Today my heart is bursting with gratitude. To God for all the beauty that surrounds me in His creation, for my health, for my family, and for giving His son, Jesus, to atone for MY sins, taking that burden from me. I do not deserve any of it.

Gratitude also for my family, and their goodness. I don’t deserve that either. Especially when I have taken time (selfishly, some would say) to observe some of God’s creation, including birds, when I could have stayed home and worked. The time spent watching birds is time well spent, in my opinion anyway.

You see, the bird on the right in the photo below, is one that is not supposed to be in Iowa. It is a Yellow-billed Loon, and is normally only found in the far northern reaches of our hemisphere, in northern Canada and Alaska, with their wintering grounds in the Aleutians and off the coast of British Columbia. Iowa is far out of their normal range, even for migration. Of course, I HAD to see this rare find. The other bird is a Common Loon, not normally here either, but does migrate through occasionally.

Both birds are immature and look nothing like they will look in their adult plumage. The photo below is of an adult Common Loon. The Yellow-billed adult will look similar, though larger and with a large yellow bill instead of the dark one.

The image below is of the Yellow-billed Loon I saw last week. I think you can see that its bill is much larger and lighter than that of the other loon.

But, I digress! Typical when I begin to talk about birds.  Back to the Gratitude story, though the birds are some of God’s creation for which I am grateful.

I am a member of our local Kiwanis club and Kiwanis International. Our mission is to ‘change the world, one child, one community, at a time’. Our whole focus is on helping and providing for kids. To do that, of course, it takes money. Our primary fundraiser just finished today with the end of the Midwest Old Thresher’s Reunion, an annual 5 day event over Labor Day weekend, in neighboring Henry County and Mount Pleasant, Iowa. The Old Thresher’s Reunion, pays our club to man the campground gate, registering, checking in and checking out the campers that flock to this event. I am guessing (I did not count the registration cards last night) that there were somewhere between 1,200 and 1,500 registered campers.

The photo above is from the Midwest Old Thresher’s Reunion camper webpage. It looks like a small city.

This takes a lot of manpower (and womanpower too!) for a couple of weeks, part of that time having personnel there around the clock. Somewhere on my other computer are some photos of our people working the gate, but, with lime water pickles needing attention and other chores on my list of To Do’s,(thankfully, mowing isn’t one of them) I don’t have time to find them. I tell you all of this because I worked 6 eight hour shifts at the Reunion, the latest being yesterday (Labor Day). We were quite busy as hundreds of campers were checking out. The rest will leave today.

My family was here on Sunday for dinner, though I was embarrassed to have them see my shaggy yard and weedy flowerbeds. The day last week that I was free to mow, it rained. Some things can’t be helped , so I swallowed my embarrassment and had them come anyway. My niece was home from South Carolina,and my younger daughter and husband down from Minnesota, and we hadn’t been together since Easter, so it was time.

Now, for the gratitude part.

This morning I went out to feed the birds and was shocked and surprised to see that my yard had been mowed, a couple of volunteer trees cut down (that I had been wanting someone, with a chain saw and the skill to run it, to remove), and the grass trimmed around the trees, etc. Also, my porch swing on a stand, was upright again. It had blown over in a windstorm a couple of weeks ago. It was late last night when I got home, and didn’t notice the changes in the dark. My eyes started leaking and I knew who had been so kind and gracious to do this for me.

My older daughter had mentioned Sunday, “did you know there is a tree (volunteer) growing in the spruce tree in the back yard?”

I did, and said I had asked a couple of people to remove it, who said they would but hadn’t followed through. I also said, “I guess if I want something done I need to ask Pat (her husband) to do it.” I knew if he said he would do it, it would be done. However, I didn’t ask him as I just hated to do that. They have their own busy lives and work to do.

Like good little fairies, they arrived after I left yesterday to work at The Old Thresher’s Reunion and did all that work. For me. I am humbled. And grateful.

I really don’t know how to thank them properly. Perhaps a card???? 🙂 Of course, a card. But that won’t be enough.

I will just try to be an unselfish, grateful, and helpful to them if possible, Mom and Mom-in-Law. It isn’t enough, but I have learned that sometimes gratitude itself is enough.

This post is the long way of saying, “Be grateful. Every day is a gift. And every day brings other gifts for which to be full of gratitude.”

Thank you, God. And thank you, my children.

16 thoughts on “Gratitude”

  1. Enjoyed your post – and the pictures of the loons. They are beautiful birds, indeed! You were – as you said – blessed to see them. And your daughter and SIL are also blessings for which I know you are grateful! Thank you for sharing your days!!


