Bless My Heart

Did you ever notice how Christmas seems like a great time to think about every-single-little-tiny one of our blessings? 

  • Family? Blessing.
  • Children? Blessing.
  • House? Blessing.
  • Heat? Blessing. 
  • Vehicle? Blessing.
  • Gas for the vehicle? Blessing. 
  • A warm place to sleep? Blessing. 
  • Being able to use a bathroom that’s not in a public building because there aren’t any private bathrooms on the street? Blessing. 
  • Food on the table? Blessing. 
  • A visit from Santa Claus? Blessing. 

A few days before Christmas, I went to the store in our small town. When leaving the store, I saw a man who was holding a sign, standing on the corner. 

We’ve lived in the town 15 years and there’s only been less than 10 times I’ve ever seen someone with a sign and because it’s a rare occasion here, I notice. 

For a few weeks, I’d had some money in my back pocket, I wasn’t spending it, just had it there. I pulled up and gave him my offer of a few bucks. He was beyond grateful. As he walked back towards the curb, I asked him what his sign said. 

“Need propane and a blanket.”

My heart broke. A blanket? Someone needs a blanket? You know what I mean? How many extra blankets do we have in a closet that rarely get used? 

I reached back in my pocket. 

That night our furnace started making racket. The times it happened before left us with no heat. Uh oh. The low forecasted for that night? 7 degrees. 

Thinking that the furnace would go out in the middle of the night, I was soooooo thankful for the blankets we have. I scrambled them all together and piled them on the bed. 

We didn’t lose our heat and our kind repairman arrived in the morning and fixed the furnace. 

Fast forward to Christmas Eve. We were up at my parents and Santa needed some batteries for Christmas morning. I went 20 miles to Iowa to get them. When I left the store, something caught my eye. 

On the corner by the stoplight was a mom with 2 little boys, who were blowing bubbles. A pretty joyous thing to see on Christmas Eve, until I saw her sign. 

I’m not exactly sure what the whole thing said, but what I saw was “I have 3 children and need food.”

I had $10, so I went to the dollar store. I did pretty darn good with that ten bucks. 10 packages of cookies in one box for $1. 2 cans of soup for $1.20. 2 packages of crackers for $2. A box of cereal for $1. And, 3 of those red handled plastic candy canes with candy in them for $3. Grand total? $9 and some change. 

I drove back to where she was and told her I had something for her. She had only one question. 

“Food?”

I handed her the stuff I bought. I don’t know if it’s a mom thing, but just looking into her eyes, there just seemed to be an understanding, you know? You never want your babies hungry. 

English clearly wasn’t her native language, but I’m sure what she did say, will stay with me always and forever. It was genuine, heartfelt, and simple:

“Bless my heart.”


Love and Light

Are you in the thick of the holiday rush? In the last minute scramble to  cross off to-do lists? On a cleaning frenzy right before the guests arrive?

I love this time of year. Just think, in a couple of days, the countdown to Christmas will reset to 365 days. Which means if it’s only a couple of days…

It’s almost Christmas!

This week has actually been a relaxing one for us. Our oven is still broken and believe it or not, that’s been quite a gift. Not being able to bake freed up tons of time.

Instead of having my cookbooks sprawled about, we made our usual peanut butter balls, but this time we fancied them up with chocolate chips and cake decorations. They are sooooo cute!

Wednesday evening, we took a drive. About 15 miles from here is one of the most festive houses I’ve ever seen. They have hundreds of those blow up holiday lights.

Every year since Little Bit was a little bit, we have slowly driven by there. There’s so much for the eyes to take in. Last year, we drove through their circle driveway and this time, we parked and got out.

Talk about some fun! We were both smiling from ear to ear. Almost every character you can think of was there including Mickey, Rudolph, Hello Kitty, Santa, Hocas Pocas, Snoopy, and more. Can you imagine being a kid there?

They also had lights that moved about and looked like glitter on the ground. Oh my, we loved running and dancing in them! What wonderful memories we made!

I hope that whatever you do this weekend fills your heart with joy, love and light. 

Merry Christmas.

1916 Baker’s Chocolate Advertisement

Love this ad from 100 years ago. Especially because my grandpa was born on December 11, 1916 and he would’ve been 2 weeks old on his first Christmas Day.

December is a month full of birthdays in our family. Little Bit’s and mine, my other grandpa’s in 1921, my dad’s, and my sweet nephew Seth has a birthday today!

Happy birthday, Seth! 

Thank you Miss Sheryl, for letting me share your post. Seeing it filled my heart with joy and smiles. Happy holidays to you and your family!

A Hundred Years Ago

Source: Good Housekeeping (December, 1916) Source: Good Housekeeping (December, 1916)

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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Just Slow Down

Have you ever noticed how sometimes the weeks seem to grab on to the wind’s coat tails? 

And, how sometimes , time itself is in a race to see how fast it can reach that last day of the month?

That’s how I’ve felt since October. Some days I wake up scratching my head, wondering where the moments have gone.

Simply put, we’ve been busy. Ugh. Now there’s a word with mixed meanings. If you’ve got nothing to do, busy seems like a dream come true. 

But, if you’re stuck underneath a giant to-do list, busy is the last thing you want to be. 

That’s where we’ve set up camp. Running here, running there, doing this, doing that. Gone ALL THE TIME. While the reasons behind all that doing are good, all that doing is wearing us out. 

Ten days ago, we took a break and went to my parent’s house for a week. It was nice. Our “have to be somewhere schedule” came to a screeching halt. I’ve gotta be honest here, it was freeing.

