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Last weekend Father Brunkan gave that same knock me over the head message that I was needing to hear at the exact moment that he gave it…

Photo courtesy of Brenda Schmitt at Family Fun Night, Roseville

Father Brunkan told a story of a little boy and his interest in a cocoon that a man had.  The man had told the young boy not to touch or bother the cocoon. As time passed the young boy saw the butterfly inside starting to beat its wings against the inside of the cocoon.  The young boy panicked and did the opposite of his instructions and broke open the cocoon to help the butterfly get out. To his amazement the butterfly didn’t flutter away, instead, it dropped to the ground and died.  The boy was embarrassed and sheepishly returned to the man. The man explained to him that the butterfly NEEDED to struggle and beat its wings against the cocoon to build the strength to survive outside of the cocoon.


The first thing that popped into my head-Parenting!  As parents, there are so many times that we want to just fix things for our kids, especially when they are living in our homes (cocoons).  It is so hard to watch them make bad decisions, big mistakes, and get their hearts broke. It would be SO easy to talk to that coach for them, call that teacher, or chew out that other kid that stomped on their precious heart. BUT, that does not help them build their wings and fly.  As hard as it is to witness sometimes, we have to let our children flap their wings and struggle. If we as parents don’t let them struggle they will never, ever be able to fly on their own.


Then I thought about was myself.  There have been SO many times that I have asked why?  Asked the question about why certain things have happened in my life. Why Crohn's? Why meningitis? Why have I had to lose good people in my life? I guess the why might be to strengthen my wings. Had I not been through all of my health struggles I might not be such an understanding person.  Had I not had meningitis I might have chosen to live my life in a different manner and not be a person that focused on dreaming big and huge. The struggle has gotten me where I needed to be today!


Lastly, I started thinking about our agriculture community. We have been hit hard!  I would venture to guess that most farmers and ranchers would tell you that they don’t feel like a butterfly trying to flap their wings to strengthen them, but they feel like the butterfly that is trying to remove itself from the grill of a Chevy that was driving down a blacktop in rural Iowa.  It’s hard, EVERYONE is asking why. Why so much rain? Why floods? Why the prices? While I don’t know the answer to why I do know that there is no better community to witness coming together than the agriculture community. In hard times and time of loss of life, farmers and ranchers, resemble a roost of monarchs coming together and those farmers will beat their wings just as hard as those monarchs headed south to help a neighbor in need.  I pray that we continue to keep that same courage to keep flapping through this hard season of life, encouraging each other to look ahead and I know buried deep somewhere there is a plan to make us all stronger by beating our wings through it.

What does Father's story make you think about? If you have a favorite story from Father Brunkan I would love to hear it, you can write it in the comments.

From the gravel road-


Jen's Strawberry Rhubarb Banana Cake

This is a delicious spring time recipe that I joke we could have named Everything But The Kitchen Sink cake. It is extremely moist and pairs well with a cup of coffee while sitting outside enjoying the springtime weather!
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Course: Dessert
Keyword: banana, cake, rhubarb, springtime recipes, strawberry
Servings: 18 servings


  • 1 cup Milk
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups brown sugar
  • cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • cups all purpose-flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • cups chopped rhubarb
  • cup chopped strawberries
  • 2 ripe bananas

To drop on to top of cake batter

  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp melted butter


  • cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tbsp milk


  • Preheat oven to 325*
  • Spray a 9X13 pan with cooking spray
  • Combine 1 cup of milk, vanilla, and lemon juice in a glass bowl and let sit for 10 minutes
  • Mix egg, bananas, oil, and 1 ½ brown sugar in a bowl
  • In a separate bowl mix flour, salt, and baking soda
  • Add strawberries to egg/oil mixture and stir
  • Fold dry ingredients in a little at a time, then add
  • Add rhubarb
  • Pour mixture into sprayed cake pan
  • Combine melted butter and 1/2 cup brown sugar, drop spoonfuls onto the top of the cake batter in various locations.
  • Bake cake at 325* for 40 minutes or you can put a toothpick in center of cake and it comes out clean.
  • Remove cake from oven and let cake cool


  • Mix powder sugar and milk until it makes a thick glaze
  • Pour over cool cake
  • Cut and serve

Based on my other recipe, you know we love rhubarb and I love spring! What better way to celebrate spring than with another rhubarb recipe? My husband would probably say something about morels, but I say rhubarb!

I "invented" this recipe the other day and it didn't last long at all! I took some to my parents and some to my in-laws and we cleaned up the rest. Oops! No kidding, though, it is that delicious. The girls and I joked that I could have named it Everything But The Kitchen Sink Cake because we decided at the last minute to use some strawberries that were going bad in the fridge. I just cut off the "bad" parts and used the good parts. Another variation of this could be done with raspberries, too.

Go grab some rhubarb from your garden or grab some from the freezer and make this delicious springtime dessert!

From the gravel road,


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