Smoking Adventures: Part Two

Friends! I last left you with my brother and three neighborhood friends in the cemetery trying to learn how to smoke when the town grocer, Tuenis Tillema joined them for some “real men” smoking lessons. Our smoking adventure continues. Enjoy!

By the end of the second cigarette Darren, Jason and Randy began to feel light-headed, a little… nauseated, and smoking wasn’t as cool as they thought it was. But, Tuenis persisted that real men could handle it, so on they went to cigarette number 3. This is where the glamour wore off…

It wasn’t long before Darren started to turn a little green. Cigarette number three was definitely his breaking point. He soon gave up and said he couldn’t do it anymore. I’m sure Tuenis was smiling from ear to ear; on the inside, of course. Watching Darren slowly walk, pausing here there to quell waves of nausea before slowly mounting his bike for the long peddle home.

One foolish boy succumbed to the nonsense of smoking, now for the remaining two. Eagerly encouraging the two remaining boys, Jason and Randy, Tuenis tapped the pack in his hand and drew out two additional cigarettes and handed each one cigarette number four.


Striking a match he lit the cigarettes and told them to draw deep. With cigarettes quivering between dried lips the boys could stand it no longer. Randy’s pale face had moved to a light shade of green and Jason was not far behind.

Coughing and half vomiting the boys threw the cigarettes onto the ground. Randy and Jason threw in the towel and said they were done. They watched Tuenis stamp out the half lit cigarettes and then slowly turned toward their bicycles.

Tuenis’s work was done. I’m sure he happily packed up his folding fishing chair and proudly stood. Giving a salute to the civil war veteran tombstone for a mission accomplished; behind which they all took refuge, and began his journey back to the store.

Randy didn’t have too far to bike. His home was just down the hill from the cemetery but Jason had a good block and a half. Climbing on to the bike, Jason felt waves of nausea and his once vigorous peddling was now half-hearted and shaky.

Someone’s in trouble now

Arriving home, my mother saw him ride his bike into the grass and half-crashing into the lawn, managed to walk right off his bike. He glanced up at the window to see my mom. The phone rang so she walked away from the window.

Sheepishly he quickly made his way into the house and down the stairs to the basement bathroom where he and the cool toilet bowl became fast friends for a few minutes.

This is where I come in. I had just arrived home from someplace and headed into the basement. I could hear my mom talking to someone, it started out serious but soon I could hear her holding back laughter and a few chuckles broke free.

I decided I should gather more information, so I sat quietly on the steps of the basement stairs. I heard my mom busily dialing the rotary phone and then hushed words, followed by busting-a-gut laughter.

Forgive me sister for I have sinned

My brother made his way from the basement bathroom to the stairs. He could hear my mom laughing and wondered what was going on. He was nervous, so I knew he had done something.

Slowly he told me what had gone down. Every so often his eyes would drift to the ceiling above as my mom moved around the kitchen talking and laughing.

Still green in color, I suggested he get a bucket and get ready because mom must know something was up. My advice- fess up and tell the truth. To which he nodded and steadied himself and went up the stairs.

Well, what do you have to say for yourself?

Opening the kitchen door, Jason walked into the kitchen. My mom had hung up from her phone call. A stern look in his direction let him know mom knew it all. “Well, what do you have to say for yourself?” said my mom.

From there, Jason delivered the whole sordid truth. I remained on the basement steps, hand over my mouth trying not to laugh. Mom clued Jason in on the phone call from Tuenis as well as a “chat” with Randy’s mom.

Once mom had finished scolding Jason, she invited him to lay down and rest. Adding that Dad would have a talk with him later. I just chuckled to myself and prayed for Jason. My dad was a smoker and I hoped he wouldn’t re-introduce the “art of smoking” to him that night.

That’s my story friends, and I’m sticking to it! Here is to great food, fun family memories and and very good life.

summertime, summer fun, memories

What We Love About Summer

We’re taking the week off. Here’s a post from summer 2019.

What Memorial Day is All About

And now, for the Fun Stuff Back By Popular Demand

Though we may live in different parts of the United States we wanted to share with you what we love and enjoy about summer from the prairies of Minnesota to the seas of Georgia!  We hope everyone is looking forward to warmer weather!

What do you like best about summer?

