Monday, October 31, 2011

October is National Clock Month

Did you know October is National Clock month?

On my fifteenth birthday my boyfriend gave me a cuckoo clock. He said he'd always wanted one.

I loved it and hung it in my bedroom. When we married and my boyfriend became Husband, he hung it in our living room in our tiny home in Riverbank, California.

After several moves one of the weights became lost. So on a trip to Switzerland, Husband replaced it with this one. It hangs on the dining room wall just outside our bedroom, and disturbs our sleep. So . . . we rarely wind it.
When I was a young girl, my father made a grandfather clock and later a grandmother clock. He made them with a kit. The wood and all the parts needed came all together in a package.

Husband made this grandfather clock in 1961 in the little wood shop he had in our garage. He used a pattern, bought the wood from the local lumbar yard, and we traveled to Southern California for the works. He gave it to his parents as a gift. (They did pay for the parts and the beautiful walnut wood.)

I can't remember which of my siblings got the clocks after Dad passed.

Husband and I inherited this one that husband made. Husband winds it once each week.

When you visit our home you get the impression that we enjoy clocks. A neighbor made us this battery powered one.

The Ten Commandments clock was another gift. A battery powered electric device.

Husband's enjoys winding this regulator clock every week. The clock was a gift from his parents.

Some of our clocks reveal our interests. Husband is a pilot.
And I am a writer.
Everyone needs a kitchen clock!
Husband says, with so many clocks how do we really know what time it is?
We each have an alarm clock on our side of the bed. Mine has a green light so it does not show up well in the picture.

And then we have Daylight Savings time. Husband says we loose the extra hour changing all our clocks. We have a clock on our land-line phone, on three cordless phones, on a heater in our bathroom, and the list goes on.

Don't forget to change your clock November 6, 2011. When you change the time it's a good time to remember to change the batteries.

Q4U  How does Daylight Savings Time effect your life?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

I Am Fall

Recently someone asked me to describe myself using the seasons. I'm definitely fall. It is my favorite season, but when I think of my personality, it just seems to fit.

I heard a woman speak several years ago about the seasons, and at the end of her talk, she asked each person to pick a season for themselves. I picked fall, and it has stuck with me ever since.

Fall speaks to me of





This past year I've experienced more of these sentiments than I cared to endure.

However, fall also speaks to me of

New Beginnings

So, my hope and prayer this fall is for..

**Artwork by Marietta Photography

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Passing Fancy

Midwestern leaves, exhausted from dressing up each day for the gala event of Autumn, slip into soft brown dressing gowns and fall any which way into heaps and piles for their winter slumber.

The sun decides we have been lavished with enough radiance this year. It grants us a few gracious hours but transfers the bulk of its favors to another hemisphere that has impatiently waited its turn for light-drenched days.

Creatures that abandon the Midwest and follow the sun call anxiously to each other to hurry. Snow is coming! Hurry! Those animals required to stay spend waning days gathering food and fatness to themselves, driven by an uneasy urgency. Male deer, knowing that late fall will shed their enticing, entrancing antlers as ruthlessly as it sheds leaves from trees, parade in front of females, libido-impelled to ignore dangers of shotgun blasts and headlights.

The ground feels warmth seep away, sparing only a bit for some hardy mums and asters. It steels itself to endure the crushing weight of tractors, rakes, and combines, hugging the knowledge that soon a comforter of snow will shield it from raw winds and ravaging machines. Until the sun once again turns its face north, the earth will rest.

Then comes the wind. It bullies from branches the few leaves hoping festivities would resume. It shouts down the birds who spent the summer singing in the dawn until, recognizing an adversary with greater endurance and endless reserves, they give up altogether and are silent.

The glorious extravaganza of a Midwest autumn is over. It won’t celebrate again till next year. It retires to dream up the perfect date, theme and invitation list for Autumn 2012, leaving a frail and failing Fall to work out last minute details with Winter on the exact date this year's White and Ice Carnival will commence.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Tempo Giusto

Tempo Giusto

This time, like all times, is a very good one. If we but know what to do with it.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

We need all five senses to delight in this beautiful season. The changing colors, the smell of cinnamon as we transform our menus, the crunch of leaves beneath our feet, the feel of our favorite sweater taken out of storage, the sounds of children laughing and playing as they catch the last few days of warmth. It is a feast for the senses.

We also need time. Sadly, I crammed my schedule so full this year that I had precious few moments to soak up the beauty of our glorious midwestern autumn. I am frustrated.

