|Posted on July 11, 2019 at 4:25 PM|
My german great grandmother married on July 1887 in Columbia, SD. She raised eleven children on the Dakota Prairie with cloth diapers, no hot running water, no electric wash machine, no microwave and without Advil. I can’t image the energy required to cook daily meals on a coal burning stove or toilet train a toddler with an outdoor toilet and a few small tin bowls for night time and cold winter days. Maybe this is the reason why many boy toddlers wore a long shirt dress until they learned to unbutton their trousers.
In the 1960s, my fraternal grandma Mae still had an outdoor toilet on her farm. The small unpainted shack rested on the edge of her farmyard next to her chicken coops. I reluctantly used the weathered wooden single hole commode twice; first for the experience and once for an emergency. Then I understood why she kept the convenient building.
Today, I sit in my air-conditioned home with a deep freeze full of ready-made meals and the latest instant coffee brewer for my daily caffeine fix. My indoor porcelain toilet has a silent flush and an automatic freshener. I admit it. I am spoiled. Lord, thank you for giving me a warm comfortable house.
|Posted on August 8, 2018 at 11:15 AM|
A TIME TO RESTORE
While shopping for a lake retreat, I suddenly noticed store clerks busy stocking shelves with Christmas ornaments and decorations. Staring at a wall adorned with artificial evergreen wreaths and red velvet bows I suddenly realized this year is half over. Where did the year go? Last Christmas my daughter had received her sixth brain surgery and my husband’s breathing issues had resulted in wearing an oxygen mask covering his nose and transforming his appearance to resemble a Star Wars character. In the middle of the doctor and hospital visits, I tore my meniscus in my right knee. Closing my eyes, I whispered, “Dear God, please let the next six months keep us healthy and out of the hospital.” Thankfully, the sleepless nights and the countless visits with the doctors were hopefully behind us. Today, I only wanted to focus on two relaxing days at the lake with my sister. I grabbed a large bag of sunflower seeds and a case of vitamin water and retreated to my car remembering the last six months. Only a month ago, I sat in the hospital parking lot crying out to God for just a normal day without doctors. Today, is that day.
Thank you Lord for answering my prayer.
Thank you Lord for being faithful.
Thank you Lord for restoring my hope.
Thank you Lord for never giving up on me.
May I never forget the importance of seeking God for his direction and his answers. I don’t always understand, but I know the Lord will carry me through every challenge.
|Posted on December 24, 2017 at 4:45 PM|
|Posted on March 2, 2017 at 3:30 PM|
Dad burnt our garbage in two old oil barrels. On rural farms in 1960, this was a common practice. We lived too far from the city dump. Burning trash intrigued me. At times, it was a spectacular display. Each burning object exhibited a different hue from yellow, orange, bright red to a deep violet. Roasting objects crackled with random popping noises. This display kept me entertained for several minutes.
On one occasion, dad burnt a truck load of feed sacks. The flames escalated ten feet in the air leaving a large deposit of fluffy gray ashes piled a foot high. This pile enticed me to examine it further. When the flames ceased, I touched the ashes discovering them to be silky soft like baby powder. As smoke lingered in the air, my curiosity continued. Removing my shoes and socks, I walked into the piles of ashes. The gray powder swished between my toes. It felt amazing. I cupped the ashes into my hands rubbing them on my legs and arms like lotion. Mysteriously, the fumes became intoxicating. I couldn’t breath. I coughed and coughed. I had to clear my lungs. Gagging, I ran to the water well and rinsed off my face. I gulped the cold water down my throat. After three lingering swallows of water, my coughing stopped. My heart pounded in my chest. But, I could breathe again.
This was frightening. What was in those ashes?
What was in those sacks?
This was a scary discovery.
I didn’t inform mom and dad about my episode. I learned the danger of fire.
Two weeks later, I discovered my younger sister, Vonne crying in the middle of the yard. I yelled asking what is wrong? Yet, she remained frozen in place and continued her sobs. As the older sister, I had to examine her fears. She would not speak although she had a large range of vocabulary for a four year old. Slowly, she lifted her foot. Large blisters covered her foot. My eyes glanced towards the trash barrels as smoke still filtrated the air. Examining Vonne’s other foot, it too had blisters. Tears rolled down Vonne’s dirty face leaving behind a clean trail of pink cheeks. I knew what happened, but I had to ask. Vonne, did you walk in the ashes by the trash barrels? She nodded her head. Suddenly, adrenaline rushed inside me.