Mandy: As a child growing up on a family dairy farm, summers weren’t really that great. If we weren’t in school, we were working on the farm. Some of the things we did were, Picking up rocks, baling hay, managing two large gardens. I did enjoy sitting on the porch snapping peas with Grandma though. (In retrospect, summers were awesome.) My friends all thought I had the life and now I wish I could have raised my kids on the farm. What I did enjoy were cattle shows and church camp. Wonderful memories were built at these places. If you are interested, check out my Memoirs blog posts,

Now the seasons pretty much run together and summers in Savannah are pretty hot. I try to stay home and cool. I’ll tell you what my kids love to do though … The Beach. Here’s a post after we rented a beach house for a week. For me, I much prefer the fall. 🙂

Michele:  What I like best about summer is the ability to be outside and enjoy the sights and sounds of birds, green prairie, crickets, frogs, the Blue Heron in the creek, kittens playing in the barn, gardening. Go walking, biking, having campfires, late-night patio star gazing… ahhhhhh!

What is your favorite childhood memory about summer?

Michele: My favorite childhood memories of summer are the Friesland Band Concert and Pie Social.  Every Tuesday night.  Pie, ice cream and the grocery store was open.  Plus Trotz’s had their sno-cones and popcorn that they sold out of their garage! YUMMY

Mandy:  Ah yes! After my family moved to Wisconsin, we attended The Friesland Band Concert every Tuesday night also Those really were the days. I don’t remember sno-cones but someone sold cotton candy. Our 4-H club sold pie and ice cream on one of those Tuesdays.  And, don’t tell anyone, it was where I got my first kiss. 🙂 Also, July fourth was a really big deal with fireworks behind the church.

The early years in Ohio, were just plain good, running and playing on the farm, even if we did have to do chores. I always loved attending family camp. The girls got to go and stay all week. We “helped” Mom run the bookstore at camp. Dad and the boys, went back and forth to milk the cows and come to camp for as many services as they were able. Those were the days for me, especially since that is where I gave my heart and life to Christ.

My favorite summer was made ironically because of a tragedy. In February of 1970, we had a barn fire. The cattle were saved but the barn was a total loss. That summer the Amish came and built the barns back. You’ll find my story on my memoirs blog, Raised in a Barn, My  Most Unforgettable Summer.


What family traditions do you have during the summer?

Mandy: Memorial Day was always the day we headed to my father’s original home of George’s Run, Ohio to the annual Hukill Family reunion. (my great great grandmother & her siblings started this way back.) Though one of us kids usually got sick riding up and down the hilly roads, once we arrived we had a wonderful time with cousins, aunts and uncles, and my great grandmother on Aunt Julia’s farm. My great Aunt Mildred, made the most delicious “dumplings” though they aren’t anything like what we call dumplings down here in the south. I sure wish I knew how to make them. And there was always ice cream cones. Yummy! Here’s a post on my memoirs blog on How to Spend Memorial Day

I love all the festivals every little small town seems to have. I think you could probably find one every summer weekend if you tried. Let’s see, in Georgia, there’s

In Wisconsin, I enjoyed the Korn Kanival in Randolph, WI and the Watermelon Festival in Pardeeville, WI. (Yes, you read that right – Pardeeville – Founded by some guy named Pardee). I already mentioned the family reunion on Memorial Day above which still happens today but they meet at the church nearby.

All the greats have gone on to heaven, but it’s good to see the cousins again. And that Korn Karnival happens on Labor Day Weekend.

festivals, fairs, summer fun
Alice in Dairyland at the Korn Karnival

They would steam the corn in the shucks at one of the canning factories and bring it by the truckload to the park. Then dump it out on a tarp on the ground. Peel back the shucks and dip it in melted butter. Oh, my goodness, it’s to die for.

Michele:  Both, Brad and my families are not big on traditions/getting together, so we pretty much just float and see what the day brings us.  We work on different projects and then cookout.

What are some favorite food and drinks in the summer?

Mandy: I always enjoy grilling out in the summer. (We do it all year in Georgia) Shaved Ice and lemonade can really hit the spot. As a kid, I would take a rootbeer float any time it was offered. And on that note – homemade ice cream – my favorite! As you have figured out by now, I am a big fan of ice cream. I got that gene from my dad! 🙂

Michele: I love to make sun tea, do lots of grilling of foods, smoking chicken wings, eating on the patio.  Ice cream is a favorite, but I enjoy ice cream all year around.

What’s your favorite Memorial Day or Labor Day?

Mandy: They are both good days just to hang out with family. I love when the kids come over and we grill steaks, make homemade ice cream and play board games. There is nothing better than hearing the laughter of my children around the table. Sublime.

And don’t forget the Fourth of July. We still have the same format except we add in the fireworks.

.. and our oldest son’s birthday!

Michele: I like Labor Day best… celebrating the end of summer, tomatoes coming out of the garden, our good friends usually spend the weekend, and it means FALL is on its way!

Finally, any special events or trips in your summer 2019?

