Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Monday, May 30, 2011
I had a flashback this week. I was about 10 years old, and out for the day with my Grandma and younger brother. It was a hot summer weekend, and we had just pulled up to a little country church cemetery.
"Why are we planting flowers Grandma?" I asked.
"Because it's Memorial Day," was my Grandma's reply.
I remember asking why, and several other questions. I don't remember my Grandma's reply, because she promptly put us to work. Less time to ask questions, I suppose.
"Go over to the well, and pump some water!"
My brother and I looked over at the rickety old well, in the middle of the cemetery. We had only seen them on TV shows, like "Little House On The Prairie." Never actually used one.
As we walked over to the well carrying an old ice cream pail, my Grandma yelled out, "Just keep pumping until the water comes out!"
And pump we did. First my brother tried, and then I tried. Nothing. No water. Finally, we had to make it a team effort. We both grabbed the handle, and pumped, and pumped, and pumped. After our arms were about ready to fall off, we heard a little squealing sound, and from the depths of the earth, we could hear what sounded like water making it's way to the top. I remember my brother and I wondering if the water came from China?
Finally, a little trickle of water started to fill our bucket, and then the water starting pouring out. We quickly filled our bucket, and ran it over to my Grandma to water the flowers. After several more trips back and forth to the well, we finally finished our job. Then we sat on the grass, and watched as my Grandma fussed over the flowers, and cleaned the grass around the tombstone, to make sure everything looked just right. Her way of honoring my Grandpa and his life.
This week, I went with my Mom, and the scene played out again. The country cemetery looks the same, except some of the stones are starting to sink into the ground now. The old pump was still there, with a bucket hanging from the nozzle. This time though, we carried out jugs of water which my Mom had put in the car. I wondered though if we could actually get water out of the pump.
As I was thinking back to that day with my Grandma, I realized the importance of taking a day to remember.
Remembering someone's life.
What made them unique.
How they impacted your life, and the sacrifices they made.
And someday, I'm sure I'll be watering flowers at the cemetery with my kids, and trying to answer their questions too.
Hoping you take time to remember today..
Happy Memorial Day
Sunday, May 29, 2011
Let me start with a confession: I am guilty of wanderlust in the worst way. As a kid, I’d sit in school and daydream about searching for Misty on Assateague Island. As a teen, I spent my 17th summer working at a dude ranch in Mauston, Wisconsin; and my 18th working at Camp Tapawingo (no, I did not make up that name) in Sweden, Maine. When you have wanderlust and no money, out-of-state jobs are not a bad way to see the world. After college, most of my friends spent their paychecks on clothes and cars. Guess how I spent mine?
If you have a touch of wanderlust too, come visit my Taste the World blog at
Susan Miura is married to a police sergeant, has two teenagers, and is a member of Willow Creek Community Church and the ACFW. She is the Public Relations Coordinator for a large library in Chicago's northwest suburbs and has side jobs as a book reviewer for Faithfulreader.com and as a presenter of travel programs. Susan is an agented writer with the Hartline Literary Agency and the author of a short story in The Spirit of Christmas (anthology) to be released by St. Martin’s Press in October, 2011. (It will either be titled "The Colors of Christmas" or "Christmas Rainbow.") She also authored “The Cotton Candy Man,” a short story in the Missing anthology published by Echelon Press in 2009.
Saturday, May 28, 2011
I poured the bubbling water into two jadeite, green mugs.
A crossword puzzle, saltine crackers and Red Rose tea with a teaspoon of sugar were part of my Grandmother’s afternoon routine.
Sitting across from her at the little table, I sipped the steaming hot tea as she pushed aside the worn dictionary in favor of a story about her brother, Robert, who died of influenza or her childhood friend, Betsy, with the long, chestnut curls.
Lazy afternoons at my Grandmother’s house seemed endless and tea never tasted as good as when sipped from those old green mugs.
In the dining room, Grandmother’s buffet held exquisite serving dishes, sparkling pink goblets and delicate teacups. Fascinated by each piece, I imagined her smoothing the crocheted lace tablecloth and setting the table with her fine china in preparation for a party or fancy dinner.
