The Magnolia Tree


The Magnolia Tree

Winter is whimpering.
Dreary days come and go.
March winds are bickering.
Spring is making a show.

Heleborus was faithful
to show up in snow,
but its’ debut is fading
as the daffodils grow.

The forsythias stun us
in a short burst of bright,
but the most magnificent fuss
seems to come overnight.

It’s the herald of spring
and most gardeners agree,
the most charming tall bling
the Magnolia tree.


Warm Wednesday Words: Hope, Promises and Renewal

Fall is a time to slow down, renew and wait for, (if not invest in), the promises of spring.   It is a time of digging deep, burrowing in, savoring fall aromas such as fresh cut wood and pumpkin candles, and feasting on the deep, glorious colors of autumn just before the stark nakedness of winter.  It is a time to trust that what may seem bleak and obscure as winter descends will burst forth into its own “glory”, of sorts, in God’s time.

A bunch of tulip bulbs ready for fall planting.When my siblings and I were growing up, my dad would buy our winter wood supply in the fall and one of our chores was to stack it outside the basement door for use in the wood furnace that was in the basement.  Though we sometimes grumbled about the job, knowing the wood was purchased and stacked was one of many comforts of fall.

wood stackAnother nostalgic fall comfort is the sight of home canned goods labeled and on the pantry shelves.  This was the harvest that would help carry us through until the next garden season.

home canned goodsThis fall, in more ways then one, I am focusing on the promises of “spring” to carry me through the “winter”.

IMG_8576“At no other time (than autumn) does the earth let itself be inhaled in one smell, the ripe earth; in a smell that is in no way inferior to the smell of the sea, bitter where it borders on taste, and more honeysweet where you feel it touching the first sounds. Containing depth within itself, darkness, something of the grave almost.”
Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters on Cezanne


Jacob’s dog, Cyrus (below), and Hannah’s dog, Prim, have decided to “help” me dig a large hold for planting bulbs here.  I just hope they will retire the job after the bulbs are planted!



In the cocoon is the promise of a butterfly,
At the dawn, night is set awry,
Storms become a memory in the arch of a rainbow,
and God’s presence rushes in when on our knees we say so.
Though tulip bulbs are humble for a season,
and with our prayers we wrestle and reason,
Victory burst from the cross and the tomb
and is safe in the hearts of the bride of the Groom.

LaDonna English

IMG_8586What hidden promises are you standing on this fall?

Hymn written by Natalie Sleeth.  © 1986 Hope Publishing Co., Carol Stream, IL 60188,
All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Warm Wednesday Words: Watch for God

watch for God

As we do Vacation Bible School this week at our church, we are wearing bracelets that say “Watch for God” as reminders to keep tracking God in our personal life.  Since God’s mercies are new every morning, it takes “watching” to see them each day.   If I’m not watching for God and His mercies then I often not only miss the sweetly personal supernatural, but default to complaining, fear, worry, etc.  The more I train my eye to watch for God, the more I see Him at work and my eye becomes trained to see the blessing in something that at first glance may just seem like something negative.

To watch for God at work in trials is like seeing drops of water in arid places.  The first definition for “arid” in is: “being without moisture; extremely dry; parched: arid land; an arid climate”.  In our lives arid places can symbolize those times of trials and stretching, often lengthy and difficult.  But unlike geographically arid regions, which result in fruitlessness, “arid” life seasons can actually stimulate “fruit” production.  Our difficult seasons cause us to either watch for God and see His mercies, or become bitter and miss the God sightings.  

When we choose to watch for God at work in our arid places, we see mercy drops and sometimes showers even in our deserts.   Oswald Chambers said, “…God has to take us into the valley, and put us through fires and floods to batter us into shape, until we get to the place where He can trust us with the veritable reality.”

“And the parched ground shall become a pool” (Isa. 35:7),  “I will open rivers on the bare heights, and fountains in the midst of the valleys.  I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water.” (Isa. 41:18).  I will make them and the places surrounding my hill a blessing.  I will send down showers in season; there will be showers of blessing.” (Ezek. 34:26)  God promises showers of mercy and blessing upon our arid places.  Are you watching for Him in faith?


Steelville Harvest Festival Parade

I am not sure when Steelville began having Harvest Festivals and how much the festivities have evolved over the years, but for as long as I can remember (and I grew up here), it’s been a tradition.   Festivities last a week and include:  car shows, sidewalk sales, barbeques, a community gospel sing (which has graduated from outdoors on the court house lawn years ago, to a fine music theater, a queen pageant, a parade and a rodeo.  Some traditions are just too hard to break and who would want to, anyway?  There’s something sweet about a whole town and more milling around Main Street, visiting, eating, and waiting for the parade even in the sweltering heat!

IMG_6730                                       IMG_6733

You are never too old to snag some candy.  The older ones of us wear shorts with cargo pockets to look more discreet, huh, Brandon?

IMG_6731                      IMG_6735Floats, floats…..

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and more colorful floats!   Churches, organizations, businesses….many have worked on more than one float!  Nice looking elephant, Jacob!

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IMG_6755                     IMG_6757

Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

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      The band sure gets off easy these days.  When I was a band member we had to don heavy suits with tall hats that guaranteed to raise the body temperature 10 degrees.  But we were unmistakably the band!  The other band photograph didn’t show up well because they nearly got lost in the crowd in their white t-shirts.

The  football team that was started because of the  dream of a local pastor a few years ago for the benefit of  young men in the community.



There were queens, and queen contestants, service personnel; i.e. , police cars, firetrucks, ambulances.  There were old cars, spyders….and bringing up the rear, horses and talented equestrians.

IMG_6771                                IMG_6772

Deco Mesh Wreath

To make a deco mesh wreath, you will need a flat metal wreath base.  This one measures to a 20″ styrofoam base, but you may want larger, if you want space for a center piece.  I didn’t want to wait on a mail order and couldn’t find a base locally, so I made one from wire, which I don’t recommend.  It was a bit tedious.  Anyway, after you get your base you need to cut a pile of pipe cleaners in half or buy “ties”.  Then position them around a couple of inner rings of the circle.  I used a dot of superglue to hold mine in place to make it easier, but you don’t have to.   If you are ambidextrous, bilaterally symmetrically brained and possibly have three hands, or are just a bit more coordinated than me, you will find glue totally unnecessary.     IMG_6686

Next, put more cut pipe cleaners on two outer rings of the circle, placing them at intervals from where the first ties are.    Since my base only had three rings, I reused the middle ring for my second round of ties, along with the outer ring.  After this is done, grab the start of your wide deco mesh (10-21 or so inches) base color, and tie it down starting anywhere on the inner ring.

IMG_6687Then bend about 6-9″ into a poof and tie down at the next inner circle tie.  I started out around 9″, but had to go back and adjust the outer ring poofs smaller, since my roll ran out.  Continue all the way around the circle and without cutting it, continue on into the outer circle in the same way until completed.


Then take a narrower accent color of deco mesh (or wired ribbon, burlap, etc.), and weave back and forth from inner circle to outer circle tying in place with pipe cleaners as you go.  On this one, I skipped every other tied place on both inner and outer circle, but you can decide what you like best.


After this you can choose a few embellishments.  If your wreath base is large enough, you may want to hang a family letter or other centerpiece in the middle.  My base was not large enough for this, so I just added a few brown pieces into the sides.  I may pick up a little orange to add to it for fall and then replace with something more wintery later on.