Mandy: No plans really. We’ll be here in Savannah, Georgia. We live just outside of Savannah, in Pooler, near the airport and right at the intersection of I16 and I95 so if you are headed to Florida, please stop in or give us a call and we will meet you at any of the hundreds of restaurants or the Tanger Mall.

2020 Update, we moved closer into the city in the Georgetown area of town. Still not far off of I-95

Or just come to Savannah. We’ll take you on a tour of the historic district. Savannah has quite a history. I learn something new every time we take the tour. After that, we can spend a day at Tybee Island and enjoy a quiet day at the beach.

Sorry, the beaches are closed this COVID summer. 🙁

I don’t have an extra bedroom; however, AirBNB’s are available nearby… even one right in our community. A whole condo, all to yourself. And a community pool. My roommate from my single days is coming this week! When are you coming?

Michele: No special plans for summer trips.  We will be finishing up our barn project, installing new doors, stain, and varnish… and don’t forget the trim work… it never ends when you own a house.

Well, folks, that’s about it for now.

We would love to know what you love about summer and what plans you have. Please leave a comment below.
Here’s a thought: leave us questions to answer in our fall edition of About Us.
Mandy & Michele
image created by jfredrickdesign

FMF: My Homes Before Now


I’m participating in the Five Minute Friday challenge to write on a prompt for five minutes. Kate said “Before”.

It’s Time to Move

We recently learned that our townhome was to be put up for sale and since we weren’t in the position to purchase, we find ourselves having to move to a new place. We have found a place now but have a few weeks yet before it will be ready for us to move in.

This townhouse was such a Godsend for us. Being music lovers, we were thrilled to find that it was in the Harmony Community. A scripture that confirmed it as our home was Psalm 133:1

How wonderful it is, how pleasant, for God’s people to live together in harmony!

Harmony Townhome

I did some counting to see how many places I have lived before now. Yikes! It looks like this will be home number 17!

“So where did I live before?” you may ask. “I thought you were a farmer’s daughter. That doesn’t seem to be something that would move around a lot.”

Where did I live before?

Well, I’m married to a pastor. It turned out that we moved about every 3-4 years. Sometimes, we moved into temporary housing until we found something “Permanent”. Here are the places we lived before now.

  • 1990 Barnesville, GA (just south of Atlanta)
  • 1990-1992 Rossville, GA (Just south of Chattanooga, TN) [2 homes]
  • 1992-1997 Savannah, GA
  • 1997-2003 Milwaukee, WI
  • 2003-2015 Moultrie, GA [2 homes]
  • 2015-present Savannah, GA [retired]

Before marriage, I worked in Columbia, SC

I moved into an apartment for a year, then housesat for a summer before moving into a house with 2 friends. All about the same year our lives went in different directions. I met Michael, so I moved in with a friend until the wedding.

As a Farmer’s Daughter

It seems odd that we would move around as dairy farmers but it did happen. When Dad graduated from Ohio State University, he became an agriculture agent in Wooster, OH for a few years before returning to the farm with Grandpa.

Before I was born, my parents, brother, and sister moved into The Bishop Place, adjacent to the home farm place. Grandpa had purchased this as a rental property. We lived there about 3 years until the Kyle farm was rented, where we stayed until moving into the homeplace farmhouse in 1966 or ’67. This house has the majority of my childhood memories, especially since it was my grandparents’ home before it was ours.

Ohio Farm
Ohio Family Farm
Wisconsin Farmhouse

We moved the farm to Wisconsin in 1975. And the home farm was sold at that time. It was never an active dairy after that. The barns have been gone for years. Just this month, we learned that the house was being torn down. It’s sad because it had a lot of memories for all of us and it really was quite a historical home as well. (First farmhouse with electricity and running water west of the Alleghanies) Mom and Dad gave me some details which I shared on my memoirs blog. CLICK HERE

Mandy Farmer

P.S. I lost track of time. Kept getting interrupted. 🙂

Granny Hen

Granny Hen: The Giver

 “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” – Luke 6:38

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away…. ‘I am making everything new!’” – Revelation 21:4-5

We Never Know

Just over a year ago, my husband Skip and I left to go on a much-needed vacation. We packed the camping gear and the suitcases and away we went. Before leaving, though, we went to visit his mother, who was in a nursing home for physical rehabilitation after a long illness. It seemed like with each health improvement, there always came a new health problem. After our visit, she told us to have fun and to let her know when we got there. That was on a Friday. We left the following Monday morning. We never got to speak to her again.