Yet, if I could return to my Grandmother’s Ohio home and carry away a memento of my days with her, I would not retrieve one of her finer things, but rather, I would lay claim to those precious, green, jadeite mugs.
I love everyday things, common things, useful things, available things – things we connect with the comings and goings of life. I value things that sometimes require a little repair or a little scouring to remove a stain, yet things I can depend upon to always be there.
I confess, sometimes I have wanted to be or have the “finer things” in life, like the elegant teacups in Grandma’s dining room. Fortunately, I now understand that is the everyday things and everyday experiences that bring the greatest joy to our lives.
A brilliant sunset, the hug of a child, an afternoon sitting in the shade, a good book, another afternoon with Grandma, a loving friend, a sip of tea from a green mug are the everyday things I long for.
Friday, May 27, 2011
The farmers still can’t plant.
The earth struggles to swallow all the sky continues to deliver.
And I think how sometimes it seems to take forever for me to soak up all that God pours in before I notice any kind of growth.
The air hangs heavy with the scent of lilacs.
I can’t walk in this weather, so I decide to take a drive to see if I can see the familiar through new eyes.
I’m fascinated with the broken down, the hidden, and forgotten.
Pieces of the landscape that connect us to the past.
That are part of our history, but that will one day be gone forever.
I still miss our 150-year-old barn that stood on a stone foundation, then finally collapsed in the wind a couple of years ago.
A shadow of family history since entombed underground and now exists only in photographs and memories.
And kept alive in stories.
The mist gives a different perspective, reminds me that I see dimly in this life.
A weathered barn stands proud and dwarfs a crow as it flies by.
And I think of how insignificant I am in the scheme of things—yet how He knows every hair on my head.
The country is, of course, scarlet splashed, with a color I now connect with hope.
It’s even said that at one time, some farmers may have mixed stock blood with linseed oil and skimmed milk and lime and rust to give the protective coating a brighter red color.
At least for the interior.
My husband’s great-grandfather built this barn in about 1890. A later owner painted it blue.
It’s obviously deteriorating.
But the red bleeds through the blue.
Like hope bleeds through brokenness, hovers over the hidden, and remembers the forgotten.
If we look for it.
My husband frowns later as he hangs over my shoulder.
“Where did you take that picture? What is it?”
It’s mostly just stuff that’s always been here.
You just didn’t see it.
Sandra Heska King
Wife, mom, grandma, nurse, Bible teacher, writer, blogger, and deep see diver who looks for the extraordinary in the ordinary and the miraculous in the mundane. On Twitter as @SandraHeskaKing and at http://sandraheskaking.com.
Thursday, May 26, 2011
I think I can compete with "Deal or No Deal?" host Howie Mandel but I refuse to shave my head.
My show works this way.
I have just been on a homeschool field trip to measure the width at the widest spot in the Fox River, the pediatrician, the post office, the oil change place, and pharmacy. But, of course, I am expected at 6:00 Pm to be home and produce a sumptuous, savory, and satisfying meal.
It's my 26 or is it 6 kids who are opening up the briefcases showing clues as to what they want for dinner. My kids claim they really aren't all that picky when it comes to eating but it's not true. One of them wants Kosher and organic, one is eating Atkins, and another one is eating carbs only. Then I have the child who wants no refined sugar or caffeine. Finally I have two who refuse anything unless you have to peel it or crack it to find the natural food inside like bananas or peanuts. Try making a meal out of that!
In the 17 days over Christmas break our college age kids joined us at home and with all of us bellying up to the table three times a day I estimated that before "vacation" was over I would have prepared 408 meals. That's eight people at three meals a day for 17 days. You do the math.
My son Pooka had the nerve to ask me, "Why wasn't I getting out more? Didn't I want some "me" time?"
"You've just got to make the time," he advised.
So the lights come on and here we are in front of the "Meal or No Meal?" studio audience. I open the refrigerator and produce the frozen pheasant my husband shot last fall. It's frosty, somewhat red, and has a tail feather sticking out.
"Meal or no meal?" I ask."
The kids huddle and confer. "No meal!" they yell.
I then walk over to the microwave and open the door so all can see the macaroni and cheese plate that got set on 10 minutes instead of 1 minute. They look like taconite iron pellets painted black. My husband plans to use them to shoot more pheasants. I point at both and say, "Meal or no meal?" (I am thinking I should have made it in the oven instead of the microwave because when I do that it's so much easier to pass off ready made meals as my own.)
