God-Bumps on an Iowa Morning

December 6, 2011 | 32 comments

I’m parked at the end of our country lane, right by the Lee mailbox and a long row of hay bales, all of them draped in frost. I watch the sun rise right up over our fields, cutting a hole through the fog.  

I’m surprised by the beauty. My two schoolgirls, in the backseat, gasp. I snap frame after frame while we wait for the schoolbus. I’ve learned something about mornings in Iowa: Always have your camera in the passenger seat.

You’d think the newness of an Iowa morning would have worn off by now. Shoot, I’m not even “new” here anymore.  I grew up 100 miles from this spot, where you find me now. I was raised on sweet corn and simple prayers and county fairs and the luxury of wide open spaces. I’m as Iowan as a girl can get.

But for most of my life, I didn’t notice the magical, extravagant beauty of my own homeland. I had twice visited the Rocky Mountains as a child; now THAT was real beauty. I’d heard about other places: Iguacu Falls in South America, the great coral reef off the shore of Australia, the giant sequoias in California. 

I lived in a land that everyone else called “fly-over country.”   

And for a long time, this native Iowan agreed. I was determined to fly right over and outta here.

I’ve long had vision problems — missing the beauty right under my own two feet.

Growing up, I didn’t notice. Never batted an eye when the sun melted like orange sherbert over the fields in my backyard. Never looked twice when the grass sprouted a green, lush carpet under my bare toes. Only now do I remember that an early winter rain could turn our clothesline into a chandelier.

I didn’t notice the beauty of a whole lot of things — like, how death can be breathtaking. Have you ever seen the hopeful allure of a dying farmfield in October? Or the way a dead, wizened oak stands like a grand statue in silhouette, pointing a thousand different directions?

I saw boring, dusty roads that lead to nowhere and back again.

Maybe it takes a change of scenery to remember what you didn’t see the first time around.

I do remember when I told that farm boy that I’d never, ever, ever move back to rural Iowa with him. I remember crossing my arms across my chest, and digging my high-heels into those skyscraper dreams.

I also remember the day I had a change-of-heart; I was sitting on our bathroom floor with my arms cradling a swelling belly of new life. I don’t know who was more surprised when I told the farm boy that we should move back home.

I thought about that again this morning, out here snapping the sort of pictures that give a reborn Iowa girl a case of the God-Bumps.

Right out here, with a camera to my eye, I thought about the truth of the matter: If I look closely, the most beautiful place in the world can be the spot in which I’m standing.


It is an honor to seek after God with you as a part of our new God-Bumps & God-Incidences writing community each Wednesday. Want to join us again this week?  

The “rules” for our community are pretty loose. You are invited to share any life moment — big or small — in which you sense God at work. Together, through this writing project, we are opening our soul-eyes to see the God-incidences unfolding, and the ”God-bumps” growing.

Your story can be a big moment, a God-incidence in which the Lord ordered events in a way that only He could do.

Or it can be a small snippet of life — a word-portrait, a pretty scene that you captured through your camera lens, a Bible verse that jumped fresh off the page, a story about a chance encounter that changed things.

No story is too unimportant. It’s all good. Because it’s all God. 

Grace and peace to you, as you sense Jesus in your midst, my friend …

Add your link below, then include a button (found by clicking here) in your post, so we can find each other.

by | December 6, 2011 | 32 comments


  1. Sheila

    Oooooh, Jennifer, I can see you, supporting that belly swelling with baby and yearning for home.

    Love this. And you.

  2. dukeslee

    And I, you. You bless me, Sheila.

  3. Dea

    I am “flown over” me as well, but you’ll see in my link up that I took a little trip and got some perspective. I know we aren’t from Kansas–but Dorothy was right, “There’s no place like home.”

    Always loved that verse… thanks creating this place. You words wake me up, bless me.

    • dukeslee

      Ooo … I can’t wait to read your piece about your trip, Dea! I’m so glad you linked up today. … I love that verse, too — a reminder that He knows exactly where we’re supposed to be, and when we’re supposed to be there. Sort of takes the pressure off of us. 🙂

  4. Angie Vik

    This post comes by it’s category honestly. I got goose bumps reading about your God-bumps. I think Iowa’s really pretty, but a person has to be taught how to see the beauty. I haven’t seen too many beautiful sunsets since we moved from Iowa.

    • dukeslee

      It’s the sunrises and sunsets that catch my breath most. After a few years of city living — and realizing that I couldn’t see either of those, nor a sky full of stars — I realized that rural Iowa definitely had beauty and charm. I’ll bet you’re in some pretty territory up your way.

  5. Doug Spurling

    Almost makes me want to go back to just north of you and check out my Minnesota homeland, but, not quite – I’ll just enjoy the view through your window and stay warm in the south. Thanks for opening the window to God’s beautiful creation all around us.

    • dukeslee

      I think that Minnesota is the second-most beautiful place in the world, next to Iowa. 😉 … I love Minnesota best from the front of a Lund boat, with my Dad trolling for walleyes. Loons calling out. Eagles overhead in branches. And glassy water that looks like silk. Your Minnesota is a lovely place.

      • Doug Spurling

        Lovely – yes. Cold – TOO. Oh the linky thingy showed up when I came back…

  6. r.ellott

    beautiful picture…and i love the most beautiful place in the world can be the spot in which I am standing…so true…like Ann V says…the remedy is in the retina

  7. Megan Willome

    We had a three-year period of knowing we were moving, but not knowing where. God led us to Fredericksburg, Texas. I remember that when I question His wisdom.

    • Diana Trautwein

      Ooooh, Megan. Somehow I didn’t catch that you live in that charming town that we discovered on our way to Laity in September! We were hunting the LBJ Ranch (and found and thoroughly enjoyed our tour) and drove through the main street. We thought of the Danish town just over the hill from us called Solvang – similar feel. Very cool connection. Again.