Granny Hen - The Giver
Skip & Glenae with Granny Hen

She was taken to the ER that Monday afternoon and the family kept in touch with us. We continued our journey, reached our first destination, set up camp, and had supper. Just before bedtime, we got the call that she was gone. That moment is still very vivid in my mind. Feeling an urgency, we immediately packed everything back up and headed back to Mississippi for the difficult task of planning a funeral, while grieving, while comforting our family. Grief is hard and it is necessary at such a time, but God is our Rock. With that said, let me tell you about Granny Hen.

Grief is hard and it is necessary at such a time, but God is our Rock. #griefishard Click To Tweet

Tiny Magnificence

My mother in law was a tiny lady. In her prime, she stood all of five feet tall. In that tiny lady was a magnificent mixture of love (both tender and tough love), of fierce determination, a phenomenal work ethic, and endless generosity. All these virtues – and many more – flowed freely from her heart. She was always, no matter what the circumstances, a joy to be around, and I miss her dearly. We all do.

Her name was Bonnie, but when I met her, everyone always called her Granny Hen. I met her at Christmas time in 1984, a couple of months after Skip and I became engaged. She welcomed me with a big hug, and from that day on treated me as if I had always been part of the family. The meal she had prepared that evening was unbelievably delicious, followed with pecan pie that was scrumptious. As we sat around the table eating and talking over dessert, I asked her if I could have her pecan pie recipe. Without missing a beat, she smiled, saying “Mmhmm!” while nodding a definite yes. That was the first of many recipes she gave me.

Granny Hen – Wife, Mother, Grandmother

Granny Hen loved being a wife, a mother (of five children, all born in less than five years), and a grandmother. She loved to work in her flower beds and in the vegetable garden and with the fruit and pecan trees in the yard. She had the greenest thumb I’ve ever seen. Each year the yields from that yard would produce unbelievable amounts of veggies, blueberries, pecans and, a few walnuts, all to be frozen for the winter. There would be jars and jars of jellies, jams, fig preserves, tomatoes, tomato juice, pepper sauce, pickles, chow-chow … I’m sure I’m leaving something out.

A Gardener & Preserver

Granny Hen not only loved making it, but she also loved sharing it. She would box up dozens of jars of various canned goods, sending them home with friends and family. She would ship them to friends and family too far away to see very often. On many occasions, we would bring a cooler when going to visit and return home with it completely full of frozen fruits and vegetables. She was a lifesaver on grocery bills when we were raising two boys. I haven’t had to buy jelly or jam in over thirty-four years!

 Granny Hen with two of her daughters
Granny Hen with two of her daughters

Many years ago, in a conversation centering around her gardening and cooking skills and her generosity, I said something about the amount of sugar and jars and lids and such that goes into such a venture, and the cost of such. With twinkling eyes and her sweet smile, she said with joy, “It seems like the more I give, the more I get! God is good!” Indeed, God is good.

The epitome of love, joy, and kindness.

Over the years, Bonnie Atchison had battled much and overcome. She grew up poor in possessions, but rich in love. She married at the end of 1951; they raised a family. Their marriage and family was always full of love. Her husband went to heaven thirty years ahead of her. She had endured quadruple heart bypass surgery and recovered.

Many years later, she took a fall, had shoulder replacement surgery, suffered a major stroke, recovered, then fell again, resulting in a misplaced shoulder socket. The few years she lived after that displayed declining health and limited mobility. Despite those limitations, whether she was in the hospital, at home, or in a nursing home, her sweet spirit prevailed.

Granny Hen was always kind to her caregivers and generous with compliments and smiles. “The Hen,” (as some called her) was the epitome of love and joy and kindness. She was a remarkable woman. Was. Past tense. In the past. . .

Remembering Granny Hen

The drive back to Mississippi that night last October was long and sad. Planning the funeral was hard. Being with family was both hard and a comfort. Friends and loved ones who gave love and support were a comfort. My husband, a pastor who has done many funerals, spoke at his own mother’s funeral which was hard. Granny Hen’s pastor’s message at her funeral was a joy and comfort. He told of the way Christ shined from her being. In all this grief, we knew then and know now, that she is in the presence of our Lord and Savior. Granny Hen is free of pain and physical limitations. She is reunited with her loving husband and others who have gone on before them.

Granny Hen was generous. She gave of her love and her wisdom, her gifts and talents, her bountiful harvest, and herself. The memories we have of my dear mother in law are cherished and many. They are filled with wisdom, with love, with laughter, and with tears. Sometimes they bring tears because grief is hard. Sometimes they bring smiles and laughter because grief is not only hard, it is a strange comfort.

Often, he givGrief teaches us to remember, to ponder, to learn, to cherish, and most importantly, to go on. Of all the many things she gave us, the memories are the best, because within those memories lies all she was and all she taught us to be. Yes, grief is hard; it is necessary, and it is a teacher.

