SNOWBOUND SUNSHINE

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Jennifer Kay Lewis

It was Christmas morning of 1963.  It was bitterly c-o-l-d outdoors across the rolling hills of our majestic and peaceful Missouri countryside.

We had lived here for about ten years; but, we had never the seen such an intense snowstorm.  Over a period of ten-hours, we had received the most severe, white-out conditions we had ever experienced.

Daddy anxiously listened to the man on the radio,  “our local area had received nearly ten inches of slippery ice and hazardous deep snow.”  I remember how hard it was for Dad to walk two steps in this.

Our views from all directions – seemed to reveal no end to the extent of this blizzard or the storm’s unyielding magnitude.

From a child’s perspective, the best thing I got that year was a dolly I aptly named, Jill.  She was dressed in a bright red dress adorned with white lace, and like a tiny version of myself, she had thick, blonde, curly hair.  I still have my baby Jill.  Over the years, she has become rather tattered,  but I still remember how I cherished this baby-doll.

We had numerous funny, tender and compassionate caring times spent with many various needy animals and barnyard livestock.

One of the most vivid impressions that my brain captured, is that of Sunshine, our pet calf.  We nurtured that weak calf until she could, literally, stand on her own two legs.  Sunshine quickly took rich nourishment from our crudely fashioned nipple.

I remember, for a couple of days she seemed to be doing okay.  Then, all of a sudden, she took a turn for the worse.  Daddy shouted for us kids to help him get Sunshine in near the warmth of the oven.   The boys held her head in their diminutive arms and Daddy cradled her weakened, ravished body.  We kept kissing her and reassuring Sunshine “everything was going to be okay- she need not worry.”

Can you imagine this scene?  There we were, four little kids facing what we thought was the end of the world.  Our very own superman, Dad came to the rescue and convinced  us “we could nurse our pet back to health.”  Whatever happened ahead, we knew we were not going to give-up on Sunshine.  She needed us!

As time marched on, Sunshine became stronger and more and more active.  She stood-up and started walking-around in the house curiously checking things out.  Was this a good thing, or not?  As hopeful kids, we thought so.  However, it seemed rather questionable as Mom tried to create boundaries limiting where Sunshine could roam.

A couple of weeks had passed and Sunshine was well on her way to rejoining the rest of the herd.  She was jumping over furniture trying to find the nearest escape route.  I remember Mom yelling, “get that calf out of here!”  It was clear – it was time for her to go to her permanent home.

Since we lived so far off the beaten-path, we didn’t always call the vet.  We often chose to nurse animals of all kinds and hurting livestock back to wellness.

It is impossible for a child to see a sick animal,  or rejected animal and not take care of their prized possession.  Those kind of dejected livestock quickly won our compassionate Hearts and instantly managed to capture our time and attention.

On a more personal note, I vividly recall a little white lamb with brown markings rejected by her mom.  She was in dire need of being bottle-fed nutrient rich milk and I joyously answered her heartbreaking, cries.

As the smallest and weakest, my frail lamb was left behind.

When an animal got adopted into our family, one of the first things we did, was name the animal. Following protocol, I decided to name her.  It seemed fitting to me to name her Duckie.  “Why name her Duckie?”   Well, that is another story in itself.

My Mom had made me this cute white dress with rick-rack trim all around the ruffled skirt.  It was appliqued with an orange duck.  That dress was my favorite.  Mom even made stylish clothes for our fashionable Barbie, Midge, and Tammy dolls!

As soon as the school bus let us safely exit, I would run up the long drive to find Duckie  waiting.  Her little tail would be wagging so fast that I could hardly contain my giggles!    DUCKIE & JENNIFER

Duckie took to my glass Pepsi bottle rather hastily and soon she was well on the way to being able to be on her own.  That meant I would have to dismantle the temporary fenced-in area I had made for her as she could return to the larger barnyard grounds to join her unknown friends.

As usual, Mom was at hand with her trusty camera!  My treasured prize is a picture of me in my special duck dress bottle-feeding my sweet, little lamb, Duckie.

“Yes, our farm was our own glorious piece of Heaven! ”

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Growing In Christ,

Jen

 

PORTRAIT OF A FARMER

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Jennifer Kay Lewis

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.       Galatians 6:9

Proudly, I was raised on a hustle and bustle working farm sprawling a couple-hundred acres.  We had ten ponds on our farm and a wandering creek divided our land almost in half.  We were passed the life my parents had so well-known as they both had grown-up living similar traditions.  My parents and their parents embraced values of planting and harvesting crops and cultivating huge varieties of garden foods.  As four little Lewis kids, we were fortunate to learn valuable lessons from Mom and Dad and both sets of Grandparents.

As many of you who read this will also testify, the farm-life manages to keep you busy from before the sunrises until well-after sunset!  Our farm would easily be akin to those descriptive images.   Oh sure ~ there are plenty of fun-filled times to treasure as we compiled memories of yesteryear days.  If there weren’t any planned activities, when you put four inquisitive, inventive growing brains together in children, creative adventures are bound to be discovered.

Two little girls and two younger boys seemed to have no boundaries.  Our parents kept us heaped in what seemed endless ‘fix-it’ projects, and repair tasks.  But, as our ages dictated, they also spoiled us rotten with colorful bikes, all-terrain motorcycles and well-trained quarter horses, so we could easily traverse and crisscross our many acres.