  8. Lyla Lindquist

    You well know I’m in one of those surprising places too. The one I never thought to add to the list of places I would never live because, well, who’d have thought it would even come up?

    I have to say though, having stood drenching wet in Iguazu’s spray, it’s tough to beat for terrifying beauty.

  9. Pattylh

    It’s only been the last few years of living here that I appreciate the quiet pastoral beauty of our corner of Iowa. Thank you for the picture your paint with words and also the one you see through the lens.

  10. Shelly Miller

    I have moved eight times in 21 years of marriage and didn’t get your message here in this post until the last two times. I guess I am hard headed, wanting to go back to Egypt and missing the beauty right in front of me. I have learned to see the beauty everywhere I am now and I also keep my camera in the car! I absolutely love the way you write. The orange sherbert sunset and rain turning a clothesline into a chandelier – awesome.

  11. Lori

    Jenn, as usual, your words seized my soul and brought me goose-bumps. It’s so wonderful to cherish the now and appreciate what He has given us!!

  12. Sharon

    Thank you for the opportunity to share my God-bumps, and to enjoy yours and the other linkers. God is everywhere, all the time; we just have to notice Him.

    I’ve learned that God-bumps and God-incidences often catch me off guard, even when I’m looking for them. I have missed plenty of opportunities to capture a moment by not having my camera with me, but it’s much easier now with camera phones that take a decent picture.

    I’m linked twice here because I tried to link the first time from my phone, and I had trouble viewing & navigating the linky form. I thought I could edit it, but it made a second link. Sorry! The second one is the correct one (#22), is there a way for me to delete the first one (#4)?

    • dukeslee

      Hi Sharon! I am so glad you linked. I apologize that you were having trouble linking. If you can, give me some specifics, and I’ll check with the linky administrator to see if we can get the problem fixed. Also, I will take care of the extra link.

      Now … to the first part of your comment here. Agreed! Those God-things just pop up when least expected, and in the most unexpected places. Which is very fitting — seeing how our God showed up in a manger. 🙂

      So happy you joined the party.

  13. Jackie

    Very poetic, Jennifer. I am an Iowa girl too, although now just a visitor. And I love to see the sun rise and set over the wide open fields. It is truly God’s country. Blessings!

  14. Linda

    I love your story Jennifer. Perhaps it is common to most of us – to miss the beauty around us when our hearts are longing to be somewhere else. And perhaps, it is a sort of coming of age to suddenly have eyes to see.
    The picture is exquisite.

  15. emily wierenga

    i love this ‘God bumps’ meme, friend! i love you!

  16. Sandra Heska King

    I love how you’re learning to see–like chandeliered clotheslines and orange sherbert suns. And how even death can be breathtaking. The beauty under my feet and in front of my face. I don’t want to miss it. Thanks for helping me to see it.

    Love. You. Much.

  17. Diana Trautwein

    Oh, so wonderful to read this, Iowa girl. Thank you for each perfect descriptive phrase and for the emotional and spiritual truth behind them. And yes, I always keep my ‘big-girl’ camera in the car. And the little one in my purse. Because somehow, I see the beauty much more clearly when I’m looking through the viewfinder. There’s soul work in a camera. Linked to you when I wrote my connection to your fab meme – but forgot to link up yesterday, so it’s coming in late.

  18. Cheryl Smith

    Loved reading this today and seeing what God is doing through you in the lives of others.

    And that chandelier? I could see it!

  19. laura

    Oh, my goodness. I forgot about Godbumps. Really, it’s amazing I remember anything these days :). I’m going to link up as soon as I get home from work! I’ve tried and tried to do it from my phone but those wee bitty letters and numbers aren’t working for me. Must be God telling me to get back to work :).

    I love this post, and the frosty photo is gorgeous. Isn’t it amazing how beauty can have us climbing over fences and ignoring the cold nipping our noses? And I agree; nothing like a change of scenery to wake up the appreciation for what we’ve come to view as ordinary.

    I love the way you see, Jennifer.

  20. Deborahjoy

    I found your site via Jumping Tandem – I so needed to be reminded of this today. God is everywhere, and yes, those bumps ARE His Spirit, touching me unexpectedly. Thank you for the reminder. Blessings.

  21. Shaunie Friday

    I have long said that sometimes you have to leave a place to know how deep your roots are. Having left Iowa for that profoundly OTHER beauty of the mountains of British Columbia, I can identify with your reasons for leaving, AND with your reasons for going back. Although I’ve never gone back to live in Iowa, and wouldn’t because of how bad my allergies were there, my Iowa roots are still very deep. Love this post so much!!

  22. Joan

    This is a beautiful post, Jennifer! It made me think of the card I received from a friend several years ago. On the front were were words, “Bloom where you’re planted!” The message is so true! We can always be looking for greener pastures, and then miss the beauty all around us.

    Blessings, Joan

    P.S. I just discovered your new link-up! My current post doesn’t exactly fit the bill as it is an analogy not a “God-incident”, but I hope to link up with you soon!

  23. Claresa

    I love this…because I can totally identify with it. I was totally the girl “crossing my arms across my chest, and digging my high-heels into those skyscraper dreams.”

    It’s nice to see I’m not the only one who had a change of heart.

    Iowa seems beautiful. That is a great photo.

  24. S. Etole

    Whoever said beauty was in the eye of the beholder knew a bit of wisdom. A camera by your side is a good way to travel … even to the mailbox.

  25. Connie@raise your eyes

    Farm girls know this–the best pasture is the one under your feet…thank you for sharing the beauty with us!

  26. Jennifer Ferguson

    What a great link-up! I’ll be back on Wednesday to link up a new post!



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