Friday, May 11, 2012

One Year Later.

Can't believe it's been a year.  Then again, yes, I can.  I have missed her at every single family event, I have picked up the phone to call her more times than I can count, in good times and in bad.

She was one of my "Top 5".  I can't rank those people, but I know exactly who they are.  You know, those people who are with you to celebrate your highest moments, who will also stand tall beside you and maybe even stand behind you, pushing, when things get really tough.

On May 12th, 2011, my Aunt Lynne went to be with our maker, only a few months after being diagnosed with cancer.  She fought as hard as she possibly could, but the cancer was so aggressive and complications ensued. And that was it. She was gone.

I knew when I got the call that I should go to my native Maryland to see her that things were touch and go.  I was expecting when I traveled out to see her and with it being such a high-risk pregnancy, I knew that I probably wouldn't be able to attend the funeral.  I was fortunate that we both had a window of health that allowed us to have a wonderful visit.

That was the last time I saw her.  My window of safe traveling conditions passed and I was heartbroken to lose her and heartbroken that I couldn't be with my family to say goodbye. 

Our baby boy arrived the next month and by some great miracle, and I believe, with Aunt Lynne and so many other loved ones watching over us from heaven, he was healthy.

When my little family traveled east at Christmastime, I stood at her grave.  I stared at that stone. Numb. I knew she wasn't there, but still I felt no closure. It took me this long to come to terms with things. They say time heals all wounds, but that isn't what has gotten me through the times when I sat staring at the phone, wishing for one last conversation or opened our holiday decorations only to find they were mostly gifts from her and I broke down and cried, alone in the garage.  I say that on His time, God heals all wounds.  A good friend once told me to find a way to praise God in even the most difficult circumstances.

So here I am, doing my best to follow the instructions in 1 Thessalonians 5:16, "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

God was so good to give us Aunt Lynne for every last minute we had her on this earth.

So many people have said such beautiful things about Aunt Lynne and I am grateful that they have shared their memories and encouragement with me, but today, in honor of the first anniversary of her passing and in celebration of Mother's Day, here is my personal message to Aunt Lynne and all who loved her.

Among the many hearts she was a piece of,  Aunt Lynne was a devoted wife, mother...


...sister in law, aunt...

...niece and friend...

She was such an enthusiastic friend.  The kind of friend that you knew would go down swinging for you.  The kind of friend who always had your back.  She was SO funny.  She would have you laughing at her funny stories before she was even finished because she would be giggling so hard herself.  The ring of her laughter was contagious.  It's one of the things I miss the most about her.  She was my informant on anything that had to do with politics or current events.  She was unapologetically conservative. I loved that too.  She had a knack for technology and gadgets and I can remember he saying so many times, "You have got to see [such and such]! It is AWESOME!"

She shared humor constantly, whether it was of her own doing, or something she found along life's journey.  At the time of her passing, I bet she was half-finished at least a half-dozen home improvement projects and I'm sure was plotting more.  It was a constant state of chaos around her house, but I loved it.  There was this energy she brought into a room.
It was almost palpable. 

If it weren't for Aunt Lynne and her efforts to research and record our ancestry, I would not know who these two people are....

My Great-great-grandfather, August Bedgar, 1857-1945
My Great-great-grandmother, Anna Henrietta Marburger Bedgar, 1868-1940.

Aunt Lynne loved simple things, like Crocs...
...and sweatshirts.  She and I had our "tomboyish" nature in common.

I am grateful that God chose Uncle Jutzy for her.  He is such a wise and kind man.  They were such a great fit and balance for each other, it was almost cliche'.  We all have so many great memories together.  From renting a motorhome, piling in 5 adults and 1.4 children (I was pregnant) and driving all the way across North Dakota and most of South Dakota, to birthdays, graduations and many holiday gatherings at their home.

Aunt Lynne gave THE BEST gifts.  The book, "The Five Love Languages" by Gary Chapman details the different ways people express and understand love. There is no question that Aunt Lynne's love language was "gifts".  She showed she cared by searching far and wide for the PERFECT gifts.  For Christmases, she sent to our home gifts that were always met with an unmatched level of excitement, from vintage toys to adorable clothes... the funniest gag gifts :)  Her gifts are treasures and they're scattered in every room in our home and in every tub of every size of baby/kid clothes. If it weren't for Aunt Lynne, our Christmas tree would be almost bare.

In her travels to England, she got hooked on Christmas crackers, and because of her, they became a tradition in our family.
It just isn't a Bedgar family Christmas without those goofy paper hats! :)
Aunt Lynne was a passionate and tireless advocate for youth organizations like 4-H, and for military families. She claimed to be retired, but I think she may have been busier in "retirement" than she ever was. I was so proud of her for re-inventing herself and her career later in life. I hope that after my children are grown, I can do the same. 

We had a common bond in our love for animals and agriculture. 
 Of course, we had to stop and visit "Salem Sue" in New Salem, ND.

She could be tough as nails and could work just as hard as any man I know.

When I took a job in North Dakota, she was one of the first family members that came to visit me.  She was so impressed with North Dakota and kept saying "I can't believe you get off the highway and you're right on a gravel road!"

During her first visit to ND, she and I took a road trip to Medora, ND.  We spent about 10 hours in the car together that weekend.  We talked, we laughed (A LOT), we cried, we even sang together to some old country favorites.

She could sing like an angel.
She and my Aunt and cousin even made my wedding cake!