One evening we took a drive and ended up in a little bitty town. Like small. Super small. It was quite obvious it’s days of busy were long gone. 

The streets were literally gravel roads and as we made our way around the blocks, I noticed many of the houses looked like they were ten steps past abandoned. 

The storefront windows were empty and dark. The railroad tracks seemed lonely. Instead of hearing the constant chatter of train whistles blaring, there was only silence. 

The grain elevator stood tall as it braced itself against the sunset. I bet if such structures were given name tags, it would wear “Stately” quite well.

Although this might sound contrary, being there filled my heart with a sense of peace. I mean, can you imagine the town in it’s day? 

It was probably robust and bustling with families running here and there. Merchants getting their goods and setting up shop. Farmers raising crops and bringing them to town to sell. 

The church pews were probably crammed packed on Sunday mornings and during the week, the school desks probably held elbows on top and legs dangling below them. 

Being there that day was so refreshing. It was almost like we flipped back the calendar years, stepped right into days gone by, and for the first time in two months, actually had a chance to just slow down. 

Do The Talking

Lately my words are stuck. When I try to get an idea of what to write about, either nothing comes out at all or what does come out is sort of a jumbled up mess. 

Hello writer’s block…

So today, I thought I’d just let my photos do the talking. 


Put Your Feet Up

Have you ever been to Colorado?

My mom has some great stories about graduating high school, hopping a bus with her friend, and getting off in Loveland, Colorado.

Big Thompson and Estes Park rank really high in her favorite places. When I saw this post by the amazingly talented Sandy, I wanted to share it. Her words totally sum up what Colorado means to mom, and what Missouri with its clear creeks mean to me.

Thank you, Sandy, for allowing me share your lovely words.

Out of My Write Mind

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Relax
And
Watch
The river
Flow

You’ve
Got
No better
Place
To go

The water’s
Singing
Can you
Hear it

Sit back
And
Let
Your spirit
Feel it

Melodious
Chirping
Fills
The air

Erasing
Each
And
Every
Care

A gentle
Breeze
Stirs
Leaves
And
Grasses

Relax
A bit
While
Time
Passes

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Relax

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The Magic Of Steam Locomotives

As you can probably tell by now, I LOVE photography and one thing that is so awesome about blogging is being able to connect with other photographers.

Trains have been a big part of our life. Our first home was in a rural area, right beside the railroad tracks. For 8 years, train whistles filled our days and nights and rattled our dishes.

When Little Bit was two, his favorite thing was trains. I thought it was quite fitting, since he heard them all the time. We always had a plastic track set up on the floor.

When he was still two, we moved to our house now. Although we aren’t right next to the tracks anymore, we can still hear the train over the hills.

The railroad is really an important part of the landscape around here. All of our area small towns have tracks running through them. I love that. There’s such a history in it.

When I saw this post, honestly, I fell in love with it. Even though it is about steam engines, it hits home for me and I thought it would be a great one to share.

Thank you, Mr. Stormont for letting share your amazing photographs. What an honor!

Listening For Thunder

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The magic of steam locomotives is kept alive in many places, and none are more accessible than the Nevada Northern Railway in Ely, Nevada. Your ticket to the museum includes the grounds and the shops, where you’re (mostly) free to roam, and imagine, as I did in September.

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Pillar of Strength 

Have you ever stood underneath something and looked at what holds it up? 

Yesterday, we went to a creek we’ve been to a billion times. After we played and took some pictures, I found myself standing beneath the bridge. 

What an amazing concept! A structure designed to get you from one side to another. 

Without it, cars certainly could not cross there. The banks on both sides are too steep and some storm-filled days cause the gentle creek to turn into a rolling one.

If you read my post a few days ago,  you know that we had our safety foundations rattled on Monday. 

A few days have passed now, and the fear has subsided somewhat. Now I’m at the point where I can start pulling the lessons out of it. 

What happened kind of reminds me of a frigid winter morning. Picture a sun-filled sky, a layer of snow on the ground, and frost on the steps. 

It looks nice enough, right? After a few steps across the yard and around the corner of the house,  the wind appears out of nowhere and slaps the face, sending one running for a scarf. 

So what have I learned? 

  • Persistent gut instincts truly are a gift. It seems so easy to second guess them. Ignore them and sometimes they go away. Persistence gets attention. 
  • Things change. We’ve lived near that town for 15 years. That area used to be safe. It’s just not anymore. 
  • Using my writing voice brought out stories from friends who’ve had similar experiences at the same place. Before I wrote about it, I had no idea.
  • My small town-ness shines around me like neon lights. Which is ok in most instances, but not really that great in others. 
  • Fear definitely has its purpose, but doesn’t deserve a placemat at the supper table. 
  • In the midst of that awful situation, I was scared silly. Afterwards when I replayed it, I see that I am strong, smart, and courageous, even though I didn’t feel any of those at the time.
  • The libraries there are concerned about safety. Yesterday, I had an amazing conversation with a library employee at another branch. Turns out, they receive extensive safety training for all kinds of situations, have a set of policies for expected behavior in the buildings, and plans in place if there are issues. 
  • This certainly is not something that’s fun to talk about, but simple awareness could actually help someone else. 
  • Like those bridge supports, my past experiences held me up. My self defense class from 2001 kicked in. My days of working in questionable city neighborhoods came rushing back. My momma instinct that showed up when Little Bit was born was on full alert. 

My family, friends, blogging friends, and Facebook friends have held me up on tiptoes this week. 

    Thank you for that. It means so much.  Truly, you are a pillar of strength.