Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Can't Plant Corn, So Let's Go Flying

Nothing says Springtime to a pilot like taking the bird up and poking holes in the sky.

And he's safer up there too! Just read the sign below!
This year with all the wet weather we had problems with fungus in the soil and our neighbor hired a crop duster.
And that's the latest story about Spring 2011 in Clark County, OH
Q4U What kind of spring are you having? What do you do to keep your spirits up in gloomy weather?

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

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


Guest post by Susan Miura.

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?

Now I’m a wife and mom, with two teens, a mortgage, college tuition, travel soccer expenses (should sports deplete bank accounts?) and all the responsibilities inherent in those titles. Did that quash my wanderlust? Oh, no. Because of it, my kids have snorkeled with stingrays, sailed over Albuquerque in a hot air balloon, cruised to the Cayman Islands and, hopefully, will be beachcombing Cape Cod’s National Seashore next summer. Faraway places always hold mystery and excitement, but our family favorite is still Christmas Mountain in Wisconsin. Though I’m Illinois born and bred, I’ve always been drawn to Wisconsin—its rolling hills, farms, dilapidated barns, and beautiful horses (is there any other kind?). And with airfares climbing higher than a 747, Wisconsin may be taking the place of more and more of those exotic vacations. Or maybe we’ll head for Saugatuck, Michigan’s Oval Beach – as gorgeous as any sandy stretch on the Gulf of Mexico.

Does the destination matter? Not at all. My motto has always been “anywhere but here.” When the four of us get away, leaving school and work in our wake, we connect. We play together, laugh together, experience new things, and even occasionally (wait for it) play board games at night! Making it happen is a challenge. My husband and I work, as does my 19-year old, and my daughter thinks soccer camps take priority over…well…everything else in life. But I push myself through the hair-tearing phase of finding one week in summer and a few days during Spring Break when we can just be us. And when that happens, it is nothing short of a beautiful, amazing, gift from God. I’m glad He infused me with wanderlust, after all. Guess He know what He’s doing.

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

Everyday Stuff

Hunched over her gray, Formica table, Webster’s Dictionary open before her, my Grandmother labored over the crossword puzzle in the local newspaper. The silence was broken by the shrill whistle of the tea kettle.

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

Seeing the Country Sights

Guest post by Sandra Heska King

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.

How appropriate.

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.


Special Guest Post by 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

Meal or No Meal?

I have added my own game show to the tradition of "Deal or no Deal?" I"m calling it "Meal or No Meal?"

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

Umm... Art?

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 CafĂ© 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

Summer is Heading our Way in the Midwest

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

Memorial Day in Rural Wisconsin

Melva Birkholz of Washington County Wisconsin, recalls Memorial Day in 1911

Next to Christmas, Decoration Day was the biggest event in Fillmore. We took seriously the day set aside to honor the veterans buried on our three cemeteries. There were the upper, the lower and the old cemetery. The teachers and children of our two-room school rehearsed for weeks in preparation for the parade and program. The Farmington Turner Society sponsored the ceremonies by providing money for the band and the use of the Turner Hall.

Our village was astir early in the morning of the big day. Still wet with dew, papa cut tulips, lilacs, bleeding heart and other spring flowers and carried them into the cellar to rest in buckets of water until it was time to make a wreath for me to carry in the parade.

After breakfast, papa hitched our sleekly groomed horse, Buster, to the wagon loaded with a lawn mower, pots of geraniums, and a sprinkling can with enough water to prime the pump. Then we were off to the cemetery to tidy up the family plots. Neighbors and friends were already there busily planting, mowing or just visiting.

1997 at Turner Hall

Shortly after noon the children gathered on the school grounds. The girls came in white dresses over stiffly starched petticoats, white shoes and stockings, and straw hats held in place by an elastic band tucked under the chin, each carrying a wreath of spring flowers. The boys showed up in knickers, fresh haircuts and smartly polished shoes. Flags were passed out to the boys with instructions on how to carry them.

The band assembled in the shade of the box elder trees as the teachers steered the children to their proper place in line, Civil War veterans came first. Most of them were very old but determined to march one more time. Next came newly discharged World War I veterans. At the roll of the drums, we were off. No one ever led a parade more proudly and with more aplomb than Julius Geidel astride his prancing steed. What we children lacked in precision marching we made up for in enthusiasm as we kicked up the dust on the unpaved road that led to the Turner Hall.

Flag folding ceremony 2000 Turner Hall

Sheltered by ancient pines, the hall was cool and shadowy as we made our way down the aisle to our seats. We all stood up to sing “America” and after the band played a few rousing marches that shook the rafters, it was time for the recitations. With pounding hearts lest we forgot our lines we waited for our names to be called. After the program we marched down the hill to the cemeteries. Following a brief eulogy, a flag and a wreath were placed on each veteran’s grave.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Weed Watchers Report: May

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!
Trinity flowers
Years ago I tried my hand at a shade garden. I honestly tried. While I do fine with the plants inside my house, anything outside my four walls tends to die. Here's one of the few flowers left amongst the weeds--Trinity flowers. These things are hardy! They've survived neglect, drought and being eaten by my brother-in-law's horses. It was the final straw for me. Now I just enjoy their wild beauty. ;-)


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!
Blueberry blossoms

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!
Wild Grape

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?