Somehow, they got it there in one piece! I don't know who drove it to the reception, but if it was Aunt Lynne, that cake had one wild ride :)

Aunt Lynne loved Jeremy and I and she loved our children, without conditions, but I think she took a little extra pride in our youngest daughter having red hair like hers :)

Aunt Lynne and Cousin Meghan even took the girls to the National Aquarium while I was on a business trip in Europe. Very brave of them :)  See that lollipop residue on C.W's smiling face? Yep, Aunt Lynne also had a knack for finding the coolest, most unique treats :)  And her homemade macaroni bake? It was AWESOME :) 

 The girls still talk about their trip to the aquarium and to this day, my oldest daughter sleeps every night with the stuffed shark Aunt Lynne got for her.  She left a wonderful, fun-loving, loyal, lasting impression on my girls, just as she did on me.

Although I will miss her until we meet again and I wish she could have met our son, it is in those ridiculous moments of parenting, when you can either cry or you can laugh, that I know she is laughing with me.

In Loving Memory of Lynne Norris, 11/20/48-5/12/11

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Storm Clouds Have a Silver Lining During Corn Planting

Last week, Jeremy was busy planting corn (see video at the link below).  Jeremy and our assistant farm manager, Ben, built this planter.  It is quite the engineering marvel to me and is a unique combination of parts from the White company, John Deere, and Case IH. So far, they're pleased with its performance.  It is being pulled with our New Holland 9882 Tractor ("Big Blue") and is followed by the Case IH "air cart", which during corn planting, holds fertilizer.  The lines of boxes (16, one for each of 16 rows of corn) hold the seeds and then they are dropped individually into a slice in the soil made by the "openers", meanwhile tiny granules of fertilizer are blown by air pressure through tubes from the air cart and are dropped next to the seeds.  Using GPS and variable rate seeding technology (all a part of "precision agriculture technology") we can plant with accuracy to the fraction of an inch and match soil health and fertility to application of seed and fertilizer, making this a highly efficient process that also protects the environment.

Tractor, followed by corn planter, followed by air cart.

My assistant, the Little Boy on the Prairie. With our busy farming lives, he has gotten very good at eating baby food while I am wedged into his sister's booster seat :)
Then a storm rolled in across the prairie...

 It got darker...

And darker...

And then Ben went cruising by to the next field with the "Magnum" tractor and the "Joker" to go fix some ruts left over from last year's wet weather muddy mess before Jeremy got there to plant corn.

There he is, a tiny dot in the lower right hand corner, while the storm got even closer...

At this link, you can see a video of the storm from a distance, with the peanut gallery giggling in the background :)

That night the storm shut down our corn planting operation, but every cloud has a silver lining and sometimes those rainy days are blessings in disguise because Jeremy got to drop C.W. off at pre-school the next day...

"...He covers the sky with clouds; he supplies the earth with rain
and makes grass grow on the hills..." Psalm 147.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Creeds I Live By

Today is Wednesday and many of my friends and colleagues will be blogging with "Wordless Wednesday" posts, but I'm going in totally different direction here today, and posting about words that are important to me.

There are two creeds that sum up my entire existence. The first explains my entire existence, and in my heart and mind, the second is simply an extension of the principles that are laid out in the first. I hope you enjoy reading both, and I hope you are encouraged and inspired as much as I am when you read them.

The first is The Apostles' Creed: (Source: According to a recent article in the American Family Association Journal, it is "the oldest statement of faith outside the New Testament" and "in its earliest form, the creed dates back to about A.D. 125..." Today we recite what I would call an "updated" version of this in my church, which includes changes like "catholic" being replaced with "christian", and "quick" being replaced with "living".  I understand the reasons for the changes, but personally I prefer the "old school" version I learned in my little country church as a child, because it is forever engrained in my memory as it is written below and my tongue still stumbles over the changes on occasion.  When I recite it as follows, I can still feel my Grandparents standing next to me in their Sunday best, my hands resting on the wooden pew in front of me and the kind voice of Reverend Wilbur Taylor leading our congregation in it's recitation.

"I believe in God, the Father Almighty, the Maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord: Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried, The third day He arose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. I beleve in the Holy Ghost; the holy catholic church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. Amen."

The second is the FFA Creed (Source:  According to the National FFA Organization (formerly known as the Future Farmers of America), which I joined in the 7th grade, "The FFA creed was written by E. M. Tiffany, and adopted at the 3rd National Convention of the FFA. It was revised at the 38th Convention and the 63rd Convention."  I think it is as true today as it ever was.

"I believe in the future of agriculture, with a faith born not of words but of deeds - achievements won by the present and past generations of agriculturists; in the promise of better days through better ways, even as the better things we now enjoy have come to us from the struggles of former years.
I believe that to live and work on a good farm, or to be engaged in other agricultural pursuits, is pleasant as well as challenging; for I know the joys and discomforts of agricultural life and hold an inborn fondness for those associations which, even in hours of discouragement, I cannot deny.
I believe in leadership from ourselves and respect from others. I believe in my own ability to work efficiently and think clearly, with such knowledge and skill as I can secure, and in the ability of progressive agriculturists to serve our own and the public interest in producing and marketing the product of our toil.
I believe in less dependence on begging and more power in bargaining; in the life abundant and enough honest wealth to help make it so--for others as well as myself; in less need for charity and more of it when needed; in being happy myself and playing square with those whose happiness depends upon me.
I believe that American agriculture can and will hold true to the best traditions of our national life and that I can exert an influence in my home and community which will stand solid for my part in that inspiring task."

It is my hope that as my children are growing and beginning to understand the importance of the written and spoken word and how words can reflect our faith and the values that are the foundation for our farm, that they too will hold these creeds in their hearts as well and recite them with conviction and dignity.

What words do YOU and your family live by?