Thursday, October 16, 2014


Got no butler, got no maid
Still I think I've been overpaid
I got the sun in the morning and the moon at night
-I got the sun in the morning and the moon at night
Got no silver, got no gold
What I got can't be bought or sold
I got the sun in the morning and the moon at night
-I got the sun in the morning and the moon at night
Sunshine gives me a lovely day
Moonlight gives me the Milky Way
Got no heirlooms for my kin
Made no will but when I cash in
I leave the sun in the morning and the moon at night
And with the sun in the morning
And the moon in the evening they're all right

Irving Berlin

"Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over......"

Luke 6

Too much fun!


Too spontaneous?
Too full?

Too colorful?

Too happy?

Too productive?

Too summery?

Too bountiful?

Too playful?

Too rainy?

Too home grown?

Too much excitement?

When I think about birthdays, I think of Luke all the blessings heap up, cascade, pour out, are gathered in blessed spontaneous glorious disarray, so bountiful, I cannot measure or name them all.

I say...let us count blessings instead of candles!  
Especially if your cake looks more like this:
Too many?
Not nearly enough!

than this!

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Green Eyed Monster

"ST. LOUIS (KTVI) – As St. Louis gets set for another “Red October”, the Cardinals and their fans get slammed in the national media.
Wall Street Journal report labeled the Cardinals the most “hateable” team in the 2014 Major League Baseball playoffs."
"Don’t hate us be­cause we’re beau­tiful here in St. Louis. But if you do, just know that we’re sorry. Go Cards!"

Francis Slay, mayor St. Louis

...And why, you might ask, are the St. Louis Cardinals, a fabled franchise from a small market city, even on the radar screen with such legendary bulls'eyes as the Yankees or the Red Sox on one coast, or those in Dodger blue or San Fran orange on the other?  What could possibly get the attention of other fans in other cities and their media?  Why are the guys with the birds on the bat inciting emotions like "hate"? 

I got only one answer....and it will hold true whether the Cards advance this year or not: 


But, this isn't really a post about baseball.  Nope, this is about power. 

As a child, my farmer husband dreamt of fielding grounders at second base for the Cardinals, even though calling him"JULI"was ironic, not iconic. He would never have imagined a world in which spraying champagne in the Cardinal clubhouse would pale in comparison to an unexpressed need of many outside farming to sail high above the prairie seas of rustling grain in a galleon of green steel delivering more than 300 horsepower and enough electronic bells and whistles to convince the driver he's piloting a Star Wars X Wing.

What is it about combines that makes people with no knowledge of agriculture and no desire to be a farmer want to climb that steep ladder and drive off into the sunset?

 Tots not yet out of diapers, esteemed public servants and diplomats, professors with pedigrees, writers and historians of note, and, no doubt, the guy next to you in traffic, all want to partake of the penultimate drama of nature: to battle the elements and looming winter to bring in the bounty of the spring and summer toil and ensure security for the year to come. It is the story that binds our ancestors before history to those tied to the land today by nothing more than menus and websites.  And in the fall of the year, that elemental urge is expressed by a desire to harvest...something big.... 

You think I'm kidding?  Over our years of farming, we have entertained all matter of guests in the buddy seat of the combine. Farmers do their work all spring and summer noted only by statisticians. But when we tell folks to come back and visit in the fall, when the summer heat subsides, the sunsets and sunrises glow, and the air hums with the throb of big motors, they brighten and ask, "Can I ride the combine?"

In the real world, harvest is both more and less than the stately crawl of the giant machines around the gentle contours of sun drenched hills and river bottom fields so long the rows vanish in a point.  It is long: long days becoming short nights, the caresses of September morphing into the nail scratching blackboard irritation of November. 

Harvest is endurance, patience, boredom, beauty, and breakdowns. 

From the highway at 70 mph, it has the choreographed grace of ballet or a beehive, with each piece sliding into its task with just-in-time efficiency.

In reality, mud, dust, oil and electricity are mortal enemies of fine tuning. Entropy happens between May and October. There's many a slip 'twixt the cup of spring planting and the lip of harvest. Varmints tunnel into terraces; branches fall in turning rows; downpours ravage conservation structures; stones rise to the surface.

In all fairness, even farmers are susceptible to the siren song of the combine and the romantic aura that seems to surround the harvest season.  Every September the big behemoths grumble to life and are coaxed out of their sheds like grizzlies after hibernation.  They are greased, washed, and given acomplete physical.  After a particularly rough year, they may get the equivalent of a makeover.  The hierarchy of combines rules on our farm; the patriarch drives the newest model and the other combine is driven by....well, not the patriarch.  Even the youngest riders recognize this pecking order and follow one of their own, choosing Grandpa Charlie's combine (less dust, more electronics, etc.) to...well, the other guy's.

