Tag Archives: Rain

Sometimes It Sucks to Be Right

The ground is cracked
    because there is no rain in the land;
the farmers are dismayed
    and cover their heads.
Jeremiah 14:4 (NIV)

Growing up in Iowa one is learns just how dependent our lives are on weather. I didn’t grow up on a farm and didn’t have a single family member who did. I knew nothing about agriculture. Still, when a boy grows up in a state that produces 15 billion bushels of corn a year and is the nation’s leading producer of soybeans, eggs, and hogs you can’t help but realize how dependent life is on seasons, earth, sun, and rain. When weather doesn’t cooperate for an extended period of time it’s a serious deal.

I remember as a kid one summer the midwest, and Iowa in particular, was experiencing a serious drought. Weather dominated the local news each night and the drought become a daily topic for the daily national newscasts as well. One evening during the usual network sitcom I watched as our local news station actually ran a scrolling bulletin along the bottom of the screen reporting that rain had unexpectedly developed over a small town where the local church was holding an evening prayer vigil. When was the last time your local news broke into programming to report an answered prayer? Yeah, it gets serious when rain doesn’t fall around here.

In the prophet Jeremiah’s day, drought was even more serious. In 21st century Iowa a drought means financial crisis. In Jeremiah’s day drought meant everyone could literally die.

That’s the backdrop on today’s chapter. Keep in mind that the book of Jeremiah is actually an anthology of the ancient prophet’s poetry and messages. Today’s chapter and tomorrow’s chapter are a poetic conversation with Jeremiah pleading with God for mercy amidst a drought and God responding (but not in a “Oh good! Let’s scroll God’s answer along the bottom of Magnum P.I.!” kind of way).

The answer Jeremiah gets from God is not good news and Jeremiah notices that he seems to be the only prophet who isn’t broadcasting optimistic prognostications of showers of blessing and a flood of deliverance. Jeremiah gets to be the lone voice proclaiming, “Tighten your belt, pack your bags, and get ready to move. This drought isn’t ending anytime soon,” and then he has the pleasure of adding, “after the drought the forecast is for famine and war.

Ugh. No wonder Jeremiah takes note that it seems much easier to say the things people want to hear. It sucks to be the lone harbinger of bad news. It sucks even worse to be right.

I’ve noticed along life’s journey that when the whole world is freaking out and broadcasting fear and anxiety 24/7 it is rarely as bad as the groupthink and crowd-speak makes it. The opposite is also true. When the groupthink and crowd-speak is predicting perpetually perfect conditions and a never-ending bull market of bliss, you can be pretty sure that the bubble’s going to burst at some point. I’ve learned to be wary of the din of the crowd. I try to keep my ears open for a lonely voice with a different message, usually found somewhere in the wilderness (or flyover country where I live).

Btw, it’s been rainy the past couple of weeks here in Iowa. I’d say things are looking good for planting season and the crops this year. But please don’t take my word for it. When it comes to farming I don’t have a clue what I’m talking about.

The Latest 05-29-2016

Wendy and I typically spend a long weekend or two each March or April getting the Lake House cleaned and ready for the busy summer season. With our involvement in Almost, Maine taking precedent in March and April, followed quickly by our responsibilities at Pella’s Tulip Time in early May, we haven’t spent nearly as much time in the Ozarks as we would have liked. This week we made up for lost time.

Last weekend, after Chad and JP had facilitated replacing the decking on our swim dock and gangway, our two faithful friends headed home late Sunday morning. Wendy, meanwhile, made her way to the lake. She stopped in Osage for supplies and then joined me on a gorgeous Sunday evening. We celebrated our reunion by heading to Captain Ron’s for pizza, and to watch the Cubs.

Boat cleaned up and purring a long.
Boat cleaned up and purring a long.

The weather forecast for the week made it clear that Monday was the only day we would get by without rain. After taking care of a few work related responsibilities, we proceeded to make the most of a good day to work on the Playhouse. First Boat Ride of SummerI mowed and trimmed the lawn, then proceeded to power wash the entire exterior of the house and windows, the entire deck (top and bottom) the lower patio, the sidewalk to the dock, and the entire dock. I also cleaned up the boat and the Waverunner.
Wendy, meanwhile, busied herself giving the interior of the house a more thorough cleaning than it’s perhaps ever had. By the end of the day we were really tired, but we still made a point of jumping in the boat in our grubby clothes for our first boat ride of the summer together.

