The Barn

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That is not what the Barn looks like but that is what some people have imagined.  Actually it is an old barn down the street from the Barn.  My younger daughter has pretended to be stopping there to freak her friends out.  The Barn is a gift from God to our family. Today seemed like a good day to share the story of the Barn.

It all started in the fall of 2003.  I began investigating purchasing a weekend home which was so out of the realm of anything I ever thought I would be doing that it was surreal. My daughters and I decided we wanted a weekend house not too far away and with “land”. My dad had said you want “land”. Okay i want “land” but wasn’t sure what else I wanted or should look for.  I spent many hours searching the internet for “close by and with land”. Oh and it should have “stories” not levels but real stories.  the house should have character not something so new that there was no history but not so old that there was a lot of work. Okay we want land,character,doesn’t need work and kind of close by. Believe it or not, I found a farmhouse that I thought fit that bizarre list.  My youngest daughter and I drove to Sullivan County to meet a realtor and visit the farmhouse. Well, the farmhouse wsn’t it but the realtor was it.

And so began my adventure to finding the weekend house. I bought and read a book on how to buy a house.  Joanne, my realtor, and I visited all kinds of places.. No, that’s not it. No, that’s not it either. I wasn’t sure what it was but I sensed when I saw it I would know.  And then Joanne and I visited a converted barn with 14.6 acres of land.  I think this is it.  I am not totally sure what drew me to the Barn but I knew this is it.

 So began the next chapter, purchasing the weekend house.  I kept my “house book” close at hand. Made an offer, rejected, made a counter offer, house inspection, closing scheduled for April 1. My realtor, their realtor and I arrived for the walk through on March 31 and the house wasn’t empty. This was a weekend house for the sellers and no one had been here since May of 2003 so how can there still be food in the refrigator? I may know very little about purchasing a house but I do know this is not ready for sale.  And I also know that I am not closing on a house on April 1 – I don’t like April Fools jokes. So my lawyer gives them 30 days to get it together.  My daughters and I decide that if God wants us to have this house we will have this house.  And on May 5, I bought the Barn. I think it is funny that the closing didn’t happen on April Fools Day but it happened on Cinco de Mayo –  just makes me laugh.

So we call our weekend house the Barn because it is a converted barn and saying I have a weekend house just isn’t who I am. I have learned many things about weekend home ownership – things about decks, mice, no phone lines, new wells and frozen pipes, septic systems and attic stairs. I have also learned about myself and even more importantly I have learned about God. I have many stories.

I thought I would share one of those stories. One thing I knew I wanted at the Barn was a big farmhouse stlye table.  A table where many people could sit and eat and sit and talk and sit and play games.  The table would be the center piece of the room.  The Barn has a big table like that (photo at end). On Thanksgiving of 2010, both of my daughters and their guys, my sister and her family and my mum were all sitting around that table.  What a blessing! Thank you, Lord. I remember thinking I don’t know when I will have this again. Wow!! I love this all these people that I love around the table.  I thought I am so grateful and I am willing to wait with a thankful heart until I have it again.  And then I realized that God is willing to wait through all eternity to have all those He loves at one table. He loves us so much that He will wait.

Guess what – this past New Years Day I had my girls and their guys, my sister and her family and my bestest friend and her hubby.  Another blessed time around the table at the Barn.

PS. The “ladies from church” will be arriving in this afternoon for Ladies Time Out – a time of fun, food and fellowship, ladies just being girls. we usually hang out in our pjs and eat and laugh and sometimes cry.  God is so good.

What?!?

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It was September 2007 and I remember the phone ringing and it being Jennifer Adams from the September 11 Families Association.  She was calling to give me a “heads up” about a story that would be appearing in the New York Times the next day.  A reporter from the New York Times had been working on a story about Tania Head and as he was verify various facts some things didn’t add up.  The story being released the next day would report that Tania Head was a fake.  What!?!   Her story of being in the south tower and being one of only 20 people to escape from above the impact zone  was a fake.  And not only being a survivor but also of having lost her finance in the north tower. Really !?!  I mean really – she made it up.  She had burns on her arm.  She was the head of the survivor network. She did the tours for the “bigwigs”.  I had stood next to this woman while leading tours for the Tribute Center and shared my very real personal story and she had lied. Wow!!!

I was dumbfounded.  A friend said didn’t anyone check that her story was true. Well, why would someone lie about all of that.  Any of us who had a story would have been grateful to not have a story.  I felt betrayed but mostly I was heartbroken for those who had truly befriended her. I was heartbroken for the real survivors who had trusted her with their stories. I was also fearful of what would happen to the Tribute Center and the tours. It was a truly bizarre time.