Designs by PattyWysong.com

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Ten Things My Mom Taught Me

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

Bay City Wesleyan Church

Q & A with Pastor Mark Haines

Q & A with Pastor Mark Haines on Kindle

Follow PastrMarkHaines on Twitter

Jesus says, "My yoke is easy" (Matthew 11:30)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Moments of Sunshine

Many who love Michigan will say it’s the seasons that they love most. Winter melts into lush spring that warms into steamy summers which eventually cool to crisp autumns preparing us for the chill of winter again.
At least, this is how it used to be. Lately, our winters have clung to the weather until summer pushes through the thermometer, squeezing spring out of the loop. This year has been no different. We’re into May and finally catching glimpses of spring, but summer is lurking. I can feel it. My 8 and 10 year old  shed their snow suits and donned their shorts and within days, ran for the mittens and coats again.
God's Summer Plantin' has begun. Wildflowers. :)

I am thankful, however, that God has planned out the planting season for me since I haven’t time or talent to grow flowers. Unfortunately, by the time temps hit 80° and 90° my little flowers may be like dandelion dust; I find them pretty anyway and my boys will be bringing them to me soon for their annual bouquet-fest.
Through the volatility of Michigan’s weather, though, is the graciousness of God when it counts. Several years ago, we were witness to one such occasion when young friends of ours decided they would have an outside wedding near the middle of October. Generally, those days are either cold, rainy, or cold and rainy. The bride wanted fall colors—genuine fall colors—and they planned their reception to last long into the night beneath a tent.
Many giggled at the wisdom of this couple’s choice. But on October 11, our friends woke to a glorious sunshiny day, warmed by the air long into the night when their limousine finally whisked them off to their honeymoon suite.
Another such day occurred just recently when my daughter stepped into her burgundy formal to attend prom. The week had been rainy and chilly. That is until Thursday, May 12. Spaghetti straps were plenty to keep the shoulders warm, strappy sandals completed the outfit, and pictures outside on the lawn—most appropriate. The weather held for an additional day before the rains came again, bringing with them the cool temps of late winter/early spring.
Now if only I could come up with some witty, fun story to go along with our roller coaster weather. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The MS Walk

Twenty-One years ago, on a cold December night our daughter Rebecca was operated on for a ruptured appendix. 

And two days later her third child, Rose, was born prematurely. The doctor said she was too tiny to live. 

But our Rose was a fighter. She struggled to breathe.

She wants to live, the doctor said. We have to help her.

All the personnel from the small Bluffton, OH hospital gathered around. It was shift change and the old crew stayed on and the new shift joined them. They hand pumped with a special a bag to help Rose breathe until the ambulance could get there from Toledo.

And just a few months later Rebecca was diagnosed with MS. Now she is supported annually by many of her family members each spring at the MS walk held in Defiance, OH.
Rebecca with Wilbur, her father-in-love, and nephew Jed getting ready to walk beside her. 

Then husband lined them up for a group photo. (He should have gotten into the picture, but. . . he did come home with a cool t-shirt that proves he was there.

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?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Listening to Mother Nature

Is it? Or, isn’t it? Yes or no?

What am I referring to? Spring of course! What a debacle. Here on the farm we are at least a month behind on things thanks to Mother Nature, the elements, the universe or whatever you want to blame.

Mother Nature’s Thought Process

When the snow finally stops, let the rains begin. Then, I’ll give you a peek. Here’s what spring looks like, people. Oh, gone, you missed it! You should have looked that one day.

Back to cold and rain.  Ooops, here, have another nice day, I’ll really fool you. 80 degrees and sunny, how’s that for confusion? OK, now, rain, more rain and I’ll throw in a little thunder, a lot of lightning, and some hail for good measure. Tornado? Nah, not this time, did that last month.

Now, how about a nice 5 day stretch. Just enough time for you to get into the fields.

Time to be nasty again. I think I’ll . . . let’s see. . . yep, rain. Rain is always a good choice, unless of course you need it. So much fun washing out that new hay field you just sowed.

That is my imagination per Mother Nature.

As frustrating as the weather is and as much as it messes with our income and ability to do our job, it is really God’s business.

We had just sowed about 35 acres of alfalfa, finally, and during the last rain deluge a nice river flowed through the middle of the field. The seed swam right out of the field, across the road and landed in the unplowed field that will be a corn field. Yep, money and time washed away. But, what are you going to do? Shake your fist at God, whine, cry, or complain? None of that helps. We figure it’s his land, his seed, his business. We are just here to do the best at helping take care of it all.

A year ago at this time we were very close to being done planting corn. We have not a single kernel in the ground. We are still trying to haul manure to the fields. Manure needs to be spread before we work up the soil and plant.

The alfalfa fields are growing nicely with all this rain. If we had some warmer weather it would be growing gang busters.

So, by the time the manure is hauled, the fields worked up and we are ready to plant corn the hay will also be ready to chop. 

We feel like a tightly wound spring ready to let loose as soon as the weather breaks.

In between all of that there are pockets of joy to be appreciated.

Two of my wigglies are playing baseball this year and I am back on the bleachers.  It’s a little less intense with this generation.

Son #1’s dog, Bella had her puppies. We got a phone call on a Saturday morning from Daughter-in-law #1 to come help. Son #1 was showing a boat and she wanted to make sure her Bella was taken care of.

This is blurry, but if you back up a bit you can see a puppy paw inside the sack before it was born.

The first puppy was born breech. We didn’t realize the problem. Even though we were right there we were trying to let her do her thing without our intruding. Because the puppy was breech and the water had broken, the puppy died in birth.

We watched intently as each puppy presented and had to physically help deliver the other 6. They were all breech except one. One of the breech also had the water broke and we had to be quick to get it out so it wouldn’t asphyxiate. I can now proudly add canine midwife to my resume.

Here are a few more pictures of moments of joy that God gives us daily. You just have to keep your eyes and hearts open to see them.


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