I am beginning to ask myself some important questions. Is there a right speed for life? Is there a pace that allows us to slow down and enjoy beauty? More importantly, is there a tempo that enhances relationships and brings greater life satisfaction?

The great composers labored over each composition, choosing the perfect tempo for their work. They realized the corret tempo was critical and could energize their masterpiece or render it lifeless on the page.

The often used tempos: adagio, lento and allegro, determine not only the pace but also the mood of the composition. In Gail Godwin's book, Heart, she offers a personal interpreation of the lesser known tempo giusto.

Ms. Godwin explains, The Italians have a musical notation not found in any other language: tempo giusto, the 'right tempo.' It means a steady, normal beat, between 66 and 76 n the metronome. Tempo giusto is the appropriate beat of the human heart.

It seems there is a right tempo for life, a steady, unhurried tempo that allows the masterpiece to come to life. Our personal choice of tempo sets the pace at which we live. Our choice of tempo can allow us time to enjoy this season or guarantees that it will totally pass us by.

Certainly the right tempo would include stops and rests for our allegro and fortissimo lives, allowing us moments to absorb the beauty of God's creation. The right tempo for our life should reflect the steady beat of our hearts.

My grandparents lived tempo giusto.

Fall was important to them. It was all about raking leaves and allowing little girls to squeal and jump into the leaves time and again. It was about smelling beef stew simmering on the back of Grandma's stove or helping her peel red delicious apples for a sweet pie.

Fifty years later, I am certain they were living at the right tempo. They understood tempo giusto. Perhaps it is time to regain my own tempo giusto before it is too late.

I think I'll head to the kitchen and bake a pumpkin pie.

(The picture at the top of the page is my grandparent's home in Steubenville, Ohio. I spent many a fall afternoon on that front porch.)

Quote from Gail Godwin's book, Heart, A Natural History of a Heart-filled Life(New York, NY, William Morrow, 2005) pg. 6

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Rest and Refresh

We spent a couple of nights in the Days Inn.

And then early morning hours in a small hospital waiting room lit by Coke and candy machines. That was the night my mom's blood pressure was whack. My sister swiped a couple pillows off a stretcher in a hallway and cleaned them with her always-present disinfectant. We created two "beds" from the four small two-seaters and dozed all curled and crooked. A security guard woke us about 5 a.m. to tell us about the Days Inn down the road. Not that we were really asleep. And yes, we know.

But tonight we have moved.

The sisters have opened a double "suite" above the chapel for us. For as long as we need it. We arrive late at night and find the key where they have tucked it away for us. The entry is dimly lit, and the fragrance of prayer candles greets us as they flicker to our right. All is silent, and we whisper.

All we need is a comfortable place to lay our heads, but we are overwhelmed at the size of the space prepared for us. My sister calls me to the refrigerator and shows me the plates of quiche and pumpkin pancakes set there for us. Along with a dish of sliced apples, three kinds of jam, orange juice and milk. Even wine should we choose. On the counter there are two boxes of cereal, regular and sugar-free syrup, a fresh loaf of bread, and a plate of doughnuts. And bananas on the table.

Fresh towels, soap, and a cup have been placed in each of our bedrooms.

Later, I wander out of the room. We are the only ones on this floor, but I can almost see the nuns of the past as they move in silence up and down the hall. Sister Rosalie, a founding sister, and Sister Marie, the first novice, still live here.

I enter the prayer room and sit in darkness, though I can peer through the curtains into the chapel below. The nuns used to be cloistered and would come into this room to pray and hold vigil during the night. I sense His presence here.

In the morning, I go out on the enclosed porch that extends the length of this side of the building.

I breathe.

I am rested, refreshed, and strengthened.

Don't burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don't quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; e inventive in hospitality. ~Romans 12:11-13