Playhouse Rain
Rain was a common sight this week.

The rest of the week was, indeed, rainy. We certainly had periods of sun, but every day was punctuated by showers. In many cases, we got some pretty strong thunder showers. At one point we lost power for a couple of hours.

We continued to work remotely each day, but then took the opportunity to continue cleaning and organizing. I cleaned out the store-room and shed. We checked all of the air beds to make sure they still held their air (2 of 3 did). We went through boxes and tubs and did a general purging of things we no longer wanted or needed. We also made our annual seasonal run to Walmart to stock up on supplies for the summer. It felt really good!

Playhouse Puzzle

With the rain dampening our opportunities to get on the water a lot, we worked on a jigsaw puzzle and listened to the Cubs each afternoon/evening. On Wednesday evening we were surprised with a visit from old friends. Jim and Judy Halvorsen were parents of two wonderful friends from my high school youth group days back in the early 1980s. They happened to be nearby visiting Judy’s mother and made contact with me on Facebook. Wendy and I invited them over for burgers on the grill and we enjoyed a really nice evening of conversation on the deck. It was so good to catch up.

On Thursday morning we treated ourselves to a huge breakfast at ChancesR, a local greasy spoon. That afternoon we had a window of glorious sunshine and made the most of it. We jumped in the boat and enjoyed a leisurely ride to a quiet cove. We anchored and then read in the sun, enjoying the cool breeze and a cold beverage while getting our first sunburn of the season.

Tom Wendy Fun in the Sun

We were glad we got out in the sun. Very heavy rain descended late in the afternoon and continued all evening. On Friday morning we picked up, cleaned up and were on the road for home by noon. Our lawn at home had become a jungle in the 10 days I’d been away, and my first duty upon arriving back at VW Manor was to break the mower out. Afterward we cleaned up and headed to Mat and Anne’s for drinks and dessert. Keven McQ joined in the festivities and we enjoyed conversation late into the evening.

Congratulations Emma!
Congratulations Emma!

Yesterday was a busy day in Des Moines. Wendy made five cheesecake’s for our niece, Emma’s, graduation party. We headed into town about 9:00 a.m. and dropped the cheesecakes off with Lydia and Sam, who would then transport them to the event. Wendy and I then ran (too many, for my liking) errands. By 2:00 we were in Adel at Emma’s party.

It was great to celebrate Emma’s graduation. She’s the last of the nieces and nephews on the Vander Well side to graduate from high school. My folks were at the open house and we got to chat about what it was like to watch all your grandkids graduate. So fun to share with them in that blessing. Taylor joined us later in the party and we got to catch up briefly.

Taylor is headed back to Scotland in a month to go through her own graduation ceremony for her master’s program. She plans to work at Edinburgh’s Fringe Festival in August, and is applying for a job there.  We’re excited that she has an opportunity to go back to Scotland, perhaps long-term, but not excited about the prospect of not seeing her again for a long time.

Our friends Kev and Beck enjoyed a weekend visit from Becky’s sister, Joy, and Joy’s boyfriend, Eddie. We met them at Emma’s graduation party. While Kev and Beck went on to two other parties, Wendy and I played host to Joy and Eddie back at Kev and Beck’s house. We spent the evening on Kev and Beck’s deck. Kev smoked some ribs for a scrumptious dinner, and we really enjoyed getting to know Joy and Eddie. It was very late by the time Wendy and I made it back to Pella last night.

Coffee VW Manor W Life is Good

Today marks the first full day I’ve spent in Pella in almost two weeks. A gorgeous Sunday began on the front porch with a cup of hot coffee watching the “W” flag wafting in the breeze and enjoying the peaceful quiet of Utrecht Laan.

The Latest 05-01-2016

This past week was a bit of a return to normal after the long slog of production on Almost, Maine and then a long week on the road. I feel like I’m still trying to catch up on rest. Unfortunately, this week wasn’t much help as we ramped up to celebrate my 50th birthday.