Treasure the good things

If you are in a time of grief in your life, I urge you to ponder the many things you love and miss most about your loved one. Treasure it all, but do not stop there. Go on. Live. Give of what was given to you. Share the love, share the wisdom, share the laughter, the tears, and the lessons. In it all, as hard as grief may be, let it come.

  • Cry.
  • Laugh.
  • Be silent.
  • Share.
  • Give.  
  • For that is the best way to honor them and their memory.

Treasuring my Mother-in-law;

Glenae Atchison

Last Chance to Link-up in October

legacy link-ups

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Fishing Rods, Hats, and Stuffed Bears

Fishing rods, baseball caps, and stuffed bears. This might sound to you like I am making a list at a thrift store or local Good Will, but I am not. These three items were the key ingredients for some hilarious, good, clean fun.

It was a crisp fall evening and I could feel some mischief in the air. I certainly was not a naughty kid, but I did like my fair share of mischief. Especially the fun kind of mischief.

Let’s put our heads together

My brother and I walked through the backyard to get to uptown. We found a couple of other kids hanging out and sat down next to them on the steps of Friesland Foods.

We were the kids that didn’t have older siblings in high school, so that meant we didn’t go to the football games. That also meant we had to find something to do.

Tony said he had an idea and would be right back. Tony returned a few minutes later with a fishing pole and a nice baseball hat. Most everyone just stared blankly at a fishing rod ( it was a VERY NICE fishing rod) and the baseball cap. Finally, someone asked Tony what he was going to do with a fishing rod and baseball cap.

Tony glanced around like he was going to reveal a big secret. Then he leaned into the group and said we had to go hide by the Post Office and he would tell us there. That got everyone’s attention. We all were excited at the possibility of what was about to happen next would be dangerous!

One for the money

Photo credit: Stux pixabay

As we all ran across the road, one by one we slid past the gate and leaned up against the west side of the Post Office. There in the shadows, Tony explained that “he” was going to trick people and “we” were to just watch. Tony began to tie the baseball cap to the fish rod fishing line.

Testing to make sure the baseball cap was secure on the fishing line Tony gave it three good tugs. Pleased with the baseball caps security he stepped from the Post Office shadows and walked carefully to the four corner stop of Main Street and Winnebago.

Pressing in the thumb button on the reel, Tony began letting out the fishing line. Once he had sufficient line out, he laid the baseball cap down in the center of the road and began to walk back towards the rest of the gang waiting in the shadows.

Little by little, he continued to let the fishing line out till he reached the side of the Post Office. Once he was around the gate he gave the signal for us to all crouch down.

Two for the show

It didn’t take too long and we heard a car coming down the hill. Eager to know what was going to happen we all found a place to watch through the gate.

The unassuming baseball cap sat quietly in the middle of the four corner stop. We heard the car stop and then slowly move forward. We were just beginning to catch a glimpse of the car when to our surprise and great delight, the car pulled slowly up to the baseball cap and stopped. Tony told us all to be quiet and pushed in the thumb button and held it.

We all held our breath as the car door opened. We could hear people in the car talking and laughing and then we could see the drivers hand reach out to pick up the hat. Tony gave the fishing line a little jerk, thus setting the baseball cap like it was a big catch. The result? The baseball cap moved enough to scare the pants off the driver.

The driver yelled in fright, slammed the car door and sped off. We were all rolling on the ground laughing as Tony continued to reel in the cap. But now we each wanted a turn to run the fishing pole!

Three to get ready

After some serious negotiations (promised candy, pop, and some Hostess Ding Dongs), Tony would allow us to each hold the fishing rod after we had given him the “promised” item.

Tony was no fool and you had to be on your toes when dealing with him or his brother Andy. Andy was a good wheeler-dealer as well. Sometime I will have to tell you about the time he won someone’s mothers inherited German Cuckoo Clock in a poker game. Let’s just say we all got in a bit of hot water playing poker and the “missing” Cuckoo Clock mysteriously reappeared.

After the first successful “trick” we got smart and added a few extra “insurance” measure. First, we needed someone to be a lookout for traffic. We posted this person at Cliff’s Electric. Once the person with the fishing pole was in place, the lookout would notify us when someone was coming and what direction they were coming from.

Secondly, we needed one more item to tie on the fishing line. It was decided that an old stuffed bear would probably entice more people. A baseball cap was just too guyish.

Four to go

Photo Credit: Stevepb pixabay

It was Lance’s turn to hold the fishing rod. A Hostess Ding Dong had earned him a turn. With the baseball cap in place, we patiently waited. It took a while for the next car to come along.

