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Storyteller. Grace Dweller.

I’m Jennifer — wife of an Iowa farmer, mom to two girls, new book author. I believe in you, because I believe in Jesus. You matter to Him, and you matter to me. more »

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Tuesday 26th September 2017

The More Things Change (An Autumn Reflection)

Just a little story for you today. It’s a reflection about fall, and mothering, and how in this world of change, we hold tight to a few treasured things that, thankfully, remain the same.

The More Things Change
a story by Jennifer Dukes Lee

I see it all with startling clarity, right before the last bit of daylight slips under those yellowing fields, all swaying like a lion’s mane.

I stand still, with my arms crossed, a fair distance away, watching my two daughters and a dozen other 4-H children out by the fence at a neighbor’s farm. The whole glad scene unfolds in silhouette against the sinking sun.

That’s when I see the truth of it: time has a way of folding over on itself.

Suddenly, I am the little girl, wearing a blue-plaid shirt with pearly buttons ringed in silver. I’m the brunette bending down to pick up pumpkins, helping fill the back of a pickup truck with bright-orange orbs, hoping I’m stacking things up right, but not quite sure, because I’m self-conscious and awkward.

 

And there I am again, over by the pines. My head tips back with laughter at a joke that my mother (hopefully) can’t hear, and someone scolds me a few embarrassing seconds before I touch the electric fence. Then, I’m wrapping my arms around my whole self as the autumn breeze wriggles through the trees, catching my still-tanned limbs by surprise.

And later, when the monthly 4-H meeting begins on the front porch of the farmhouse, my sister sits on the step next to me; we argue over who has more room. One sister calls the other a “dummy.” And just then, a boy—still getting used to his deepening voice—calls the meeting to order with the help of a gavel.

A hush falls over the porch. We stand to recite the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag, and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, under God.

I’m just a kid, pledging it all to that tiny little flag, flapping on a wooden stick in the breeze, feeling my young heart beat under my palm. I feel like so much of my life is ahead of me. And I’m absolutely right about that.

And then the 4-H leader calls for nominations for president, vice president and secretary. I fidget nervously and smooth down that stubborn cowlick while trying to muster up a shred of courage. I stand up tall in that moment when, at last, she asks if anyone would like to run for the position of 4-H reporter. The winner will be responsible for writing news stories about the meetings for the local weekly.

I am surprised by how much confidence spills out of my mouth when my own voice explains why I should be the club’s reporter for the year.

I didn’t see it the first time around, all those years ago, but my sister—the same sister who called me a dummy on the concrete stair—she’s looking up at me like she’s never been prouder. I don’t think I ever noticed how she patted me on the back after I won the election, even though it was uncontested.

Another thirty years will pass before I remember that one, when my two girls replay the whole scene in front of me.

And I’m 99.9 percent sure that I never, ever saw this. I’m not altogether certain she was even there, because I wasn’t paying attention. I never noticed the woman in the back, my mother. I never saw the way she was sitting with her chin resting on her hand, watching the way a child finds untapped bravery and the way a sister lends quiet support and the way that time creases in layers, until two generations are no longer a span of years, but a stretch of mirrors.

And no one could have seen this: How the same mother gathered it all up, like a long string of memory, like she wanted to double-stick-tape it to the folds of her soul, so she wouldn’t forget that in a world filled with change, some things stay remarkably the same.

#TellHisStory

Hey Tell His Story crew! It is a joy to gather here every week with you. The linkup goes live each Tuesday at 4 p.m. (CT). If you would use the badge on your blog, found here, that would be great! And if you would visit at least one other blogger in the link-up and encourage them with a comment, that would be beautiful! Be sure to check the sidebar later. I’ll be featuring one of you over there!

Our featured writer this week is Lois Flowers. If you’re weary, struggling, or worn down… you’ll find hope in these words from Lois! I especially loved this sentence: “God is still in the business of redemption, my friend, and your life is not exempt from His promises.” Find Lois here.

