Cloudy Skies

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It has been a long, cold, snowy, winter.  I can tolerate a few days here and there of bone-chilling cold, a few days of snow, a few gloomy days.  But this year has got me screaming, “Enough already!” The cloudy gray skies are oppressive.  They are pushing me to the edge of depression.  Will winter never end?  Will Spring ever come?  I want to see daffodils smiling in flower beds.  I want to hear birds chirping in trees with green leaves.  I want to feel the warmth of sunshine beating down on me.

If like me, this winter is testing your endurance, then you know the feeling of oppressive, cloudy gray skies.

Life in general, has its’ seasons.  There are seasons of heart bursting joy, seasons of soul breaking grief, seasons of plenty, and of great need.  There are seasons of health, hope, and excitement, and some of illness, trauma, and desperation, and stress.

Right now we are in that last life season.  In the last 2-3 weeks, my husband has had 4 trips to the ER, and a couple of Dr. visits in between.  My father has been in the hospital and faces some extended time in rehab, my father-in-law is going through health issues, as is my brother-in-law. Health issues alone cause stress.  More loved ones…more stress.  More health issues, more financial issues.  The snowball keeps on rolling!  Inside we are screaming, “Enough already!”

I look at that picture.  I see the winter snow, the dark, dreary, storm clouds that make the day feel cold and hard.

I take a second look and I see something else.  I see the clouds trying to rise.  I see a very small blue patch at the edge of darkness.  A small vision of hope, that the storm will soon pass, and blue skies and sunnier times lie ahead.

Jesus said he will never leave me nor forsake me.  He told me not to worry about tomorrow, today has enough troubles of its own.  He told me he looks after the sparrow, and I am worth much more than the sparrow.

Thank you Jesus for your word, for your truth, your guidance, and your hope, and encouragement in times of cloudy skies.  Thank you Jesus, for never leaving me.

 

 

Mikaylee Belle

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The miracle of birth..that’s a phrase we hear all the time.  The thing is, it really is a miracle.  Our minds are too small to truly comprehend the process and creation of life.  Our Creator, who “knew us before He formed us in our mother’s womb”, tells us “His ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts, higher than our thoughts.”

Although I may never truly comprehend it, I will always be in awe of it, revere it, appreciate it, and do my best to defend, and protect it.

There is nothing that can bring tears of joy to my eyes, and fill my heart with pure love and adoration, as holding a newborn baby.

I have been so blessed.  I have three wonderful kids, and nine also wonderful grandkids.

Number nine arrived on December 9, 2016.  She is a beautiful little girl who has stolen my heart.  Of course, so did numbers one through eight!

Mikaylee Belle.  She sounds like a little southern belle.  I see her in ruffles and lace, carrying a perisol in the hot summer sun, her long curls peeking out of a floppy hat.

Of course I know she will more than likely be a little cowgirl, dressed in blue jeans, and cowboy boots, her long curls, braided into pigtails, peeking out of a cowboy hat. And that is fine with me.  That was just like her mama.

This little girl is so sweet, so irresistable, and adorable.  I just want to soak up every moment of her babyness.  I want to snuggle her.  I want to stare into her big, sparkling eyes, and drown in her little giggles and smiles.  She is perfection.

This new addition to our family was named after a couple of people who are so dear to me.  Mikaylee is in honor of her grandpa Mike; my husband, and Belle was the middle name of my mother, Harriett Craig.  Belle was also the name of her dad’s great grandma, so she carries a lot of heritage with her name.

I wish for this baby to be blessed with the purest love throughout her lifetime.  I wish for her the kind of childhood I had; one with a mom and dad that was always there everyday.  Meals shared together around the table.  Family games played around that same table.  I wish for her to know and love nature and all its beauty.  I want for her the simple joys of country life.  I want her to have a lifetime bond with her big brother; a friendship that withstands all storms. I wish for her to grow into a strong, independent woman full of compassion and love, and respect for others.  I wish for her a loving, loyal husband and children of her own.

But more than all this, I wish for this baby to know Jesus, to grow under His love and guidance.  To know His word, and to walk in His ways.  I want her to know Him as her friend, to know He will never leave her nor forsake her.