They hesitate for a moment and then start jumping up and down, "No meal!" Everyone cheers.
I then casually walk over to the oven and open the door. There are two turkey legs from Thanksgiving that fell off and have been covered by aluminum foil for the last three months. Each one now appears to have the rough skin of a tyrannosaurus Rex. "Meal or no meal?" I ask.
"Maybe we should take it," one desperate kid pleads.
I tell them it's from the new genre of cooking called "minimalistic." It suits an extremely busy mom just fine. Some defeathered turkey legs and eight washed plums in an earthy, homemade basket in the middle of the table puts me on the cutting edge.
"No sirree!" the others respond. "No meal! No meal!"
"Very well," I say. I stroll over to the pantry closet, open it, and show the kids five potatoes that have grown horns like Santa's reindeer. They are soft, pliable, and now a lovely green. Just in time for St. Patrick's Day. "Meal or no meal?" I ask with a smile.
"Don't do it!" our youngest shouts. "I hate green."
The older children relent and say, "No meal!"
I casually close the doors and walk over to the couch in the living room. I warn them we are getting down to their last choice. I then lift up the middle couch cushion and produce the bag of Cheetos that was left there when my oldest son entered first grade.
"They're still orange," I say, "at least when you pull them apart. It fits in with the trendy medieval style of eating where no silverware is used."
The kids start to waiver. Someone lunges for the bell but then pulls back. "No meal!" they announce.
At that I take my coat, purse, and keys and casually answer, "You win! There's No Meal tonight. I'm going to Panera to eat supper with the Banker (your father) . See you tomorrow night, same time, same channel."
Behind me I hear the oven door open and one of the kids ask, "Why are those turkey legs still moving?
Cheryl write books and comedy columns at Momlaughs
Leave me a comment about your favorite part of family meals or preparation.
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
I just got back from a family vacation. Some people go to lakeside cabins. Others like to bond at a theme park while wearing mouse ears and eating gobs of cotton candy. Countless others might argue that sitting poolside with an umbrella drink in one hand and magazine in the other is the epitome of escapism.
Personally, I find my R & R off the beaten path. Granted, I’m not your garden-variety sightseer. Avoiding tourist traps and mobs of people is a game to me. A challenge to be met. A gold medal to attain. And let me tell you, makes for some interesting vacation photos.
My favorite was the shiitake mushroom tour in Arkansas. Yeah, that was a real winner with the kids. Translation: boring. Then there was the White Trash Café in Nashville. I thought the toilet paper trailing the shoes on the waitress tied in spectacularly with the theme. Needless to say, my husband wasn’t impressed. And let’s not forget the World’s Largest Ball of Twine in western Minnesota. Too bad it was closed the day we went there.
So this time out, my family mutinied on me. Just like that. They trussed me up with a seatbelt and took over the vacation agenda. We ended up at The Bean in Chicago. The Bean. Me at The Bean—and about a gazillion other people.
I gave it my best shot. I really did. I gaped at it from every angle. By popping off my sunglasses and sticking them back on, I viewed the thing in varying degrees of light. I even examined it from inches to blocks away, both squinting and wide-eyed. But I didn’t get it. I just didn’t get it.
Can someone please explain how this shiny metal object is more noteworthy than the Sloss Furnaces down in Birmingham?
Seriously. What’s up with The Bean? It’s a polished chunk of stainless steel sitting on a street corner in the middle of a big city. And this is a destination because of…uh….what?
Oh yeah. Never mind. It’s art.
Speaking of art (warning: shameless commercial break)...
Relax this summer with the literary variety. Grab a copy of UNDERCURRENT and take a vacation to the past:
People go missing every day. Some meet with foul play. Many leave the social grid by choice. Still others are never accounted for. Such is the fate of Cassie Larson who tumbles into the North Sea... and a different century.
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
By Angie Ryg, Guest Columnist
I have been thinking a lot about goals and dreams with the seasons about to change again in the Midwest. The fact is that I have my list of what I want to accomplish this summer...a bucket list of sorts...but I am often reminded that God has a plan for my life that might not be exactly what I desire, but it is always best.