The lookout had given the signal and was on a dead run to the groups hiding place. Safely behind the gate we all watched and waited. The car pulled up to the stop sign. Hesitated for a moment and then slowly passed by the cap. SHOOT! They didn’t fall for it. We sent the lookout back and waited again.

The lookout gave the signal but he was waving his hand frantically. He began yelling “The other way! The other way!” we turned to look to our left and sure enough, it was a car coming from the left. We had not planned for any West- East bound traffic. We only planned for North-South bound traffic.

And then the wheels came off

Quickly we became greatly concerned that the car would ride right over the fishing line and possible park on it. We also acknowledged we wouldn’t be able to see someone reach for the baseball cap. RATS!

We hugged the Post office wall and the gate as tight as we could. After the car passed we leaned out to see if we could see someone reaching for the hat and we could NOT! Just then the driver’s door opened and we saw the fishing line move. Quickly Lance sprang into action trying to reel the line in but it was too late. The car door slammed and the driver stepped on the gas and the fishing line began to make a “zzz-ah-zzz-ah-zzz” sound.

Oh no! Lance’s fishing instinct told him to pull back and set the hook. But this Chevy Capri Classic going 30 mph and gaining speed was no match for some 60 lb boy. It only took a matter of seconds before the fishing pole was yanked from Lance’s hand into the air and dragging wildly down Madison street.

What a sight to see! Sparks flying from the fishing rod and the look of shock followed by hilarious laughter from each one of us. Wow! That was terribly fun. But wait… oh no… the fishing rod! The car was now exiting town and as it went over the railroad tracks we hear a “snap” and then silence. Guess the fishing rod met its final fate, snapped from the fishing line.

We gather here today in remembrance

Looking at Tony looking at Lance we detected that somebody was gonna be in trouble. Technically speaking it was Tony’s fishing rod- well Tony’s DADS fishing rod. But Lance was holding it last when it happened. Then again Lance did pay Tony with a Ding Dong to use the fishing rod so permission was granted.

Arguing these points as we all walked down to the tracks to retrieve the now-defunct fishing rod, Tony and Lance worked it out. It was Tony’s fishing rod so he would take the heat.

It took a while before Tony’s dad figured out he was missing a fishing rod. Well, let me correct that. Tony’s dad found the mangled one and put two and two together. Tony took his punishment like a man and soon we were all back downtown on Friday night with fishing rods, baseball caps, and a stuffed bear. Fishing for a whole lot of good clean fun.

book Review Lunch with lewis

If I Had Lunch With C.S. Lewis

If you could go back in time and talk with anyone, with whom would you talk? #cslewis #lunchwithlewis #bookreview Click To Tweet

My first desire would be to talk with one of my grandparents. I would love to sit on the porch swing one more time with my grandmother and, this time, talk about things that matter. I would ask her about the day she got saved. Perhaps I would ask her more questions about her life and my parent’s lives. Then definitely, I would be sure to ask for a few recipes.

If I were to choose someone outside of my family, C.S. Lewis would rise to the top of my list. I would want to dig deep into his brain and understand life better. I stumbled upon a book recently that caught my interest, If I Had Lunch with C. S. Lewis: Exploring the Ideas of C. S. Lewis on the Meaning of Life, by Alister McGrath.

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A Great Conversationalist

book review CSLewis
Book review #CSLewis #bookReview

What we may already know about him is confirmed on the jacket of this book. A few lunches with Lewis would be interesting in the least… possibly eye-opening and heart-revealing.

… his mind traveled through a wide and varied terrain: from atheism of his early life to his conversion later in life; from his rational skepticism to his appreciation of value of human desires and imagination; from his role as a Christian apologist during World War II to his growth as a celebrated author of classic children’s literature.

If I Had Lunch with C.S. Lewis by Allister McGrath

Who is Allister McGrath

McGrath like Lewis started out as an atheist. He wanted to go to college to study science and prove that God did not exist. He kept being pulled back to reading Lewis’ works until, he too, could resist Christianity no longer. Before he knew it he had become quite a student of Lewis to the point of writing on him in several articles, books and even a biography of Lewis.

He states in this book (Lunch with Lewis) that he likely wouldn’t want to ask questions as much as he would just like to thank him for his guidance all along the way.

A Synopsys of Lewis’ Books

This book discusses many of the writings of Lewis in the form of answering questions posed. To this point, I had only read The Chronicles of Narnia, Mere Christianity, and Surprised by Joy. “Lunch with Lewis” gave me a great amount of information and interest in several other books. I found myself often making a note “to read this book”. Indeed, I recall reading Mere Christianity and wondering to myself why I had waited so long to read it. Before I finished it, I was saying, “I must read this book again.”