Mikaylee Belle…you sweet little gift from God, you wonder of this miracle we call birth, I wish for you to know how much your Grandma loves you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Winter Wonderland

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Look at that picture.  Isn’t that beautiful?  Yes, yes it is!  It is a winter wonderland.  Mountains plastered with snow for all those who love to ski, are just waiting for you.  Everything you see is blanketed with the purest, sparkling, white fluff.  Trees couldn’t look prettier. Rivers are accented with snow-covered rocks and ice, filling you with pure awe at their beauty. Kids with rosy cheeks are bundled up, sledding down slopes, building snowmen and forts.  The world looks like a Norman Rockwell Christmas card.

The air in that picture is so chilly, no, downright cold, that you can feel it in the picture. Have you ever taken a deep breath in that kind of weather and had your nostrils freeze shut?  If you are lucky enough to wear glasses, like me,  two minutes in that air, and your frames are so cold they freeze your sinus cavities and give you an instant headache.  Even bundled up like an Eskimo, my fingers and feet turn numb in minutes, my nose turns redder than Rudolph’s, and my teeth start chattering.  I quiver so bad people must think I am having some kind of convulsions!

The streets and roads become skating rinks for cars.  Sidewalks provide plenty of material for pedestrians to fill a year’s worth of content for”America’s Funniest Videos.”

I’ve seen my Dad and husband come in from feeding and doctoring cattle with icicles hanging off eyebrows, beards, and mustaches.

Yes, it is a beautiful Winter Wonderland.  It is God’s plan to let nature rest, store up some snow pack on the mountains to fill summer rivers and creeks, to give us moisture we will need for spring and summer down the road.  It is pretty, that fluffy, white stuff, that’s a fact.

That being said, I’m flat tired of winter wonderland!  I am tired of being cold.  Maybe if I had a fireplace to snuggle up to, which I don’t, ….no, not even that.  I am ready to skip Spring and go straight to summer.  Forget these snow banks, and give me green grass.  Forget parka coats and snow boots.  Give me t-shirts and flip-flops!!

Winter Wonderland?  I just wonder…will it EVER end?

Anniversary Blessings

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“That couple, their marriage is such an inspiration to me.”  Most of the time when I say or think that, I’m referring to someone older than me, whose lives have guided me, and shaped my life and decisions I’ve made in my own life and marriage.

My parents come to my mind, my grandparents, several aunts and uncles, some of my husbands’ family, and some very dear friends.

However, the couple I’m talking about today is my daughter Mindy, and her husband Brian.  They truly are an inspiration to me.  There are a lot of things about their marriage that remind me of my own.  They truly love each other, they are best friends, they live the same “ranch” lifestyle that we did.

But they have set an example on marriage and raising a family, that I wish I could have set for my children.

Early in their marriage they accepted Christ and He has been the foundation of their marriage and family.  They have raised their children in the church.  Because of that, their children all know the love of Jesus.  They know His word.  They read the Bible together as a family.  You can see the influence, the guidance, and love of Jesus in the lives of their three boys.  They are so polite and well-mannered.  They are considerate, compassionate, helpful, and loving young men.

Mindy and Brian would do anything for you.  They kept us in wood for more than a few winters.  They helped us if we needed help on the ranch.  They have helped us in our transition to city living.  They are there in times of crisis, or time of joy.  It is not just us they are there for.  I’ve seen the same selfless help and giving for neighbors, friends, and strangers.

They give their time to charity auctions for those in need.  They as a family, buy presents at Christmas for children who are not going to have much.

I am so proud of you Mindy and Brian. You bring me such joy, peace, and hope.  I know that because of you, my grandchildren will carry on the example you have provided for them.  Their children will have a better life because of the foundation you have set for your boys.

May God continue to guide you, and may He pour blessings on this, your anniversary!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May We Be Filled With Thanksgiving

It has been a couple of months since I have posted a new blog.  I’ve been distracted by tensions of a job change, elections, ….and well, to be honest I have just been in a dry spell!

It is Thanksgiving week, and I’m feeling a real need to focus on being thankful.  I know that shouldn’t be a hard thing, but sometimes life throws things at you that makes the Season of Thanksgiving a very hard time.

This year, for our family, it is such a time.  A few days ago a dear family member was taken from us much to soon.  He leaves behind a grieving wife, three daughters, grandkids, and extended family with holes in their hearts.  There will be a chair at the head of their Thanksgiving table this year that will be empty.