Photos from The Augustine Center in Conway, Michigan

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

20 Things I’ve Learned from Raising Six Children

1) Salt, pepper and milk are not fish food.
2) It's a bad thing when your child calls from camp and asks if it's a bad thing if one foot is bigger than the other.
3) If you mow the lawn with the basement windows open – the carbon monoxide detector will go off.
4) The ceiling fan doesn’t hold more than a 40 pound child and is not a substitute for taking your child to Great America.
5) Two kids cannot sit on top of the refrigerator but one can.
6) A 10-year-old cannot run a mile without shoes but he can run a ½ mile.
7) A mother with three sons doesn’t have that many friends who are mothers of all girls when the sons are young. The mother has more friends who are mothers of all girls when they reach high school age.
8) You get invited over less to friends and family’s houses for Sunday dinner when you have six kids.
9) When the nurse says, "even though the white count is as high as Mononucleosis – it’s only E coli," you shouldn’t be happy.
10) Finger painting is a good hobby.
11) Finger painting the front door is not a good hobby.
12) Green marker and a new couch don’t mix.
13) Black marker and a new loveseat also don’t mix.
14) The backyard swimming pool is not a bubble bath.
15) Pool filters do not like bubbles.
16) A dog who has been fed two packages of hot dogs can throw up twice his body weight.
17) Being hit with a marble from the second floor hurts more than being hit by a marble from the first floor.
18) The Easy Bake oven does not bake cookies fast enough for a family of eight.
19) “I hope you didn't forget I put the cell phone on the roof of the car” is not a good thing to hear when you are going 60 mph on the toll way.
20) A good sense of humor will get you through most problems in life.

By Cheryl, Momlaughs
I have decided that I can laugh or cry and I have decided to laugh my way through motherhood.

Visit Cheryl's Kindle Store and Buy Now!

 Cheryl's Kindle Books and Blogs

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Stuck in a Squirrel Cage

October is as good a month as any to run away from Minnesota. Well, okay, so maybe not as fantastic as escaping in nose-hair-freezingJanuary, but no matter the season, whenever an opportunity presents itself for a quick getaway, I say go for it.

So last weekend, I packed up and toodled off to Council Bluffs, Iowa, for a fun girly weekend. My 2 daughters and I ate a pallat's worth of chocolate. Shopped until my credit card started smoking.

And toured a jail.
The Squirrel Cage jail was built in the 1880's. I'm not exactly sure what a squirrel cage looks like, but this place is kind of like a flipped over hamster wheel on steroids. 3 stories high, the jail housed up to 5 inmates in each spoke-shaped cell.

In order for a prisoner to exit his cell, the entire unit revolved in a mongo-circle to line up with a single opening. Great way to prevent mass exodus escaping, but horrendous planning should a fire arise...which was why they eventually closed the jail in the 1960's.

Apparently the place is haunted. I didn't see or hear anything freaky--except for us...which probably explains it. We're enough to creep out any self-respecting ghosts.

The Squirrel Cage Jail is a fun little tour. If you're in the area and enjoy quirky sites, this is one place you'll want to check out.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Shipshewana, Indiana with Vannetta Chapman

Author Vannetta Chapman talks about the setting for her latest book, Falling to Pieces.

Vannetta says: my editor, Sue Brower, chose Shipshewana. I'm so glad she did as it's a wonderful little town full of very friendly people. I first visited Shipshe in the summer of 2010 with my husband as I was writing Falling to Pieces. Then I went back again this last summer with Zondervan's sales team. We did some filming for a video which has lovely shots of the town and the surrounding Amish farms. Both of those trips sere invaluable to me as a writer. Not only did they give me a good sense of the town, what it was like, what the weather, countryside and shops were like ... but more importantly I met the people who live in and around Shipshe. I made friendships that I cherish, and I gained a clearer picture of the characters I was writing about.

Shipshe is a town of 600, but the population swells to 35,000 during market days. I didn't quite appreciate that until I experienced it. There are these wonderful vendors -- both Amish and Englisch -- and people come from near and far to attend. There are also auctions that take place. And of course there's the Amish food! I visited the historical museums. There's a wonderful hands-on museum called the Menno-Hof  which was raised by local Amish and Mennonites in the custom of an Amish barn-raising. I also was able to visit some of the Amish farms, have dinner with some lovely Amish families and just sit and talk with them. It was an awesome experience, and I think it had a huge influence on my writing.

I'll be back in Shipshe, November 12th for the start of our Amish Country Holiday Book Tour 2011--with Amy Clipston and Shelley Shepard Gray. We're to be grand marshals in the Christmas parade ... so if any of you are in the area, we'd love to meet!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Great Blogoversary BLOWOUT!

Yes, my friends...thanks to alert and every cheery chipper contributer Joanne Sher's attention to this little detail, The Barn Door celebrates our FIRST YEAR of sharing our beloved Midwest with you come November 8.

We are extra generous here in the Midwest.
And we had such great ideas on how to celebrate that we couldn’t choose just one.

One – What’s better than a Taste of the Midwest?

Our lovely web mastermind Patty is using her talents to design a special gift pdf with our collected recipes. All new subscribers will be offered this gift, but we’ll also park it somewhere so that anyone who wants to download it can grab it.

Two – Gift Basket!