He promises that to us in Jeremiah 29: "For I know the plans I have for you..plans to prosper you and give you peace."
So I write this list with
a little hesitancy,
a little humility ,
and a lot of humor!
Goals and Dreams For My Life, beginning this summer
Top 25 Things that I Want To Do
Subject to change Daily...
1. Run a Marathon.
2. Go camping with all four of my children and husband.
3. Go to Disneyworld (again).
4. Clean out my closet.
5. See my children get married.
6. Go on a vacation with just my husband.
7. Go on a cruise with a fun couple we know.
8. See Wicked.... is it really that good?
9. Play drums for the GoGos (Some dreams I kept from my childhood...)
10. Write a book.
11. Love Jesus with everything I have.
12. Go to the beach.
13. Make a perfect Danish Layer Cake.
14. Grow more than just tomatoes in my garden.
15. See the Holy Lands.
16. Get up early to read the Bible for more than 21 days in a row.
( 'Cause doesn't it become a habit, then?)
17. Watch one of my children in a musical or play.
18. Finish a triathlon ( half or whole...I'm not choosy)
19. Speak to women about the changing love of Jesus.
20. Finish our Master Bathroom.
21. Teach my children to be confident and kind.
22. Write a Mother/Daughter Bible Study Book.
23. Read the whole Bible.
24. Teach a college course on anything.
25. See my children walking in the Truth.
Because if you look at my list, in the whole realm of life, not a lot will be important. But a few are eternal. I would love to hear about a few of your dreams, hopes, or goals. Leave me a comment
by Angie Ryg, Author, Blogger, Guest Columnist on Barn Door.
Check out Angie's Kindle Blog, Finding Joy in Everyday MOMents,
Monday, May 23, 2011
|1997 at Turner Hall|
|Flag folding ceremony 2000 Turner Hall|
Sunday, May 22, 2011
Okay, so not all these are not weeds--not if you think about what weed means.
1. a valueless plant growing wild, especially one that grows on cultivated ground to the exclusion or injury of the desired crop.
2. any undesirable or troublesome plant, especially one that grows profusely where it is not wanted: The vacant lot was covered with weeds.
And that effectively eliminates these irises growing in my yard. What a relief. I only have a couple of these beauties and it'd be a crying shame to pull them out!
Now here is an honest-to-goodness weed: Yarrow. But it grows in with the Trinity Flowers and this is one that is useful. I also planted this one in the shade garden to make sure I'd always have at least a small supply of Yarrow.
Any idea what it's used for?
Although these are left to the weeds, they certainly aren't weeds. Unfortunately we didn't get them sprayed so this is probably the nicest they'll look all year--and we won't get to eat any. Bummer 'cuz we all really like peaches.
One of the benefits of having Gracie around (she's my Great Pyrennes) is that we actually get to enjoy blueberries! In years past we were lucky to beat the deer to the blueberry bushes. But now that Gracie is here, we're getting bumper crops of yummy blueberries. Yumz! Can't wait!
Here ya go! What many of us around here claim to be a bona-fide weed: Wild Grape Vines. What a tangled mess they make in the fence rows! But, they do make for crispy pickles!
And apples! Being a girl from Maine, apple trees are a must. It's one of the things I missed most when I lived in Ecuador.
Now that all the water has soaked in and run off, the weeds are really beginning to grow. I mean the real weeds--the ones many of you who live in towns and cities spray to get rid of.
Sometime this summer I'll show you some good weeds and what I do with them. Can you guess?
I'll give you a hint: rather than getting rid of them, I've been known to tend and harvest them.
So tell me, how are the weeds (and otherwise) by you?
Saturday, May 21, 2011
Since we celebrate Mothers Day this month, I've been thinking about what my mother, Rev. Maxine Haines, taught me before she passed away.
Sometimes Mom’s instruction was intentional and intense (Mark Edward! What were you thinking?). At other times it was conscious and comfortable (What do you think, Mom?). However, the largest part of what I learned from Mom came from the way she went about her life day in and day out. Here are TEN THINGS MOM TAUGHT ME.
Jesus loves me.
