Dirt and Daydreams

As I walked down from Grandma’s house this evening, back to the cabin my sister and I share, and I caught a glimpse of the laundry hanging on the line and our ever-expanding container garden on our porch, with the evening sun streaming gold across the green of everything, it all seemed so perfect. My castle, I thought. One of the joys of living in a small house in the country is that the outdoors becomes an extension of everything that happens inside. It is almost as if the front door didn’t exist. This summer has been a delightful time spent largely outdoors, getting dirt under my fingernails, callouses on my hands, getting sunburned, sweaty, and stronger.

I love getting to the end of each day and actually being tired, and waking in the morning with muscles sore from the day before. I even love ruefully slathering aloe on sunburned shoulders because I forgot sunscreen while mowing the lawn. I love the sweat trickling down my back and down my face, and the dried mud on my pants. I love the nuisance of driving our laundry up to Grandma’s since we are without a washer or dryer, and the peacefulness of hanging the clean, wet laundry on our clothes line and watching it flutter in the breeze. I love our pots of tomatoes lined up neatly on our porch, and the overflowing planters and hanging baskets filled with a cacophony of color, flowers flashing and sparkling in the sun like gemstones. I love looking down at dirt- and sweat-streaked arms and filthy hands after planting flowers or starting seeds, and I love the quiet task of watering everything. I love the summer sights around our house – the wildflowers, Trixie lounging on top of her dog house, the cats frisking in the yard. I love morning or evening walks or runs.  I love the tasks that keep me outside, those things that blur the line between indoors and out. IMG_7947eIMG_7486IMG_7953eIMG_7941eIMG_7926eIMG_7919eIMG_7908eIMG_7814eGod has sure blessed me in ways I didn’t even know I wanted…with a country life full of color, dirt, and sweet daydreams.



Digging Out

When the weather folks began predicting a Christmas Day Blizzard almost a whole week before Christmas, many of us scoffed. The last couple of winter storms were somewhat over-hyped and, while being a little inconvenient, were really not severe. Christmas Eve rolled around and church was cancelled, and we really began betting on there ending up being nothing worth cancelling church over. Christmas morning rolled around and we got a dusting of snow, or a couple of inches, but nothing worth getting too excited about, and we continued to doubt the meteorologists. But then came the wet precipitation, the ice, and Christmas afternoon finally arrived in a whirlwind of snow and wind. Travel was not advised on pretty much all of the highways in and around the Black Hills, I-90 was closed, and the Christmas Day Blizzard arrived as predicted.
IMG_0347eOur mile-long driveway proved to be a hassle, and a lot of work went into shoveling parts of the driveway by hand on Monday, since the only person really familiar with the road grader is out of state for the time being. Trixie was in her element, and spent a good deal of the day tearing around to her little heart’s content. She loves the snow.
IMG_0336eSome of us humans love the snow as well, the rushing cold, the gleaming white. Shortcuts through a pasture turn into comical flounderings in knee-high drifts. Walking up the road to Grandma’s takes extra effort, since every step forward on the slick snow costs you six inches in backsliding. Pant legs freeze solid. But it is winter. It is supposed to be like this. The hassle doesn’t get to us. Granted, we didn’t lose power or need to be anywhere. “Hassle” is almost too big of a word to use.
IMG_0659eYesterday was beautiful and it was no problem getting back and forth between our house and Grandma’s, where Mom and Dad are currently staying, and which is the hub for family festivities. But this morning the wind picked up, and all the work that went into digging out Monday was drifted over. I went up to Grandma’s to get some firewood for the Miner’s Cabin, and on the way down I hit a drift and slid off the road. In the process of trying to get it back on the road, it slid deeper off into knee-deep drifts, so my uncle and I spent the next hour or two digging it out!
IMG_0343Currently no vehicle, including the Jeep, can make it all the way up to Grandma’s, so we get as far as we can and then walk the rest of the way. One of the other four-wheel drive vehicles got a flat on the way up, and the other truck is snowed in over at my uncle’s house. Winds of 20-30 miles per hour are expected tonight. More digging out tomorrow.
IMG_0658But God is good. He gives us trials, such as having one’s day turned topsy-turvy in a snow drift, as a reminder that we do not carry out our plans or order our lives – He does. He also sends reminders of his goodness and grace, such as the beauty of blowing snow in the sunlight, blue skies, fresh, crisp country air, starry nighttime, family fellowship, puppy antics, and kittens purring.
IMG_0630e B+WLife is good. God is wonderful.