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Children are a gift from the Lordthey are a reward from him.  Psalm 127:3

“Thank goodness for binoculars.”  Mom and Dad could stand on our Victorian front-porch and scout the land to, hopefully, spot their kids.    Think of turning loose four rambunctious young kids over two-hundred acres of investigative beckoning, land, it’s hard-telling where your youngsters may have landed.  Furthermore, it’s common knowledge that when things get ‘quiet’ you better find-out where your kids are and what they may be up to.

Often, our Mom would go to town to buy groceries and other staples we needed.  Typically, Mom would forego her own needs, and selflessly purchase for her children.  She liked to surprise us with a spiffy new outfit or the newest in shoes.  One of her inquisitive little kids would often ask of Mom “where did you get this?’  Mom’s witty and funny answer would always be, “at the ‘gettin place.”

And, as the warming sun rays and the spring rains permitted, Daddy would plant the corn and beans and walk through lengthy fields as he sowed oats.    Our father toiled long, hard days well into evening clearing the land of rocks that seemed to just keep multiplying and growing and out of thin-air.  Arduously, Dad methodically planted and as the unpredictable weather dictated, maybe Dad had to replant crops.  ALL FOR HIS WIFE AND FOUR CHILDREN!!

All summer, our superman, and hero Dad would walk down the rows cutting-down weeds and clearing paths for his combine to straddle the rows for harvest in fall.   (his only request was a Pepsi now and then.)  Then, we all Prayed to be blessed with bountiful harvest

The coziness of winter would creep-in with a kind of ragged sigh of relief.   We girls liked to create to artfully designed snow-angels and the boys would build the most elaborate snow-forts in the fresh white blankets.  On days we were stuck inside, we frequently played monopoly or put 1000-piece puzzles together, after shoveling snow from our long driveway.  (those Big complex puzzles were our Dad’s brilliant idea to keep us busy!  He picked the hardest ones for us to assemble.  Thanks a lot ~ Dad!)

In search of the ‘perfect’ Christmas tree, our vast woods would surely offer just the right sacrifice.   Then, before we knew it, here came spring again.  With God at the helm, we got to start all over again.  Ours was a unique and treasured life.  Indeed, the life, fun, and work of a Farmer is never-ending, but it is also a rich inheritance.  I cherish those days and the tender memories we all made together growing and investing in our beautiful farm!

Oh; but if I could turn back time …               

 … then I shall give you rains in their season, so that the land will yield its produce and the trees of the field will bear their fruit.                                                                                                                                                          Leviticus 26:4

Growing In Christ,

Jen

 

LEGACY

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by Jennifer Kay Lewis

LEGACY

“He cuts-off every branch in me that bears no fruit, While he prunes every Branch That Does Bear Fruit So That Will Become even more Fruitful.”          John  15:2

What Legacy do you want to leave?  Once in a while in the course of our ‘normal’ busy lives, we need to STOP to consider what we stand for and what we are giving back to society.   Today, I am taking time to reflect on the meaning of my life and I am asking you to Please do the same.

Several years ago, I found myself surrounded by confused, apprehensive, yet smiling little faces.  I had chosen to pursue the ever-changing world of Foster parenting.    At first, I thought this venture would be like a sort of hand-up and a help to the many children I came to adore.  However, the blessings I first thought would be theirs to cherish became mine to hold and keep forever!

Jesus reminds us in John 12-13: “Love each other as I have loved you.  Greater love has no One than this, that he lay down his life for his Friends.”

Usually, when a person reflects on these words, one might conjure-up some image of a warrior gallantly fighting in some horrific battle-zone, or hearing about some average, run-of-the-mill Joe rushing-in to save another person’s life just in the nick-of-time.  Those were the stereotypical thoughts that first came to my mind, until I had the pleasure of hosting my thirty-one Foster children.

As my aging father, has recently reminded me, “Jen, in the end, it’s what you give away that truly matters.”

Deep in reflective thought, I analyzed Daddy’s meaningful words.  I also allowed my memory antennae to wander back to those exhilarating, happy days we shared in Foster care.  In doing so, I quickly surmised that it is no wonder why the memories of those eventful years provided so much warmth and even tears of joy to this day!  It is also an important part of Jesus’s command to “love each other as I have loved you” ~ I had done just that in giving unconditional love and supportive nurturing to those precious, children.

If your ‘passion’ is working with our youth, you may be well-gratified working within your church.  Do you enjoy assisting another person?   You might think about a rewarding unpaid assistant position with your local hospital.   Maybe you would rather offer your specific skills to a growing business.

Again, it’s all about Giving!  (it’s kind of like a boom-a-rang ~ good things just seem to keep coming back your way when you forego self and think of another.)    When we find our niche ~ we find ourselves and live for others.

      “Let me be Satisfied with your Favor and filled with your Blessing.”                                                                                          Deuteronomy 33:23

       “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.”                                                                                                                     Romans 12:10

What are your values?  What are you teaching your Children? How you live each day will determine what you really want remembered about your days on this earth. Is your Legacy worth dying for?

Growing In Christ,

Jennifer