The early part of the week was focused on getting caught up on work in the home office. Mom Hall came down to Pella on Monday to help us get ground cover on the flower bed (currently a weed bed) in the front of the house. I’ve had to mow a couple of times this week. Our new lawn (planted last fall) is still patchy. I’m not very good with green things. I’ve had a “brown thumb” my whole life. Almost every time I’ve tried to grow botanical things they die. So, I’m trying to do right by the lawn and do it right.  I can tell you that mowing a half-acre lot with my trust Lawn-Boy push mower takes a little more time and effort than our old postage stamp lawn on Columbus.

Me and a baby goat.
Me and a baby goat.

Mid-week I had to make a quick turnaround trip to northwest Iowa for business. My co-worker, Nick, is from that neck of the woods and I got treated to some local hospitality with a trip to the farm for steak dinner. I even got to meet the baby goats and the chickens in the barn. I also got a quick visit with friends Trav and Julie Else. It’s been so fun to reconnect with them since the old days at Westview when I played on Julie’s worship team and we were in “Supper Club” together.

The biggest focus of the week was my 50th birthday on Saturday. We actually started celebrating on Friday afternoon. I had a Board Meeting for work mid-day, then knocked off and we joined up with Kev and Beck. Becky’s birthday was Friday the 29th, and Kevin’s birthday had just been on April 17th. The past few year’s we’ve made a tradition out of celebrating all three birthdays together. The girls went for pedicures and to do some shopping. Kevin and I met at Casa Roose to watch the Cubs and enjoy a few birthday stogies on the patio.

The girls returned and the four of us headed to downtown Des Moines for drinks and dinner at Malo. It was an enjoyable time as we exchanged cards and gifts and consumed the scrumptious latin edibles. After dinner we stopped by the Plaza Pub to visit with some old friends of Kev and Beck. We capped off our birthday celebration at Casa Roose with a nightcap. It was the wee hours when Wendy and I returned home and got to bed.

Weather certainly did not cooperate with our birthday plans. The entire midwest was socked with perpetual rain and chilly temperatures. For my 50th Wendy had planned a baseball themed party for a handful of our good friends. The plan was to party here at Vander Well Pub while we watched the Chicago Cubs playing an afternoon game against the Braves. Those who wanted to join us would then head to Des Moines for the Iowa Cubs game against the Colorado Springs Skysox. The blanket of rain across the upper midwest resulted in both games being postponed.

The party commenced as scheduled. We put on the recording of Jake Arrieta throwing a no-hitter last week. Wendy did an amazing job with the baseball themed party. We had hot dogs, peanuts, cracker jack, snack pizza, and chips with salsa. Then there were the cupcakes she made to look like baseballs and a sundae bar. We ate  way too much!

We had specified “no gifts” but it was generally ignored. Let’s just say that the bar at Vander Well pub is better stocked than it had been before the party. The Parkers and Vande Lunes also went together on a framed poster of Shakespearean insults. It was perfect and will have an honored spot among the decor (which we still haven’t hung). I felt both blessed and honored by all of the cards and wishes I received in the mail and on social media. It was a good day.

Capping my birthday with friends at Kaldera.
Capping my birthday with friends at Kaldera.

By the time everyone left we had just enough time to get things cleaned up before our dinner reservations. Instead of the I-Cubs game, we gathered for dinner at Kaldera with the Burches, VLs and McQs. It wasn’t what we had planned, but it was wonderful to enjoy a laid back dinner with friends and get home at a decent time. We had a brief night cap at McQuade Pub before calling it a night.

From Madison's Facebook post wishing me a happy 50th

We are looking forward to having both Taylor and Madison home next weekend for Tulip Time. I heard from both girls yesterday as they called with birthday wishes. Taylor had a very nice post on her blog honoring my big day and Madison added an equally honoring post on Facebook. I missed having them here with me, but will enjoy a belated celebration next week.

Tulip Time is Thu-Sat of this coming week. The cold, rainy weather has ensured that we’ll have a few tulip left for Pella’s annual festival. The weather forecast is sunny and 75 degrees each day, and it will be perfect weather for the celebration. Wendy and I are, once again, playing Pella’s founding couple. We’ll be Dominie H.P. and Mareah Scholte and will be found at the Scholte House museum late morning and early afternoon. We’ll be riding our horse drawn carriage in each of the six parades. It should be a fun time. Come see us if you’re in town!

