"Wrestling with God" book with Barbara Falconer Newhall

Wrestling with God: Stories of Doubt and Faith

"Any seeker of any faith will be blessed to read the words of this fine author and observer."

Publishers Weekly, starred review

Click to learn more about "Wrestling with God"

My Ever-Changing Family

Our family shrinks and grows. People die. People get born. People get mad and won't talk to you for a while. Kids grow up and find partners of their own, and pretty soon there are brand-new in-laws.

Wisdom From My Father — Or, How to Sweep the Kitchen Floor

the barn on the farm where my father was born outside scottville michigan. Photo by Barbara Newhall

The Falconer barn near Scottville, Michigan, where my father, David Bishop Falconer, learned the work habits he passed on to me. The silo was built the year my father was born on the family farm, 1912. Photo by Barbara Newhall

By Barbara Falconer Newhall

My father’s voice came to me the other day as I was sweeping the kitchen floor. To his friends my father was Dave Falconer, to business associates, D.B. Falconer. He died in 1991, but there he was the other day, coaching me as I worked. Per his instructions, I made short, firm, methodical  sweeps, working my way around and around the room until I ended up in the middle, with all the kitchen debris corralled in a tidy mess at its center.

Years and years ago, in a little three-room cottage within breathing distance of Lake Michigan, my father assigned me the job of sweeping up the white beach sand our family had tracked in from the lake. I began the job aimlessly, pushing some sand around over here, creating a pile of sand over there. At the rate I was going, the job would never get done; that was clear to my father.

My Father Shows Me How

My dad took the broom from me and showed me how to go about a task — this task and the thousands and thousands of tasks, menial and mental, I [Read more…]


Something Old — Ten Ideas, Old and New, From a Mother of the Bride

Something old -- the cream colored pumps I wore for my 1977 wedding were too long and too narrow for Christina's foot. Photo by Barbara Newhall

Something old — the cream colored pumps I wore for my 1977 wedding were too long and too narrow for Christina’s foot. Photo by Barbara Newhall

Something old. Something new. Something borrowed. Something blue. — Old English Rhyme

By Barbara Falconer Newhall

I thought my 40-year-old shoes would make a perfect “something old” for Christina’s wedding trousseau in May. So did Christina. My wedding shoes couldn’t be more vintage but, given their boxy shape, my daughter and I thought they could easily pass for stylish in 2017.

Too bad that the shoes were too narrow for Christina’s feet. And my lacy 1977 wedding dress was too small.

As the mother of the bride, with lots of years to my credit (my past [Read more…]


One Broken Ankle, and Two Lives Grind to a Halt. Or, Why You Should Definitely Stop and Tie That Loose Shoelace

A 75-year-old man with his broken ankle in a cast in a hospital bed in his den with TV. Photo by Barbara Newhall

I rented a hospital bed to set up in the den, the room with the biggest TV. It’s not far from bathroom and kitchen. Jon’s non-injured leg was weakened by polio, so he needs that wheelchair and knee walker to get around. Photo by Barbara Newhall

By Barbara Falconer Newhall

Jon’s got a broken ankle — and a torn deltoid ligament. Life has ground to a halt for him. And for me. The orthopedic surgeon who stitched the ligament back in place says absolutely no weight is to be put on that foot for at least four [Read more…]


The Turkeys at Our House, Dead and Alive

A turkey roasted brown and ready to be carved. Photo by Barbara Newhall

Turkeys at our house: this one was delicious. Photo by Barbara Newhall

By Barbara Falconer Newhall

Hope you are having a great Thanksgiving surrounded by friends, family or both — of every political persuasion. As always there’s a lot to be thankful for, but today I’m feeling especially grateful for that most American of birds, the turkey.

Every year around this time a bunch of them show up at our house. One arrives in a shopping bag, all plucked and cleaned and frozen and ready to be stuffed. [Read more…]


My Ancestral Ghosts — Are They Haunting This Halloween House in Minnesota?

Could my ancestral ghosts be haunting this Halloween house in Red Wing, Minnesota. This duplex, built in 1920, probably replaced the house she lived in. Photos by Barbara Newhall

Could my ancestral ghosts be haunting this Halloween house? My three-times great-grandmother lived at this address on Third Street in Red Wing, Minnesota, more than 100 years ago. This duplex, built in 1920, seems to have replaced the house she lived in. Photos by Barbara Newhall

By Barbara Falconer Newhall

The maple, ash and elm trees were turning gloriously gold and carnelian in Red Wing, Minnesota, earlier this month. Front porches up and down neighborhood streets sported witches, spiders, ghosts, and fat, round jack o’ lantern faces trying hard to be scary.

As for me, I was hunting phantoms of my own. I was looking for my ancestral ghosts, one George J. Richards and his mysteriously named Dutch [Read more…]