their pain.  My son, Ben has the most tender heart that permeates through this tough world we live in.  He held his arm around me during my father’s memorial service.   Probably an uncool thing to do in most 19-year old young men’s eyes, but he does not care what others think.  My grandchildren, well read about all five in my earlier blog:   https://deannagreensandgardenart.wordpress.com/2012/10/04/they-are-mine-alright/.  And then there is the extended family.  My family grew closer through my father’s terminal illness.  My sister traveled 3 trips from the west coast to be at my mother’s and father’s beckon call for months.  My two brothers took over the needs of my 97-year old grandfather as my father could no longer take this role.  My mother did not give up on my father’s wish to die at home.  So she had many endless hours as his nurse, you know,  24/7.  My employer was so patient, allowing me time away to run errands for my mother and visit my father.  Co-workers and vendors I work closely with, asked how Dad was and I am doing even today.  And the solace the greenhouse plants and soil gave me from this tiresome world we live in.  So how I can summarize this year  is “God is good”.  He takes care of us!  We are truly blessed!  What will you put into your blessing jar?   Funny thing about this photo, my Dad’s nickname is Marty.  I wonder what musings he is having in heaven today?