Flood Waters Rising at Lake of the Ozarks

In the 20+ years we’ve been coming down to the Lake of the Ozarks, we’ve never seen the water as high as it has risen in the past two days. Torrential rains pushed the water over the gangway to our dock in the middle of the night. More rain is expected the next few days. They opened the flood gates at Bagnall Dam yesterday morning, but obviously the waters are rising fast than they can let it out. Here are some photos I took this morning along Ambrosia Lane on Buccaneer Bay at the 34.5 mile marker.

Rain Gives Way to Sun

source: fulinhyu via Flickr
source: fulinhyu via Flickr

If clouds are full of water,
    they pour rain on the earth.

Light is sweet,
    and it pleases the eyes to see the sun.
Ecclesiastes 11:3a, 7 (NIV)

The weather over the past two weeks, and the forecast going into next week, have been picture perfect here in Iowa. After a long stretch of what seemed to be endless rain, the rain has departed and given way to sunshine. It has, indeed, pleased these eyes to see them and my entire spirit feels a bit of a lift.

I’ve mentioned in previous posts that life has been full of transition for the VWs. Both Taylor and Madison have launched on new stretches of their own respective paths, and have been experiencing both the anxieties and thrills that a new road can bring. Suzanna has transitioned from full-time student to full-time work as she runs between three part-time jobs. Wendy and I, of course, are transitioning from one house to another along with other shifts in life.

As I read through Ecclesiastes, I have been received a much needed reminder of life’s big picture. Rain eventually gives way to sunshine. There will be dark times along the way, but light is sweet when eucatastrophe breaks through the darkness. Life has been filled with the anxiety and uncertainty of transitions, but like the rain clouds departing it will eventually give way to more peaceful, stable places.

Our jobs are to keep pressing on.

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ArtFest Weekend

Enjoyed art, dinner, and wine with these good ...
Enjoyed art, dinner, and wine with these good friends tonight! via tomvwell

It has been raining A LOT around here of late. Wendy emptied our rain gauge yesterday which had 5 1/2 inches of water in it. There’s a couple of more inches in it this morning. Ugh.

 

Rain put kind of a damper on the Des Moines Art Festival this weekend. Wendy and I usually find ourselves at the lake on the DMAF weekend, so we were kind of excited to be in town for it until the rains threatened to ruin the afternoon. We arrived in Des Moines Saturday morning and met Taylor at Gateway Market for lunch. She was on her way to volunteer at one of the beer tents for the afternoon.

We ran a few errands and met Kev and Beck at their house. By the time we were ready to head downtown the rain was imminent, so we chose to go to “The Other Art Show” at the Iowa State Fairgrounds. It’s inside the Varied Industries Building, so we figured we could enjoy the art without getting wet. It was a good choice.

We spent a couple of hours wandering the art show. Here are a few of our favorite artists from the show. There could be so many more, but this is a diverse list among our favs:

It was pouring rain by the time we were ready to go. We headed to P.F. Chang’s for dinner and made a stop at Vintage Wine & Spirits for an after dinner glass of wine and a cigar on the patio. We ended up back at Kev and Beck’s for a night cap before heading back to Pella.

Suzanna was up and ready to talk when we got home, so late night conversation in the kitchen ensued until way too late.

Yesterday morning I delivered the morning message on in the auditorium services at Third Church. It went really well. Message should be on the Third website by mid-week. I’ll post a link when it is. We returned home to work and prepare for our departure to the lake for a few weeks.

 

 

 

Rain or Shine, It’s How We Respond

English: Rainbow near Hay Head Wood Nature Res...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Those who sow with tears
    will reap with songs of joy.
Psalm 126:5 (NIV)

I am reminded this morning that Jesus said the sun shines on both the good and evil, and that rain falls on both the righteous and unrighteous. No matter what path we take or where we find ourselves in our life journey upon this earth, there will be good times and there will be bad times for every one of us. I have learned along the way that the real question is not what happens to us, for we all will have our personal share of both pleasures and pain. The real question is how we respond and what we choose to do with both our blessings and our tragedies.

I want the innumerable blessings that shine on my life to create in me a trinity of tangible responses:

  • Gratitude: I wasn’t entitled to the blessing, I need to be thankful.
  • Grace: I have been shown favor I don’t deserve, I need to show favor to others.
  • Generosity: I have been given much, I need to give much away.