    1. Thanks much, Mary! It has been a busy couple of weeks. Love the loons! Pat did whack off a couple of daylilies, but that is a small price to pay for all their work. They will probably grow back anyway. 🙂


  2. Wow! You had a busy, busy weekend and, I’m sure, lots of planning leading up to it as well. So glad that your daughter and son-in-law could help you out with the yard work…I bet that they were happy to do it too! 🙂


    1. Thank you for stopping by Amy, even though the post had nothing to do with a card. Other than my intent to make a thank you card for them. 🙂
      It was truly a shock to see a neat, mowed lawn, and an upright swing.


  3. Julie, you are a special creation and our Lord has blessed you for blessing others. What a joy to see the loons. I love their calls and miss that about the Adirondack lakes. Those are long days at the Reunion. SU needs a loon stamp! Have a wonderful week.


    1. I, too, love to listen to the loons, Karen. That is what I miss most about our summer trips to Canada to fish. Thanks for your kind words. Agree that SU needs a loon stamp. I do know of a company that makes a loon stamp though, if you want one. Guess we should put that request in the sandbox.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. You do more than your share for others so I’m sure others enjoy helping you, especially if it is family. Mama kept thanking me for every little thing I’d do for her, while I was thinking it was a privilege to get to repay all she’d done for me all my life. Thanks for sharing the birds and part of your busy life. It was good to hear from you!


    1. Thanks so much Susan! You probably thought I had disappeared under a rock or something, but I am still here. I am glad you were able to do for your mom. I think as we age, or as my friend says ‘grow up’, we are more cognizant of our need of help and at the same time reluctant to ask for it. I do enjoy the birds and hope I don’t bore people with them. I guess I just want others to be aware of how special, and necessary, they are. I will try to be more consistent with posting.


  5. Wow! Well written, well lived. You have modeled selfless giving to your family and those around you, so I am not surprised they blessed you. Great tribute to your kids and to you, though I know that wasn’t your intent. Thanks for sharing. Love you. k.


    1. Well, I don’t know about that. I think you give me too much credit. But, Thanks all the same. Not only did they mow and weed eat, Pat cut out the tree that was growing in the spruce, took out the bracing wires on 3 other trees and weed-eated the WHOLE ditch. The place looks better than it has looked for a long time. Now, to get to the weedy flower beds! So glad you and Carrie could be here, even though it was brief. Love goes both ways.


  6. Julie, a beautiful well-written post showing much gratitude and love. Your children (daughter and SIL) were wanting to show their love and appreciation for you. What a wonderful surprise when you looked out. I bet there was a smile on your face. I miss your post, maybe the busy summer farm time will slow down soon and you will be able to give us one of your post to enjoy.


    1. Not sure if you could call it a smile, Shirley. I think I was in shock for a bit. Then, I cried. To think that they spent so much time and effort in the heat, just to do that for me. Well, I guess you could say I was overwhelmed! Thanks for your kind words. I intend to post more regularly from now on.


  7. What a beautiful story Julie! Your family sounds very special. Gratitude for sure!!! And your loon story and pictures are pretty neat… who knew? We are avid bird folks as we’ll, with several feeders just out our back ~ red-bellied woodpeckers and downies, and all the ‘usual’ birds. Hummingbirds are spending a lot of time at our two feeders right now, preparing for that long trek to So America. My hubby is also a member of Kiwanis, was president of tghe local chapter last year. Their big event is a 5K race or walk with various age groups; printing an ad journal (Graham’s job for several years now), getting sponsors. It’s a good fund-raiser. Blessings to you…


    1. Thank you, Terry Lynn! Glad to meet another bird lover. Say hello to my fellow Kiwanian. Our next fundraiser is two weeks from Saturday, our Kids’ Day parade and Pancake feed. We usually feed around 2,000 people our famous ‘made-from-scratch’ pancakes and sausage, have a great parade, face painting, clowns, bouncy house, obstacle course, pony rides, petting zoo and a kiddie tractor pull. Everything is free except for the pancake breakfast. Lots of fun, but I am always glad when it is over.


  8. Julie, thank you for reminding us to be grateful for the many blessings bestowed upon us each day! My husband and I are birders and have spent time birding all over this beautiful country we live in. You captured a beautiful photo of the Yellow-billed Loon! Happy stampin’ and birding!!


    1. Thank YOU for your kind words, Joyce. I have been in most of the states, unfortunately, many of them before I was actively photographing them and before I was all that interested. Now, I must go back and bird in those states. Who knows what I might find? (Actually, I am not a ‘birder’, I am a bird photographer, just learning about birds.) They are among the best of the blessings we have.


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