Some of you can remember hearing that simple message for the first time, but I can’t. I don’t remember a time that I did not know that. Mom made sure I knew that Jesus loved me enough to die on a cross for me.
Sweat the big things. By the way, there aren’t any big things.
That's because a big thing is something that Jesus can't handle. He took on all the forces of hell, death, and the grave -- beating them all. Mom pointed out that Jesus doesn't promise a life free of pain and problems but he guarantees to see us through them all. So relax. Rest in his presence.
My Mom would agree with Winnie the Pooh when he asked his friend Eeyore, “Why worry? If
you’ve done the very best you can, worrying won’t make it better.”
The only way to live the married life is to be in love with your best friend and partner in life’s mission.
Monogamy is not monotony, despite what the world may think. Yes, love will change as it matures but you can grow with it. True love deepens and grows stronger over the years. Lifelong marriage is not something we "have to do" as Christians. It is a blessing we "get to enjoy".
Grandchildren are even more fun than children are.
You can always send the grandkids back to their parents! Besides, there's a certain irony about watching your son face kids that act just like he did. I'm sure she smiled several times as she watched me work with our girls. Mom had a special place in her heart for our daughters. She saw in each one an awesome potential to bring us joy. She reminded my wife and me that each girl is a unique individual with special gifts and graces. And she prayed for them -- alone and with her prayer partners. Mom loved being with our girls.
True beauty shines through from the inside and cannot be put on the outside no matter how hard one tries.
Mom was simple and conservative in her dress and use of make-up. She was an honest product of the church’s teachings of her day. And she helped me see that a beautiful appearance cannot hide an ugly spirit. To tell the truth, a beautiful spirit will shine though anything.
Strong women are a blessing from God to real men.
Some men look for a woman they can dominate or control. In her relationship with Dad, Mom showed us that a truly strong man needs a strong woman to partner with him. Together, two strong persons can accomplish far more than the sum total of their individual efforts.
It’s OK to write in your Bible as long as you let the Holy Spirit write the Bible into your lifestyle.
Mom taught us that the Bible is God's Word. We must study it, take it seriously, know it and live it.
Life is serious business. Laugh out loud.
Life is too short in this world to take it lightly. Mom reminded us that we think, do and say today will have eternal consequences and not to forget it. But life in this world is also long enough to enjoy. Mom taught us to play games while we traveled, to look forward to the simple pleasures of "Christmas Stocking Stuffers," to tell funny stories and to laugh together.
Love is occasionally expressed best in receiving “a cup of cold water.”
During Mom'slast hospital stay the staff was very caring. One young lady with Down's syndrome was responsible for passing out ice water in the morning and hand wipes after lunch. Mom appreciated the beauty of her spirit and her conscientious service. Even though Mom was suffering significant pain and struggling to stay awake because of the medications, when this young lady entered the room with a hand wipe Mom woke up and took it with thanks. Mom wanted that young lady to know her work was important and made a difference.
Our real home is with Jesus.
“Lee, I want to go home,” Mom told my Dad after she’d been in the hospital for several weeks.
Dad replied, “You’re too sick, honey. I won’t be able to take care of you at home.”
Mom realized Dad didn’t understand what she meant. So she said, “No! I want to go home to be with Jesus.”
The apostle Paul wrote, “We are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. That is why we live by believing and not by seeing. Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:6-8 New Living Translation).
What will you teach to your children and grandchildren? What are you teaching them? How are you teaching them? What will they remember when you’re no longer here to guide them? Let me know by leaving a comment.
If this article has helped you, please share it with your friends.
Pastor Mark Haines
Follow PastrMarkHaines on Twitter
Jesus says, "My yoke is easy" (Matthew 11:30)
Friday, May 20, 2011
|God's Summer Plantin' has begun. Wildflowers. :)|
Thursday, May 19, 2011
So here we have Hannah and Ross Brown holding Caleb Bowman. Wes, Rachel and Becca Bowman. Rose Rayle, the preemie, who is now expecting a little one of her own. Nephew Jed Mahin standing in front of Rebecca's husband, Sheldon. Rebecca on her scooter with her father-in-love Wilbur Bowman and her aunt Suzie Carder on her other side.
Q4U: Have you ever participated in a walk for a cause?