God tells us “In all things, give thanks.”  How, I have been asking myself, do we give thanks for something like this?  Then I realized I was reading that verse wrong.  It does not say give thanks for all things.  It says give thanks in all things.  His wife Sharon, and their kids, and families,  have been posting little tid-bits and pictures all week.  Little tid-bits into his character, and how he has blessed their lives.  Sometimes just a picture holding a child with such tenderness and love on his face.

That is how we give thanks “in” this.  They are the ones with the biggest holes in their hearts, and they (whether they know it or not) have been consoling and comforting us.  Advising us, “don’t take for granted that you have tomorrow, love and hold your loved ones today”.

So it is with this on my heart, that I want to say how thankful I am for my husband, for my three children, for all my grandchildren, including the one on the way, for my sister and her husband, and nephews, for my mom, dad and step mom, all my extended family, and for all my husband’s family.  I love you all so much.  Each one of you, (here, or in eternity) have blessed my life.  I thank God for placing you in my life and making my life one of such joy and love.

Sharon, to you and your girls, I want you to know how thankful we are to have known Phil, to have had him, and you all in our lives, how much we will miss him, how much we love you.  May God draw you all near him and give you peace.

I also thank you God, for giving us your Son, that who so ever believeth on him, shall not perish, but have ever lasting life.

May we focus not on the things of this world, but keep our eyes on Him.  May we all , no matter our joy, or pain, be filled with Thanksgiving.

 

 

 

 

Never Forget!

Like most people, I can remember exactly where I was, and what I was doing when I first saw that first plane hit the first tower.

Disbelief, shock, fear, anger, helplessness, compassion… all those things that consumed my very being, overtake me every time I see those images again.  Fifteen years and those pictures still leave me feeling shattered.  I can not begin to imagine what they do to the survivors, and the loved ones of those who were murdered, and those who gave their lives for their fellow-men and women.

Our country is so divided right now.  I guess election year politics will always do that to some degree.  But I feel this is so much more than that.  It seems to me that tolerance, and political correctness, have taken the place of old-fashioned reason and common sense.

We are still in the middle of a war on terror.  Radical Islamists have told us they are going to continue attacking us and they plan on doing that “from within.” They have told us they will be coming in with the refugees our country is bringing in by the thousands.  Why are we not only allowing this, but so many cheering this flood of danger through our borders?

It has been fifteen years, so maybe some have forgotten, or have become desensitized by so many smaller attacks; I just don’t know.

I remember.  I will never forget.  I hope you remember also.  Feel free to share if you do!

Never Forget!

 Towers, planes, smoke, and ash

visions burned deep in my mind,

our Pentagon, Flight 93,

fear and faith became intertwined.

Hearts of rage, minds taught to hate,

cowards of evil design

failed to destroy the US of A,

that’s founded on His word divine.

Policemen, firemen, service men, medics,

ordinary men who just cared,

risked their own lives to help those in need

with emotions and hearts torn and bared.

Fathers, mothers, husbands, and wives,

children and loved ones distraught,

Pain felt by us all as we witnessed the day,

and the images that still can haunt.

Heroes, and faith, and stories of hope,

of goodness, and selfless love,

of sacrifice, the eternal kind,

and miraculous help from above.

Remember the picture of men with a flag,

amid the rubble now called Ground Zero.

Never forget the evil of hate,

the sacrifice, love and each hero.

Sheryl Craig Russell

Sweet Smells Of Summer!

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Hay field in Montana

Summer is almost over.  The days are still warm, the evenings are cooling down, and autumn is right around the corner.

I love fall.  In fact, it is my favorite season.  However, I don’t look forward to what follows it.  For that reason, I always cling to summer as long  as I can.  I cling to every moment of warm sunshine, the long hours of daylight, and the sweet smells of summer!

I love the smell of hamburgers and steaks cooking on the barbecue.  I love the smell of clothes hanging on the clothes line.  I love the smells of the flowers.  I love the smell of fresh dill and basil growing in the garden.  I love the smell of fresh mowed grass.  I love to sit by the creek or river, watch the water rush over the rocks, smell the freshness it imparts, and feel the peace filling my soul.  I love the smell of the summer air after a rainstorm.

But my favorite smell of summer is that of fresh mowed hay.  It fills me up with memories of my childhood; carefree, wonderful days!  It brings me back to when my children were young, and we would take lunch out to my husband, swathing or baling hay.  I relive the picnics we had in the hay fields.  Such good memories…..oh, how I love the sweet, sweet, smells of summer!