Laura Elizabeth

Glimpse of History

There is something haunting about the beauty of these creatures. It is strange to see animals so muscled and powerful bedded down quietly in the tall grass, blinking sleepily in the bright sunlight, staring curiously at the intruders then losing interest, their massive horns spread broadly beyond the width of their shoulders. Only their horns are visible when they hunker down in the warm grass. IMG_4069IMG_3982IMG_3957IMG_3978Perhaps what is haunting is the feeling that even a barbed wire fence is no match for their strength. Or, perhaps it is the feeling that I’m staring into their eyes and getting a glimpse of history. Perhaps both.

Laura Elizabeth

Father’s Day

Father's Day 2016We observe or celebrate a lot of holidays – Patriotic days, like the Fourth of July and Veterans Day and Memorial Day, religious holidays like Christmas and Easter and Good Friday, national days of observance like Thanksgiving, and dozens of other lesser-known holidays. But I have to say that one of the best holidays, after those that celebrate Christ, has to be Father’s Day. We live in a society where the father’s role has been undermined, partly because of a society set against manhood, and partly because of self-sabotage. And I don’t get the impression that our culture as a whole really cares. The disappearance of the leader-father is overlooked in the shadow of other epidemics and controversies that ignite zeal and spend energy. How amazing, then, that we still have one day out of the year where we as a nation celebrate our fathers!

Father's Day 2016We celebrated today with a spur-of-the-moment jaunt to Lakota Lake for a little kayaking and enjoying of the fresh air and sunshine, and got ice cream on the way home at Rushmore Cave. Dad is handy with a grill and with a gun, so he grilled us up some venison from his hunting this past fall. Nothing quite like good venison steak and fresh corn on the cob, especially for a family who almost exclusively eats chicken. It’s a running joke. Watermelon up at Grandma’s, and an episode of the TV series Christie topped off our evening.

Father's Day 2016God’s design for the father is that he serve as leader in the home. He is to be the spiritual leader, and lead his children in the fear of the Lord. He is to love God first and foremost, and love his wife and cherish her, and teach his children to love and cherish her as well. He is to be a man of character and integrity, lovingly and gently leading his children, disciplining when necessary, and not provoking his children to anger or discouragement. That’s a tall order. And one, I believe, that truly requires God’s grace.

Father's Day 2016I’ve been so blessed to have a father who not only loves his family, but who has led his family consistently and courageously in Godliness. He sets an example of humility, of faith, and of trusting God in all things. He has a testimony of faith that is awe-inspiring, a testimony that proves that God can save anyone, no matter how wrong their life trajectory is, no matter how many bad life decisions a person has made, or how much they have rebelled against God. My dad’s testimony proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that a relationship with God truly is transforming.

UntitledDad’s life since he was saved has been characterized by a submission to God’s will, in the face of extreme odds, in the face of skepticism and criticism and lack of support. We wouldn’t be out here in South Dakota if it hadn’t been for Dad’s determination to submit to God’s will and to make his decisions based not off of practicality or the world’s model of success, but to make his decisions based on what would be best for his family, from a spiritual standpoint. Dad wouldn’t be in seminary right now at the age of 57 and pursuing full time ministry if it wasn’t for his determination to submit to God’s will, no matter how crazy it might appear to onlookers.

Father's Day 2016He has modeled love and faithfulness in marriage, he has modeled humility and gentleness in parenting, he is the man I love most in the world, the person I go to for advice and help and counsel, and as I get older he has become a friend as well. He isn’t perfect. He is a sinner just like I am, saved by the grace of God. But he loves the Lord with all of his heart, soul, and mind.

And I am so glad he is my dad.

Laura Elizabeth



The Swimming Hole

Just as we were all starting to wonder when we’d get some summer weather, a heat wave roared in and plunged the region into temperatures in the upper 80s and 90s. And yes, that is considered hot here! We’ve hardly had any rain in the last couple of weeks and the moisture is quickly drying up. It is almost as uncomfortable to walk barefoot across the lawn as to walk barefoot across our gravel driveway.
CuriosityYesterday, a bunch of us went over to Little Falls to cool off – Well, the kids were going to cool off. I prefer to watch from the shade. I take forever to get used to water temperatures so generally I just opt out of swimming, although the water yesterday would have been perfect, if I’d been dressed for swimming.
IMG_4548Little Falls used to be only a local haunt, but news of it has spread far and wide, and it is rare to drive past the turn off and see the parking lot empty. But we got down there and had the whole swimming hole to ourselves. The kids splashed and swam, caught fish in buckets, did cannonballs off the rocks, and had a ruckus of a good time.
IMG_4585A passel of butterflies was flittering around the little cove, and finally obliged by posing for a picture. They weren’t bothered by the heat! What color and life in such a tiny creature. Tiger SwallowtailsWe’d been there an hour when the sky clouded over a bit and the temperatures cooled – It looked like a storm was brewing, but other than a small rumble of thunder, nothing materialized.

What a great way to beat the heat – With a little bit of country fun.

Laura Elizabeth