Reminisce with us about your favorite memories over the past year of BarnDoor posts on our Facebook page from November 8-30.

On December 1 we’ll draw from those guests. Note: This isn’t a “pick me!” contest – it’s a fun time to chat and ask questions and share what’s fun about the site. After a while we’ll post a picture of the gift basket.

And finally,

Three We’re gathering our favorite holiday memories and traditions into a booklet to share with you. Copies will be available to everyone on our site here on December 24.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Ft. Masaac Encampment

One of October's highlights for my family is the Ft. Masaac Encampment. It's a French and Indian War Re-enactment and it's a family friendly, educational, FUN weekend!!

Each day starts with the Raising of the Colors. The reenactors parade in, raise the flags and fire the canons in salute.

One part of the grounds is dedicated to vendors where they sell items you might have found in those days. (okay, reproductions, but they're still fun to mosey through!) Even the re-enactors shop. See my husband? No, he's not wearing the earring and feathers. ;-)

I love the slice of life vignettes we get to see as we stroll around.

One of my very favorite features of this re-enactment, is how involved the re-enactors are with us, the audience. They're always very willing, and eager, to answer questions and tell you about what they're representing. These people are friendly and knowledgeable.

Here's a medical kit. This man was telling us all about the contents, what they were used for.  We use herbs here at my house and I thankful for the knowledge that has been passed down through the years, added onto, and verified over the years.

And, of course, the battle. Every afternoon at 3 is the battle, which is staged in a ravine. People line the ravine to watch and cheer--the Indians always get the loudest cheers (I cropped them out so you could see the army).

This events draws people of all ages. Families are involved as re-enactors and families visit, making it an ideal week-end event waaaaay down south in Illinois, the third Saturday and Sunday every October.

I'm holding a caption contest at my blog, won't you stop by and cast your caption? =)

So tell me, do you have any re-enactments near you?

Finding the Extraordinary God in our Ordinary Lives

Friday, October 21, 2011

Color Tour Turned Time Alone

Recently my wife and I took off for a couple of days to see the fall colors here in Michigan.  As we headed north on the interstate we saw beautiful displays of bright orange and yellow maples.  The only problem with interstate travel is not being able to stop to snap photos, especially in construction zones.

We checked into a hotel around sundown looking forward to driving some of the back roads in order to take some pictures.  When we woke up in the morning a storm had blown through during the night.  The maple leaves were all on the ground.  We spent the day driving across the northern half of the lower peninsula holding hands and enjoying each other's company.  Here are a few of our pictures.  Take a moment to enjoy them with us.
Pastor Mark Haines

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Seasons come . . . and Go

Retrieved from Google Images
 My brother and I are very much alike in many ways, but there is one thing that we hardly ever see eye-to-eye on. Both of us are Michigan born and raised; however, he moved to Northern Virginia several years ago, insisting he couldn’t stand the cold and welcomed the shortened winters and longer summers. I have made noises about running from the economically dry land of Detroit and its suburbs, but it appears God has other ideas. If it weren’t for the seasons, I think I might complain. My favorites are spring and autumn. I love the new life spring ushers in and the colorful, crisp, cool mornings that autumn paints the landscape with. It seems to me that the sun shines more golden during the fall. 

There are seasons, though, that I’m not fond of. The rainy season is usually wrought with storms, at some point during winter ice becomes our enemy as it coats the roads and trees, and summer can strike the match in our personal thermostats making life more comfortable running for the cool refreshment of the pool or lake. Not much work gets done when deep sea diving in the kiddie pool, but it’s okay for a bit and the kids love the time with mom.

In life, we go through various seasons also. Right now, I am in one known as growing pains. After a season of home schooling, I have enrolled my two younger sons in a charter school for which they are surprisingly grateful. Maybe they think the homework and early to rise life is better than mom standing over them with lessons and schoolwork to complete.

Another new season occurred when a young man came over to ask for permission to date our daughter. Now this one is rough. This mom has gone through some tough days, worrying about a host of issues; but throw a boy into the mix? It’s new territory for me. What do I do? How do I act? How much freedom do I allow? Do I trust them—me—hubby—God? I’ve told my daughter to be patient with me. “This is my first boyfriend too, you see?”

Well, he’s not actually my boyfriend, but you understand, right?

How often I’ve told myself that my job is to prepare my children for life outside my home, I can’t count. Now that we’re in the season of change, and my only girl—first born—is old enough to think about marriage and college and career and stuff like that, I wonder about things. Did I do okay? Will she make it? Did I forget something? Maybe I should . . .