To be considered as our featured writer, be sure to use our badge or a link to my blog from your post. xo Jennifer


  • What a beautiful story, Jennifer. You’ve made me thankful for my mom and for the role I can play in my kids’ lives as well. <3

  • Jennifer, thank you for sharing that memory. We are all so important in each other’s lives, and we don’t see it (sometimes) until it shows up in the rear view mirror.

  • Kathy Atkins

    I am moved to tears reading this. It’s so true. I am remembering so many things. How I felt inferior as that young girl. And yes, how my mom was always for me. You don’t think of it at the time and now all these years later, she can’t remember too much so I can’t really share this with her. I appreciate that you wanted to write then and are still sharing your gift with us. Blessings.

  • Mary

    Thank you for sharing this story. I can imagine you as a child but also now as a mom looking in the scene that was unfolding. Different perspectives but how wonderful that our memories are sown in the folds of our own children’s memories. I appreciate you friend.

  • JeanneTakenaka

    Jennifer, this story is encouraging. As we wrangle with the early end of the teen years, I forget to look for the ways my boys show courage. I want to be able to look back and see their brave acts and ponder those in my heart. I don’t want to just remember the grapplings for freedom we’ve been walking through recently. 🙂

    Beautiful post!

  • This is so good. Reminds me how life is played out over and over again. Our mothers take care of us and then we take care of our daughters. and so on. And what we never thought of as a child, we see differently as a mother. Including our own mother.

  • Oh, your words, your wonderfully woven words, linking past to present, lending courage to face the unknown in trust and faith. Such a marvelous reflection, Jennifer, and one that absolutely made my day.
    Blessings!

  • Lois Flowers

    This story touches my heart on so many levels, Jennifer. As the mom of two girls who are growing and changing daily, as the daughter of a mom who is declining … it’s a good reminder to notice as much as I can, while I still have the chance! And what a sweet surprise to see my post here today as well … thank you for sharing it. (And there’s even an Iowa connection … the photo of the little chapel was taken just outside Pella.) 🙂

  • Bev @ Walking Well With God

    Jennifer,
    Thank you for a beautiful reminiscence that good memories have a way of repeating themselves. Enjoy this time…as you know it passes all too quickly.
    Blessings,
    Bev xx

  • Nancy Ruegg

    What a delightful God-incidence to see a familiar scene from years ago repeated before your eyes with your own girls. I love the way parental pride and sister-support has flowed through the generations of your family. Some day you may see it repeated again–as the grandmother!

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  • What a great flood that came upon you. It’s wild when we see things like this, they wake us up to new life. God is always working even when we can’t see it and in that I find comfort. I love the picture too. We are fixing to go to an orchard for school tomorrow so I am about to bask in autumness as well. God bless!

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  • Susan

    “And no one could have seen this: How the same mother gathered it all up, like a long string of memory, like she wanted to double-stick-tape it to the folds of her soul, so she wouldn’t forget that in a world filled with change, some things stay remarkably the same.” Now, this just proves, you are a “real” writer. (xo)

  • Such beautiful imagery, Jennifer!

  • Jennifer, this God wink is both enchanting and enouraging! How he loves….to bring to memory long forgotten and unobserved or overlooked moments and wrap the real truth of them around our heart like a hug.

  • Julia Dale

    Jennifer,

    Beautiful to read, like poetry! Thank you for sharing your memory and for wrapping it around your present reality.

  • Amy Jung

    Beautiful as always, Jennifer!

  • What a treasured story for you. The past, present and future weaving together in your mama heart. Lovely!

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  • Julie Loos

    Lovely reflection Jennifer!

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  • Michelle Skillern

    What a lovely story! Sweet memories that you can reflect on are so very precious! My favorite saying when I get to spend anytime with all of our now adult children is “I love making memories with you.”

  • What a lovely story. It is pretty amazing how when we become Mom’s we begin to remember and recognize about our own moms.

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