As this book about her is published (& the possible media frenzy that will follow), would you please join me in praying for her “friends” and all those who have real stories.  There is so much about September 11, 2001 that is unbelievable but that someone would fake a story – that is unimaginable.

here is a link to the daily news story:

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/woman-explores-bizarre-tale-tania-head-article-1.1050614

it’s the little things

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It is the little things that God does in my life that make me smile and reminds me of His infinite love for me. Don’t get me wrong, He has taken care of some really “big” things in my life and I am humbled and awed. But for some reason that doesn’t surprise me because He is God.  He is able to do immeasurably more than I ask or imagine but it is when He does those little seemly unimportant things that I am reminded how very much He loves me. Today for example, I have plans this evening to meet with friends for pizza.  A few days ago, I had asked my friend what could I bring this evening and she had replied “chocolate.  A little chocolate is always nice.”  That is easy.  I have to be in the city on Friday so I will run in the chocolate store at the World Financial Center and pick up a few little goodies. Not!! The WFC is being remodeled and the chocolate store is closed.  Not to worry, I will come up with plan B. As a side note, there isn’t a grocery store in my town.  I have to drive 10 miles to the grocery store.  Well, I just didn’t feel like running out this morning so I thought there must be something I can make or worse comes to worse I will run in the grocery store when I head to the pizza gathering. So since I didn’t actually have anything that was “happening” today and wanted to be lazy I was still in my pajamas when the phone rang.  “Oh good you are home we are a few minutes away and want to stop by” This is a rare event because my house is not on the way to anywhere.  You can’t get there from here or get here from there – no seriously in the 28 years I have lived here “no one is just in the neighborhood”. I had a lovely visit with friends who I have been thinking about a lot lately but hadn’t had the opportunity to connect with.  Wow, so glad I was home. What a treat!  Speaking of treats I still needed a chocolate treat to bring this evening.  So I look on the internet for something chocolate that I can make with the supplies that I have on hand.  I don’t have the most well stocked pantry but this is where I got to see God’s provision.  I realized I had Nutella and I found a recipe that I thought maybe I would have all the ingredients for and I did.  It was amazing. I was struck by the realization that the creator of the universe is such a personal God that He cares about the smallest of details in my life. I am learning more and more that every single day God wants to reveal more of who He is to me and I need to slow down and let Him.

FYI: I made Nutella bites – yummy.

Recipe can be found at:http://stopnsmellthechocolates.blogspot.com/2009/10/would-you-like-chocolate-with-that_30.html

Spring or is it??

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Trees*

I think that I shall never see A poem lovely as a tree. A tree whose hungry mouth is prest Against the sweet earth’s flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,         And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in summer wear A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain; Who intimately lives with rain.  Poems are made by fools like me, But only God can make a tree.        Joyce Kilmer

I love living in an area of the country where we experience four seasons.  The beautiful colors of Spring, the long light filled days of Summer, the crisp colorful mornings of Autumn and the stillness of a good snowstorm in Winter. Today is a beautiful Spring day.  There is a blue sky with white puffy clouds and the colors of spring are breaking forth.  The pinks and whites of ornamental trees, the greens of the willow trees and the yellow of the forsythia paint a picture of life returning to the drab landscape after a long winter.  Except we didn’t have a long hard winter this year.  There is a sense that something is missing. A sense that we skipped a part of the seasonal story but also a sense that may not be a bad thing. I guess it is a sense of did we get off too easy, will there be a price to pay for not having a real winter, a waiting for the other shoe to drop.  Maybe it is a sense that this is too good to true – Spring without a real Winter.  I wonder does that actually happen. Well, in the meantime I am going to enjoy it. How about you?

* My husband’s favorite poem.  Actually I think it is the only poem he ever read 🙂

what time is it?

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I woke up at 3:30 this morning.  Well, it was 3:30 because I am in Seattle but it was 6:30 in New York.  Actually last week it would have been 5:30 since we hadn’t “sprung forward” yet.  No wonder my body is confused.  I find the concept of time to be fascinating.  An hour is always 60 minutes, and a day always has 24 hours but that can seem too long or too short or just right. When my daughters were young, there were days that were eternally long – would it ever be bedtime.  I remember one winter evening when my husband was on duty, bathing the girls early, eating dinner early and almost getting them in bed extra early.  My older daughter wasn’t old enough to tell time but she knew enough about time to know that the microwave reading “six – three – zero” wasn’t bedtime.  Oh silly mommy.  Of course in retrospect wasn’t that just yesterday.  Days may be long but the years are a blink of an eye.  I think of it this way when I was 5 years old one year was a fifth of my life but know that I am in my 50’s one year is a 50th of my life – no wonder it seems to go faster.