"Lunch with Lewis" prompted me to read more of C.S. Lewis. #bookreview Click To Tweet

Questions Discussed in “Lunch with Lewis”

McGrath developed 8 different “lunches” with C.S. Lewis where he discusses different topics. Using the works of Lewis, McGrath shares what he believes Lewis would say to us about these topics.

on Friendship

Right off the bat, McGrath finds Lewis asking us more questions than we are asking him. But these questions are somewhat rhetorical, that is, they make us step back and think.

How are my friends influencing me? What task lies ahead of me that demands a community of support? How can I support my friends? Am I spending enough time and energy cultivating real friendships? And is friendship an end or a means—something good in itself or a good to be consumed?

page 52

Our Part in the Stories of Narnia

As you might expect, it takes more than one “lunch” to discuss Narnia. McGrath suggests that before we are even able to ask our questions about Narnia, Lewis would ask us, “Where do we fit in these stories?”, and leaving us with this thought…

The story we believe we are in determines what we think about ourselves and consequently how we live. For Lewis, Christianity doesn’t just make sense of things. It changes our stories. It invites us to enter into, and be part of, a new story.

Page: 78

Lewis as an Apologist

And what of finding the truth in Christianity? Many would say that C.S. Lewis was instrumental in bringing them to their faith. Lewis, also, credits other apologists for pointing the way for him. And so, Lewis challenges us to be apologists as well, so that, others may come to know God. We must find ways in our own era/culture that will connect with people in order to pass the faith along.

Christians can’t just tell one another that their faith makes sense. They’ve got to get that message over to their culture at large.

Page: 125

Other Topics Covered

And there’s more. More “lunches with Lewis” that I will leave for you to discover. To whet your appetite, let me just mention the topics of education, suffering, and the afterlife. All of these have excellent discussions you won’t want to miss.

What of Our Own Legacy?

This book is more than just “cliff notes” on a book. Lewis, through McGrath, challenges us to think and re-think your faith. More than just your faith, you will begin to consider…

  • What difference are you making in the lives of others?
  • What memories are you leaving behind?
  • Has our influence changed lives?

Remembered by God

Yet Lewis himself might helpfully remind us at this point that the most important thing is that each of us, whether remembered by others or not, is remembered by God. And that’s what really matters. Human history may forget about us, as it has forgotten so many. But our names are engraved on God’s hands, and written in the Book of Life—a fitting, even inspiring, thought with which to end our series of lunches with Lewis.

Page: 208

I suggest that you go find a few C.S. Lewis books and read them. If you don’t know where to start, start with “Lunch with Lewis“. Perhaps it will guide you to where you want to begin.

Reading to Strengthen What I Believe;

Mandy Farmer

I purchased this book and I am giving my own honest review on my own accord. *****

Written as part of our Summer of Legacies Series

Summertime Picnic Sack Lunch

Ah, summer!  We have all been patiently waiting for spring to show up, much less summer.  But I thought it would be good to bring some summer thoughts into our head.  One of the good things about living in my childhood town Friesland was its smallness( population 300, think Leota but a tad bigger).  I could bike all over town and pretty much be only be about 5 minutes from my house.

Round, Round Get Around, I get Around

I liked how safe I felt biking around, walking around, or just hanging uptown by the Band Concert Wagon (I will explain this in a post this summer).  Friendly folks who watched out for you and then the folks who tattled on you when you did wrong or THOUGHT you were doing wrong.  But, that’s how small towns go, and for good or bad it was all part of the experience.

One of my favorite things to do in the summer was to pack a sack lunch, grab a friend and go biking around town to find a spot to picnic. In order for one to really call it a picnic you needed your sack to have a can of pop (pop is translated to soda in Minnesotan), I liked RC Cola at the time, so my lunch would contain one can RC.  Then( and this was the SUPER important part) I would have to have a good dessert. Continue reading

Christmas Memories

the most wonderful time of the year

Photo Credit Free-Photos

Christmas memories are probably some of the most vivid memories I have.  There is something about being a kid that just engages all the senses and ingrains them deep in your mind and soul. My favorite memories all have to do with the “community” of Christmas.  Most everyone was into the “spirit” of the Christmas season.

At school, you practiced your part, memorized all the great Christmas hymns and some secular songs.  You ate lots of goodies that represented Christmas.  Pictures were drawn about Christmas, crafts made about Christmas.  Your Christmas program clothes and your Christmas pajamas.  Kids talked on the bus about what they thought they were getting for Christmas.  Some even went so far as to sneak peeks at moms Christmas present stash.