This is when the Lord stops me and says, “Have I not protected her? I began a good work in her, I am not finished. Will you trust Me?”

I’ve seen many pass through this season before me. I know this of my God: He is faithful.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Family Is A Blessing We Cherish.

Jacob Wesley
by Grandma Sharon

My husband and I were blessed with five healthy children. They grew, they fell in love, and they married. Soon, they had children of their own. Before we could take it all in, one by one, the grandchildren began to marry. Time, as they say, waits for no man.  A granddaughter and a grand-daughter-in-law were both expecting their first child in March, 2006. We looked forward to becoming  great-grandparents.

January, 2007, was unusually warm in Ohio, not at all the norm for the winter season. A new year had begun and I thought back on the past year with all the deaths and sorrow our family endured. I told my husband this new year couldn’t be worse than the year of our Lord, 2006, had been. The minute the words left my mouth I tried to call them back. Don’t tempt the devil, I thought.

Our middle child, Rebecca, reminded me that the deaths and family sorrow began earlier. It really began December 8, 2005, with the death of her first grandchild. 

Jacob Wesley arrived, ready-or-not, that cold December day. We didn’t expect him until late March, 2006.  Too late, we learned his mother has an incompetent cervix. By the time the problem was discovered there was no way the people at the hospital could prevent his early birth. On a brighter note, they told us they can prevent this, too early arrival, for future births. But it does not negate the loss of our first great-grandchild.  

Rachel, our granddaughter-in-law, gathered her nine-inch long son into her arms and held him for the forty precious minutes that he lived. His newborn skin was fiery red and he looked so sweet with the tiny sock cap the hospital provided. 

Wesley and Rachel cried when they had to give up their newborn son. Only someone who has lost a child could understand the hurt. The newspaper reported a miscarriage which we considered an insult. He lived. He breathed. His life, although short, was real.  

Rachel’s mother along with Rebecca and her daughters got together and sewed a tiny yellow shirt and a miniature patchwork quilt in which to wrap Jacob for his burial. They used the little stocking cap that the hospital furnished to complete the funeral outfit.

Uncle Kevin, a cabinetmaker by trade, built a tiny barn with a removable roof. This would be our Jacob’s casket. The man from the funeral home suggested that Wes purchase a large cooler to use as the required vault.

When my husband and I arrived at the church for the family service, we saw the miniature barn setting on a pedestal in the corner of the room. Even as a very small child, Wesley had loved to farm. To him the toy tractors were real and he plowed, and planted, and harvested in the proper seasons. How fitting that his son should be buried in the farm-theme coffin.

“Can we see him?” my husband asked, as we approached the grieving parents. 

“Okay.” Wes walked over to the little casket with us. “I’ll let you see him, but he doesn’t look very good by now.” 

Wes lifted the lid on the barn-shaped coffin, revealing our great-grandson to us for the first time. We thought he was precious. A quick hello, sweetheart, and it was soon time to take our seats with the other grandparents.

It was a simple service and would have been held at the cemetery if it were not so bitter cold that day. We needed those words of comfort and the hymns and prayers.  Afterward, we left for the snow-covered burial site and laid our first great-grandchild to rest. 

If I remember correctly, we sang a few hymns as the funeral director sealed the vault and lowered it into the hole that had been prepared in the frozen earth. We continued to sing as Wes and his family took turns filling the grave with soil, a custom that brought comfort to us.  Goodbye, sweetheart.  

After the burial, Wes and Rachel placed flowers on their son’s grave. Then we went back to the church basement for a funeral meal which was furnished by Wes and Rachel’s congregation.

Years ago people didn’t have a service for one who lived such a short time. Only the parents would go to the grave-site, but no service was held.  We understood that some still don’t think a service was necessary, but our family needed recognition of this child’s life. We needed closure.

Later, God blessed this family with a daughter. This five generation picture shows the child's great-great grandparents, great grandpa, grandmother and father.

July 2010 our Great-grandson Caleb was born.  His grandmother holds him. His sister is quite proud of him. His father is blessed. 

Our newest Great Granddaughter, Jacqueline Rose, blessed us with her presence September 9th.  

This five generation picture includes Mother-in-Love, the baby's great-great grandmother. Husband, the baby's grandfather, Daughter, the baby's grandmother, Granddaughter, the baby's mother and Great-granddaughter, Jacqueline, the center of attention!

Our five children blessed us with 16 grandchildren. As the grandchildren mature and marry they have blessed us with 6 greats. And two more are arriving soon.

Children truly are the gift of God.


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