At summer camp a few years ago I decided to go with the Wednesday schedule on Tuesday.  I didn’t think that was such a strange concept. At camp, Wednesdays were called “wacky wednesdays”- a day of silliness and water games but it was supposed to rain on Wednesday so at Tuesday staff meeting I announced it was Wacky Wednesday. Oh my that freaked a few counselors out.  I said “Wednesday was so wacky that it showed up on Tuesday”. A counselor asked if “we were allowed to do that”.  I thought and replied “God makes the sun rise and we can call it whatever we want”.  The bottom line is a I don’t control the sun rising and setting but I have a say in how I use each day.

Time is an interesting concept.  It can be friend or foe.  I have often commented that the only thing that separates me from my deceased husband is time.  When I was diagnosed with breast cancer 4 years ago all I wanted was more time. When we are young, we want time to speed up so we can grow up but when we are older we want some days to slow down so we can savor the moments. One of my favorite sayings is “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift.”  Thank you Lord for this day – may I spend the hours wisely.

a few thoughts on friendship

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My birthday was a couple of weeks ago and one of my friends gave me the plaque that is pictured above.  I laughed when I saw it and then found an appropriate place to display it.  I have been thinking a lot about friendship and decided to share a few random thoughts.

  • Friends are a gift and should be treasured.
  • There a many friends you can spend a few hours with.There are fewer friends that you can spend the whole day with and still fewer friends that you can spend a week with.
  • A friend is honest but not hurtful.
  • “The only way to have a friend is to be one.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Friends multiply our joys and divide our sorrows.
  • “Gossip separates close friends.” Proverbs 16:28b
  • Sometimes you have to do what is best for the friendship not what is best for you or the other person.
  • “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”  John 15:13  When I had breast cancer, my friends “laid down” their lives for me.  They poured into my life in ways that were above and beyond.
  • Friends add different things to your life.  One isn’t necessarily better than the other. My FDNY widow friends understand things that not all of my friends can understand. We laugh about things that may seem inappropriate if you hadn’t walked in our shoes. My Tribute Center friends share an experience that is not easily understood and doesn’t have to be explained.
  • Not every friend needs to know or can be trusted with all the details of your life. An example would be Facebook friends. Social media is great but maybe you shouldn’t share that information with Facebook friends.
  • I think of friends as being in circles like a target or bullseye.  Some are closer to the center than others.  The inner circle is small.
  • Your friends have friends.  That doesn’t make them “less” of a friend to you.  Difficult concept for preteen girls.
  • Chatting with friends is great but friends who can be completely comfortable with  moments of silence are rare and few.

I am truly blessed with wonderful friends. I have my inner “circle”, and my close circle and then all those other circles that compliment and enrich my life. When I was teaching dance I would always say “within the four walls of this studio, you are friends.  I don’t care what happens when you leave but within these walls we will treat each other as friends and friends are a gift.” Guess what some of those girls became friends with people they never thought they would be friends with.

 This is a little off topic but I have been pondering the mutual respect that everyone at the Tribute Center has for everyone else’s stories.  We share a common experience and in many ways that is all we have in common but we respect and value each other.  I have been thinking as human beings don’t we all share the common experience of life.  Shouldn’t we all respect and value each other simply because we are people on the journey of life.

“said” this week

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a few random things that I heard or read this week.

funniest:  “so which button do I push to take a picture” said by my mom.  I got my mom a new cell phone because her first phone (that she never used to make a single call in 15 months) died.  The new phone has a camera. I mentioned  the phone has a camera but only showed her how to make a phone call.

read before but makes me smile every time: “Stop tweeting weird SH!? and clean your apartment” – the billboard I see as I drive up the West side of Manhattan.

what?!?: “bomb making is his hobby” heard on the radio.

 I totally agree:  “I figure fresh fruit covered in chocolate isn’t so bad for you!!” a Facebook message from a  friend who had sent me an edible arrangement.

touched my heart: “Dear Ann, Thank you for being brave and telling us your story about September 11th.  I wish I was there to help your husband.  I learned a lot of lessons, like never to use the word hate.” a thank you note from a 5th grader

gave me pause: “My dad was picked up by the police because they thought he was Muslim”  said to me by a high school student at the Tribute Center.

broke my heart: “my lymph nodes were cancerous”  said to me by a friend.