Mayor Francis Slay could be speaking for farmers when he writes:  
"The point is that we here in the Mid­west are not a boast­ful peo­ple. We’re hum­ble and qui­etly go about our busi­ness, invent­ing the things you use every day, en­ter­tain­ing you, find­ing employ­ment for your cit­i­zens and hand­ing you losses on the base­ball field reg­u­larly. (We’re es­pe­cially sorry to Chicago.)"

During harvest, we farmers fill our go-cups, or our aging Thermoses, vainly run the wipers in an attempt to sweep off last night's dust, and drive through the foggy or frosty air to work.  We shatter the morning's silence, rev up the throttle on the tractor to run the auger, start the grain trucks and watch the torrent of grain leave the hoppers, pump some diesel....and climb into our homes for the harvest, our room with a view.  The hydraulics whine, the chains and sickle bars clatter and the whole contraption rumbles off, clicking off the hours, clearing the acres, multiplying the acres row by row.   Pretty mundane.  Not the stuff of heroics..

 We'll hope nothing breaks....

we will eat another meal out of plastic....

and.... not to worry.....
we'd be pleased to have you ride along.....

Sunday, September 21, 2014

And Give Us Today Our Daily Bread...

Smell that?
Oh no, well, I guess you can''re reading a blog post and not listening for the buzzer to go off because the combined aromas of cinnamon and oven are drifting into the living room. .....
....and sure enough! There it is!
I have never attempted to tally the number of loaves of apple bread I have baked, the number of apples I have peeled to make those loaves, nor the number of said loaves I have taken to carry in dinners at our church.
Sometimes I think my fruit of the Spirit is peeling.....

But there are four more, ready to be bread...or dessert....or something to pop in the kids' mouths because they simply cannot wait their turn in line.....
As I stood at the counter this evening, counting the apples out six by six, (because a half dozen nice apples, peeled and cut in chunks, is almost always close enough to the four cups required by the recipe), I thought of our Saviour breaking bread, giving thanks, and passing the pieces to his disciples. I ponder the marvel of a loaf of bread....something that is ONE, but made to be shared with MANY, else why would there be not one, but two miracles performed by Jesus involving a multitude and a multiplying of bread.
Apple bread crumbles like crazy... So made to be morsels for many.
So much companionship over the many of my very favorite recipes have been shared by this church family!

"Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry And bring the homeless poor into the house; When you see the naked, to cover him; And not to hide yourself from your own flesh? Isaiah 58:7
Tomorrow we will gather together to eat again...
 To feed all who come to our open door.
 We will break bread with Communion and fellowship with a meal.
There will be plenty and no one will leave empty.

I end this with a little piece my uncle wrote many years ago for a family cookbook. It strikes me as so right in expressing the open table and generous hearts and hands I see around me....

Yes, everything....

Including the bread.

Friday, September 19, 2014

For Where Two or Three Are Gathered

One hundred years is a very long time: so long in fact that most of us here have only memories of those who remember the people who started this church.

When we look at the picture boards in the hallways, we are reaching back twenty, thirty, maybe forty years. In one way, that seems long ago: the photos are grainy, or Polaroids, or black and white.
There aren't very many of them either. We memorialized big events with posed and formal pictures in the not so distant past: church directories or a black and white spread in the Avalanche, not just a tap and a click on our universal and ubiquitous electronic devices. Our hair is funny in these pictures:it is big, or it exists. There are big glasses, mustaches where there are none these days, and embarrassing styles on men and women alike.
Here are group photos of groups that no longer exist and events that no longer take place. We place on our fingers gently on the photos of beloved faces, no longer part of our congregation here on earth, but smiling parts of the church of our memories and our future.

It is good to slow down and step back. We aren't the same, but why should we be? We are not called to stand pat, to bury our 'talent' in the ground for safe keeping. We ebb and flow with the passing of years, the population of our community, the talents of our members. We can get discouraged; we can be uplifted. We falter and we fail, but because we believe, we open another door.
And because we are family, we do it together.  As families do, we fuss, we disagree, we go away mad, but we also forgive and forget our differences.  We comfort, we rejoice, we lean on each other from cradle to grave, from generation to generation.  

We are celebrating our past, using our past as a vessel of thanksgiving for today's blessings and a prayer for such mercies to be granted in the future for this body of believers, this changing tapestry of people in the pews. This season begins the time of harvest. It is the perfect time to gather, give thanks, share memories, eat ( because this church does that so well!) and rejoice in a living, changing, and sustaining community of God's people.