I grabbed Vonne under her arms informing her to hold on my neck. She was too heavy for me to lift, but my burst of adrenaline allowed me to carry her into the house. I placed Vonne on a foot stool in the kitchen and prepared a bowl of cold water filled with ice cubes. Her small feet fit perfectly into mom’s metal bowl. Does that feel better? She nodded. When her tears stopped, she gave me a soft hug. I wiped her face and hands and told her to keep her feet in ice water until the pain stops. I had no idea how long that would be. I scurried to the living room and positioned the television so we could watch cartoons from the kitchen. We sat together for two hours until supper time. I made more three trays of ice cubes to keep her feet comfortable. Three trays were all I could find.
After supper, dad carried Vonne upstairs to our bedroom. She fell asleep before I finished reading the third chapter in my new fairy tale book.
She looked peaceful as she slept. Strangely, she began snoring. I giggled. I had never heard her snore before. She must be all right. I closed my book and said my prayers.
Thank you Jesus for protecting my sister. I love her and.... her snoring. I am very tired tonight.
Good night, Lord.
|Posted on January 16, 2017 at 1:05 PM|
The Movie Manchester By the Sea intrigued me. Hopefully, it would be an interesting “chick flick”. Since my husband was on a business trip, I went by myself.
The opening scene began with a group of adult men playing pool, swearing and drunk. Disappointed again. Why can’t a movie be told without fowl language? Doesn’t anyone know how to tell a story without four letter words flying out of their mouths? I grabbed my coat on to leave the theater, but I stayed. Maybe I could find a heartfelt character in this story.
The main character was a grieving father who lost his two children in a house fire.
Throughout the movie, this broken man battled between his alcohol addiction and the despair of losing his precious children. His wife divorced him. His uncontrollable behavior and his addiction excavated into financial loss. Instead of searching for help, he withdraws from everyone except his best friend and brother. His relentless brother understands his pain although any help goes unacknowledged. Unexpectedly, his dependable brother dies of a heart attack. Another loss. More pain. Deeper heartache. To his dismay, his brother’s attorneys informs him that he is the sole guardian for his brother’s fifteen year old son. How could he raise a teenager when he couldn’t overcome his own demons?
At this moment, being the romantic optimist, I wanted this father to get help. Please move on. Please forgive yourself and overcome your demons. Stop this self-destruction. I was rooting for him. Suddenly, I started reflecting on my past encounter of friends, bosses, and relatives who also had similar problems. Many of them were still struggling. The answer seems simple, just stop the destruction. However, the episodes of addiction expands over months, months and decades. Then, it is a habit. It is apart of the addicts existence. . It is their identify.
God tells us to focus on where we see love, grace and his truth. God reminds us to, ”Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8 Is it easy? No. It will be hard. It will take time. But, when we accept our faults and ask God for forgiveness, things change. God is ready to help us walk through the valley of despair and heal us. You can do it! But not alone. We need God. We have a loving heavenly father who sent his son to save us from our self-destruction. We are over-comers through him.
Jesus said, “It is finished”. He has overcome the destruction of sin. Forgive yourself. Keep searching for his truth. He loves you no matter what has happened. He cares.
When we acknowledge God, he will show us how to live victorious without guilt, shame and fear. The fruit of his spirit is joy, peace, love and self-control. Live free.
Joyce Yexley, Author
|Posted on June 10, 2016 at 2:45 AM|
Last night I placed a popcorn bag into the microwave to enjoy a snack while watching my favorite television episode of Downton Abbey. During the commercial break, I usually prepared my popcorn before the commercial concluded. Last night was different. Instead of the aroma of hot buttered popcorn, the kitchen room filled with the disgusting odor of burnt popcorn. I had used the same popcorn brand from the same box of microwave popcorn so I couldn’t determine the problem. I instantly became frustrated with my situation when the television commercials ended and I saw Lady Mary appear. Lady Mary was anxiously waiting for her lover Matthew Crowley to return from war. I canceled my popcorn snack. A simple glass of ice water proved sufficient. Lady Mary became my priority for the next hour. My bedroom door remained closed while I sat in bed undisturbed watching Downton Abbey. Will Lady Mary’s heart strings be broken? How long will Lady Mary wait for Matthew?
No one enjoys waiting. We hate stop lights and long lines at the check out counters. We become irritated when fast food doesn’t arrive within five minutes at the drive up window. Few of us have the patience to go fishing for more than an hour without a nibble. We all want it now—right now.
The Word of God teaches that some of our best lessons are learned while waiting. Waiting rooms are hard classrooms, but important. Honestly, if we really actually knew how long we had to wait for some things, we would plan alternative solutions.
Instead, God uses the waiting period for our good. There are many rewards in waiting, but, three lessons I have treasured.