At church, you practiced Saturday afternoons for the big Christmas program that invariably someone either threw up or made the Christmas program director want to pull out her hair out. Christmas Eve comes and sleep doesn’t.  So many thoughts about what is under the tree?! And what fun you will have with cousins and family. And finally, you drift off to sleep and you wake up and… IT’S CHRISTMAS!

santa Claus is coming to town

You bolt from the bed and grab family as you go because no one can open any presents till everyone is there!  At last, everyone arrives in the living room only for mom to announce breakfast must be eaten first.  Good grief mom! What she doesn’t know is we polished off all the Christmas cookies last night before bed, there is no way any of us are hungry!  But rules are rules, so you go to your place at the table and you inhale your bowl of cereal.  All the while giving the “hurry up” eye to the rest of your clan.

Dad finally closes the feeding frenzy in prayer and it becomes an “every man for himself” as we leave the table.   Mom yells that all teeth must be brushed.  So, like a heard of wild buffalo we head into the bathroom.   A friendly boxing match begins for control of the toothpaste tube. Toothbrushes barely touching three teeth are thrown back into the drawer.  No one would be getting a star on their chart today for flossing, no sir!

I want a hippopotamus for Christmas

At last!  We are all assembled.  A scene from Norman Rockwell to be sure.  Eyes are wide with anticipation.  This is a pinnacle moment.  Hours have been spent pouring over the JC Penney’s catalog, the Sear’s catalog since September. Notes left, highlights made followed with arrows and circles so that Santa would not be mistaken.

Then, it is your turn to receive your gift.  Your heart is beating, hands are clapping in excitement.  You are ready to wildly rip off the wrapping paper and your mom stops you and tells you that it is polite to read the card first. You sigh.  The card envelope is opened, the card carefully is withdrawn and read. There, now the gift can be opened.  Paper flys and tada!  Yes! YES!  A Holly Hobbie General Store by Colorform.  I was in love. This is still the best gift I ever got as a kid.  I still wish I still had it! Check this out for some nostalgia:

It really didn’t matter what anyone else got, you just were happy with your gift!  Mom and dad sit on the couch taking in the sight of happy children at peace. Well… for the moment anyway.

God rest ye merry gentlemen

We always spent Christmas Day with the Syens family.  Grandpa Syens always held court in the living room with sounds of the football game.  The ladies gathered in the dining room, and like prison guards, they patrolled this area making sure the kids and the guys kept the fingers out of the food in the kitchen until it was officially time to eat.

Like rats, we kids would slowly make our way into the kitchen and steal nibbles. Sometimes we would receive requests from the guys in the living room.  Carefully we would sneak into the kitchen and make a plate of requests.  If we were lucky we could make it through the dining room undetected.

Once the meal was eaten we would gather to open our presents and then run off and play.  The ladies would begin the assembly line of cleaning up the table, dishes, and distribution of the leftovers.  The men would continue to watch the game or fall into a food coma.

do you hear what I hear?

Photo Credit Jill 111

I like to think that I have matured in my celebration of Christmas.  For me, it has become a time of reflecting on the past year.  Taking an inventory of where I am at- as compared to where I was.  Allowing myself and others room to make mistakes, as well as grace and mercy to make it right.  To remember we only have this moment, so love deeply and forgive generously.  Holding all my expectations, hopes and dreams loosely.  Love people where they are at, not where I want them to be.  Celebrating life’s beautiful things and the wisdom to view everything else in light of eternity.

Merry Christmas to you and yours!  May the joy of His season fill you and carry you throughout the next year.






Oscar Mayer Wiener Mobile

The Oscar Mayer Wiener Mobile!  Have you ever seen it driving its way around America? Well, I have not only seen the Oscar Mayer Wiener Mobile, BUT I HAVE RIDDEN IN THE OSCAR MAYER WIENER MOBILE.  WHAT!?  Yes, you read that right.  I did ride in the Wiener Mobile and it was my good friend Kristen Christian’s wedding party wheels.  Try to contain your jealousy, green is very unbecoming on you.

Photo Credit Michele Bruxvoort

This is how we roll

Imagine if you would… a wedding party of 10, rolling out of the church parking lot in the Oscar Mayer Wiener Mobile.  Complimentary Wiener Whistles were handed out by the Wiener Mobile drivers as we boarded.  Huh?  Wait a second.  Wiener Whistles?  No complimentary Oscar Mayer wieners on a bun!?  Graciously I took a whistle and joined the chorus, all the while wishing I had a deliciously grilled Oscar Mayer wiener.  Maybe kazoos would have been a better choice? Continue reading