Thanksgiving Reflection from a Farmer’s Wife

November 26, 2010 | 10 comments

Some people say, “Never look back.”

But as I drift downstream, meandering water-currents of life, every once in a while I get the urge to turn my canoe around. Because I like to see where I’ve been, to remember what waters we’ve passed through.

With a hindsight view, I can often see His faithfulness most vividly.

I’m reposting from the archives today, retracing words written here exactly one year ago today.


It’s Thanksgiving Day. Corn still stands in fields. My favorite farmer hopes to glean the rest by December, before the snow flies.

And when fear rises in me, I’m reminded:

I’m not the first Lee woman to look through the kitchen window to watch a Lee man working acres late in the season. I’m not the first Lee woman to quietly remind her children, as she tucks them in, to pray for their Daddy. I’m not the first Lee woman to link hands with her favorite farmer at this wooden table, to offer praise and Thanksgiving for the bounty.

The harvest has always come.


These are the women who’ve come before: Emma, Eunice and Joyce.

I’m the newest to be grafted in by marriage. Each of us had our favorite farmers who worked this same dirt: Ole and Milo, Paul and Scott.

Today, only Scott is left. Looking out the windows on these partially shorn acres, I wonder: “Who will tend these fields when we’re gone?”

I dial Eunice, 95. She answers after the fifth ring. She lives in an assisted-living apartment now. Her husband Milo died four years ago, and last week, he would have turned 100 years old. She celebrated with fresh flowers on the altar.

Milo was the second of the Lee men who turned this Earth, unearthed its bounty.

I ask Eunice, Could we drive up to visit on Friday morning? Then, the conversation immediately turns to weather and crops. For this is what farm wives do.

“How’s Scott doing?” she asks of her grandson. He’s the patriarch of this farm now, and this is his first harvest without his father, Paul, who died in January.

“Fine, Grandma, but we’ve got a lot of acres to go,” I tell her. “Gotta get it out before it snows.”

“I know how you feel,” she says, and as she speaks the fear in me dissolves again. “Now, we always wanted to get all the corn out by Thanksgiving, but you don’t worry. It will all work out. Always does.”

I cling to a voice of reassurance that comes from a Lee woman who watched her own favorite farmer bring in the crop for decades.

The harvest has always come.


Solace flows from voices past. I find another voice in the bottom of a dresser drawer.

Her words were on a postcard, written on Nov. 26, 1912 — exactly 97 years ago today.

The voice belongs to Emma, our pioneer. She knew first what I feel now. She was an American girl who fell in love with Ole, a young man who’d come to Iowa from Norway looking for work. He settled on this farm more than 100 years ago. And together, they raised kids and crops and eyes toward Home.

We found her words last month in a drawer. They were written on the back of a Thanksgiving postcard.

I hold in my hands these words written 97 harvests ago, and a lump rises in my throat again. Emma knew what it meant to feel this swelling in a heart for a Lee man who scrapes back Earth to scatter the seed.

Emma wrote:

“Nov. 26, 1912
how are you
We are all well
have about 3 days corn picking left.
… got much corn this year
Baby is a big girl now
Thanksgiving we are going to Le Hemmes for dinner.
— Emma”

Ole was Emma’s favorite farmer.
Milo was Eunice’s favorite farmer.
Paul was Joyce’s favorite farmer.
And Scott is mine.

They’ve combed through lazy Earth, scattered seed and waited on the Lord, while a Lee woman watched through a kitchen window.

God and Earth are our constants in this changing of the guard from
to farmer
to farmer
to farmer.

God is our hope that springs eternal here on these acres. It’s out here, where our farmers feel closest to God, while they paint brush strokes on God’s earthen canvas. And we feel it, too, like we’re brushing up against Heaven.

And for this, we bow low with thanks on this day of Thanksgiving and Praise.

For the harvest has always come.

PHOTOS: Front and back of Emma Lee’s Thanksgiving postcard, written 98 years ago today.

by | November 26, 2010 | 10 comments


  1. Andrea

    AMEN, sweet friend! Thank you for this beautiful post!
    Hugs, andrea

  2. HisFireFly

    Not sure why.. but tears are flowing. The beautiful simplicity of your words, the love you have for each other and the land and the One Who created all!

  3. Linda

    Just to say I love this Jennifer. It resonates deep within.

  4. David Rupert

    I wish I was a farmer so I could have a farmer's wife!

  5. Dawn

    I don't know farmers who plant crops in real life. But I will never eat corn again without thinking of America's bread basket because you put a face and a name and a family tradition to it all for me.

    For this I thank you.

    And for your visit to my blog last week with an extremely gracious comment.

  6. Megan Willome

    I love this! And isn't there something sweet about the the harvest that almost didn't come in?
    My dad went to the farm this week, where no more Drummond men are left to farm (just a steward). In 68 years, my grandfather only had 4 good cotton crops. This year's beat all of them–double! My dad and his last brother went to celebrate the crop.

  7. Melissa Campbell

    I felt God on these words, and the tears are flowing. And like HisFireFly, I am wondering why.

    But as I write, I think about how I woke this morning with the word, HONOR, going through my spirit. And I had the thought that I would seek the Lord and His word about it later. Then I forgot.

    But HONOR is exactly what you just did with this beautiful post. And the fact that you wrote it a year ago, and I just read it now, on the day the Lord wanted to talk to me about it, makes me totally undone. So I cry all the more.

    Thank you, friend, for being His voice. Many blessings to you and your farmer and the harvest you bring. Surely God is with you always.


    Hey Jennifer- This is so cool to see the lifeline to the family ancestors, all pulling the same chord. There is something about that continuity – knowing where you come from, where you belong.

    The harvest will come. That is so reassuring.

  9. Beth E.

    What a legacy that has been left by Scott's family. Now you and Scott are preparing a legacy for your children. Not just any legacy, though. You are preparing a kingdom legacy!

    I heard a pastor on TV last Sunday, preaching about leaving a kingdom legacy. He said, "You've got to learn it so you can live it; you've got to live it so you can leave it."

    You know it…you live it…your children are growing into it. 🙂


  10. deb

    how remarkable.
    I can't even imagine being a part of something so sacred .


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