1. We learn to trust God.
Many friends enjoy giving advice and solutions for your life, but only God knows the right plan and purpose for you. He says “Trust in the LORD with all thy heart; and lean not unto thy own understanding.” Proverb 3:5,6 God is the only one who can truly understand us. When we trust God, He will lead us through the fulfillment of our purpose.
2. We discover His will.
Many times we seek the quickest solution to our problem only to find out it was wrong. God has our best in mind for us. The Lord is good to those who wait For him.
Stay in prayer. Read his word and listen to his voice to guide you. He is working all things together for our good. Romans 8:28
3. We receive His strength.
God says, “He gives strength to the weary, and to him to who lacks might He increases with power…those who wait upon the Lord will gain new strength. Isaiah 40:29
As a young child, I often fainted and acquired panic attacks. As I grew my relationship with God, my endurance increased as well as my self-control. As we seek God through prayer, we grow in his attributes of joy, peace, patience, love, kindness and self-control. Galatians 5:22
Waiting on God is like planting a corn field, You prepare the soil, plant the seeds and water it. Then you wait.
To see a sprout.
To see a bud.
All in His time.
Author, Joyce Yexley
Not My Plan:
|Posted on April 28, 2016 at 6:25 PM|
Artist Terry Redlin captured the nostalgia of Midwest living. He painted each outdoor scene with a mystic glow of sun light reflecting across the canvas. Miraculously, he gave us a snap shot of country living including: corn fields, harvest time, winter nature, and Christmas at the white country church. I first discovered this artist while living in Kansas City. From across the room, a picture of a familiar prairie scene captured my attention. I soon discovered this artist had captured a South Dakota sunset on the prairie where I had lived. Joy and pleasant memories flooded my soul. As an amateur artist, I envied his talent to create the spirit of my South Dakota heritage. It brought comfort to this homesick lady.
Twenty years later, Redlin built an architectural museum in Watertown, South Dakota to display his prairie legacy in this gallery. As a Watertown native, he continued painting and sharing his memories of rural life until health issues in 2007. This week, Terry Redlin passed away. Thankfully, he us left precious gifts sketched on canvas capturing sunsets and rural family living. With deep apreciation, thank you Terry Redlin for sharing your artist talent with the world.
|Posted on April 20, 2016 at 4:00 PM|
In November, Mother rested a soft pink bundle on my lap as I sat on the sofa next to my older brother. At the top of the blanket appeared two little eyes crowned with curly dark hair. My baby sister didn’t look like me. After two photographs, mother informed us our sister’s name is Yvonne Rena. It seemed like a long strange name. I had never heard this name before. I called her baby girl —for awhile. My brother Ray and I pulled the blanket open to examine her tiny toes. I grabbed her hand and kissed it. She wasn’t much bigger than my play doll except she had moving parts.
For the first three years, my sister and I sleep in the same room. She slept in a crib. I slept in a twin bed. At the age of three, she crawled out of her crib and climbed into my bed in the middle of the night. She squirmed and kicked causing me to retreat into her crib. I was always a light sleeper. Finally, dad removed the crib and twin bed, replacing them with one full size bed. We shared our bed and our bedroom together for the next eighteen years.
Yvonne grew into a lovely teenager. Her smile was infectious. Her friendly nature attracted several friends. I envied her easy going personality. I had anxiety attacks and preferred being alone with my art projects. When I left for college, Yvonne entered high school. She flourished. She had more friends that I could count. I was happy for her. We became best friends. When she entered college, she visited me in graduate school. We slept in the same twin bed just like twenty years ago. We embarrassed our journey and the adventure of becoming independent women. Yvonne was devoted sister who laughed at my jokes and admired my talents. We talked on the telephone for hours. After we both married, we remained best friends. She encouraged me to be a better person and a devoted mother.
God does not always reveal our future. When we are young, we are often unable to understand the importance of family and friends. God encourages us to trust our journey by following his loving truth. I am so grateful that I have a younger sister who has become my mentor and prayer partner for life. Yvonne became a nurse who has given me endless advice for my daughter with challenges. I became an interior home consultant who helped her update her home. God is faithful to meet our every need.
Psalms 37:4 Take delight in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.
|Posted on April 5, 2016 at 6:05 PM|
What radio station do you listen to? Is it music, news, weather, a talk show or sports? My husband listens to the Love Channel which plays the tops hits from the 1970s and 1980s. Frankly, they are boring to me. Maybe I am not a romantic. I love country music and the peppy songs from the 1960s, news and talk radio shows. In college, my favorite music station played the American Top 40 with disc jockey Casey Kasem. His intriguing voice presented trivia facts about each song writer as well as each artists. By the late 1970s, Kasem’s program expanded from three to four hours. I was one of the million listeners. We were all hooked. Everyone wanted to know the No. 1 song. Yet, his show was more than the top forty countdown. Kasem also read letters written by listeners to dedicate songs to far away friends and loved ones.