I want the tragedies that I experience, both great and small, to cause me to respond with:

  • Patience: Even Noah discovered that rain eventually gives way to sunshine, but I need to let patience grow in me during rainy days.
  • Perseverance: When I doggedly press on through the storm, I find maturity, wisdom, and character developing in me.
  • Purpose: It may be cliché, but dark clouds do have silver linings. I need to seek God’s purpose for me in the pain.

I have observed along the journey that when I respond appropriately to the circumstances I find myself in, laughter gives way to deeper understanding, and tears give way to joy.

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Decompression

2013 08 03 McQuades Playhouse Collage

Wendy and I enjoyed our weekend at the lake with our friends Kevin and Linda. We enjoyed a very quiet couple of days. It was a godsend for all of us, I believe. Wendy and I were straining a bit under the weight of late. As Kevin messaged me on Facebook yesterday, it was a weekend of “decompression” for all of us. There was a whole lot of nothing going on for a good part of the time, which was absolutely the point. The only excitement of the weekend came on Friday night after a pleasant dinner at Fish & Company. We had to make a fun sprint home in the boat to avoid a rapidly advancing and ominous looking thunderstorm. Glad to say we timed it perfectly. Right as we pulled into the safety of the dock the rain started to pour down.

On Saturday afternoon I was reading and dozing on the couch when I looked out on the dock to see Kevin and Linda sitting on the dock reading and doing crossword puzzles. A few minutes later they were gone and I knew exactly what had happened. They’d experienced the healthy meltdown that happens to everyone at the Playhouse. Sure enough, they’d come in for a nap. I smiled as I shut my eyes and drifted off to the sounds of Pat Hughes giving me the play-by-play of a Cubs’ loss (again).

Our evenings were equally relaxing. Sitting out on the deck under the light of the tiki torches enjoying good food, good drink, good cigars, and great conversation until the wee hours.

It doesn’t get much better than that.

Times of Rain; Times of Drought

usfws via Flickr
usfws via Flickr

Despair, all you farmers!
    Wail, all you vine growers!
Weep, because the wheat and barley—
    all the crops of the field—are ruined.
Joel 1:11 (NLT)

Yesterday Wendy and I had meetings in Des Moines and found ourselves driving the familiar stretch of highway 163 from Pella. The road winds through some of the most beautiful and fertile farm land I’ve ever seen. My weekly, sometimes daily, trips to Des Moines are an on-going word picture of changing seasons and the state of the fields which feed the world.

It has been wet here in Iowa. On Monday we had 2.5 inches of rain in 24 hours. That came after a wet weekend. As I looked out over the fields of green on the way to Des Moines I was reminded that 20 years ago this summer we experienced a similar rainy summer. The floods of 1993 left the City of Des Moines without fresh water for 10 days. This summer doesn’t come close to that, but it is certainly reminiscent of the same wet weather patterns. We then remembered and talked about the serious drought we experienced just one year ago which now seems such a departure of our present meteorological reality.

In today’s chapter, the prophet Joel calls people to lament and pray about a serious drought and locust plague that threatens the food source and lives of an entire nation. To be sure, the effects of extreme weather in Joel’s day would have far more disastrous implications for the people of that region than what we experience in our land of plenty. Still, I am reminded today of the constancy of nature’s impact on our lives and livelihoods. It’s another case of “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” It’s a great word picture. In this life journey we all experience the ebb and flow of floods and drought. We all live through seasons of plenty and of loss.

Today I am reminded to keep the faith, and to keep pressing on. You never know what next summer will bring.

FLOOD

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Last summer while Wendy and I spent a lot of time in Missouri completing our work on the Playhouse, we returned to Pella to find that we’d had significant amount of water in our basement. It had never happened before and we were perplexed at how that much water could have come in.

Now we know.

Last night two large storms rolled through dumping a significant amount of water on our already soaked ground. I slept through the first storm, but was wide awake when the second storm hit before 5 a.m. with hail, wind and torrential rain.

Our backyard had become a lake and Wendy was downstairs checking on the basement when the lake began pouring in through a window well along the back wall. It was a scramble to get everything out of our cellar. More water trickled in around some of the other walls and came up through the floor.

[sigh]

As the saying goes: “When it rains, it pours.”