By the 1980s, Kasem became known as a music historian. Kasem inspired teenagers around the globe to talented artists, inspiring stories, and mental enjoyment. Kasem ended every program with— “Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.”
Today, I ponder why I haven’t been devoted to Christian music. I love the inspiring old songs and hymns especially Come Thou Font and Hallelujah. The bible tells us , "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God." Colossians 3:16
My favorite artists are The Martins. I love their harmony. God created unique sounds of harmony in music. I cannot imagine life without music. God knew we needed a sound to heal, inspire, comfort, refresh, rejoice and touch our hearts. Music can flow into our spirit where our mind cannot go.
"Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation." Psalm 95:1
God didn't exclude anyone from singing his praises. My husband can not hold a tune, but he tries. He worships. He enjoys singing. My oldest daughter has special needs, but her passion is singing and playing her keyboard. It brings me joy when I hear her play. How much more does God love it when we sing and play for him"
If music can do all these things, why don’t I listen to more spiritual music? I must confess I can get side tracked into watching television and listening to news, but I can do better. Today, I am devoting my attention to Christian music and bible scriptures. Granted I grew up on a farm and I still love country music. Yet, I need to Stay Tuned into God’s music and live refreshed and inspired. I am sure heaven overflows with songs that we have never heard. Oh, how glorious. God has a purpose for music in our life. But, it is our duty to stayed tuned, listen and grow.
|Posted on April 3, 2016 at 6:25 PM|
Memories of Little Chick
One spring day, Grandma Mae presented three baby chicks to our family. Delighted, I gave her a big hug. Their bright yellow feathers were soft and delicate. My brother Carl located a large cardboard box and found a shallow bowl. After filling the bowl with water, I placed it into the box for our baby chicks. My brother was not interested in babysitting a bird. My little sister Von and I loved accepting the role as caregivers.
After two days, Carl’s chick died. I did not understand why it died. Was it sick? Maybe it needed more attention-or more food? My sister placed her baby chick into her doll buggy strolling through every room in our farm house. She wanted to place a scarf on her chick’s head, but I couldn’t get it tied to stay on. I decided to dress up my chick with nail polish. A couple drops of pink nail polish on its feet looked awesome.
By day four, Von’s chick died. My chick wearing pink nail polish stood all alone in the box. Again, we did not understand why they died. We had bonded with these little birds. I was sad. Yet, my three year old sister returned to her plastic doll. Was my chick doomed to be next? I wanted to raise it into a laying hen. Grandma Mae would be proud of me.
On day six, I could smell the chicken’s litter box as I walked down to the basement. Pew. Pew. Cleaning out a litter box was an awful task. After a few attempts to wash the cardboard box, I decided a new box would be a better solution. Mother’s storage room was stacked with boxes so I established a new home for little chick. Soon I realized my chick was very smelly, too. Chick needed a bath. I retrieved mother’s dish soap and created a warm bubble bath for little chick. Surprised. The water quickly matted the soft yellow feathers against its body. Chick looked sick. She began to shake. I dried her off with a bath towel, but her feathers remained matted against her frame. Suddenly, I had an idea. Mother purchased a new clothes dryer. Maybe the warm arm air could dry those feathers. I placed little chick inside the dryer and turned the dryer setting to delicate. This had to be a solution. I felt encouraged. Suddenly I heard a thump, thump, thump. It echoed from the dryer. Oh, what have I done? I thought my chick would ride around the drum until she became fluffy and warm. When I opened the dryer door, little chick fell from the top of the drum. When I picked up little chick her neck rested on its body. My heart sank. What’s wrong with its neck? I tried to straighten the neck. But, each time its’ head fell down. I placed my two fingers on its’ chest and tried to pump its’ heart back to life. Nothing. Again. Nothing.
Little chick remained lifeless. What did I do? How could I be so stupid? I killed little chick.
In mother’s storage room, I found an old shoebox and gathered some soft toilet tissue making a soft bed for little chick. I blew her feathers until they became fluffy and straighten her legs and pink feet. On top of the shoe box, I scribbled “Good-Bye little Chick, I love you.” Tears ran down my cheeks. I retrieved dad’s shovel from his shop and walked into the shelter belt where my favorite tree stood. Thankfully, the ground was soft to dig a shallow grave. On top of the grave, I placed a smooth rock. With pink nail polished, I drew a picture of little chick with a smile. Heaven will be a better place for little chick.
How will I tell grandma?
Author: Joyce Yexley