"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

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A Lost Child in Wartime Detroit — A Headscarf Story

the story of a lost child in the old crowley's department store. File:Partirdge & Blackwell.jpg (category Department stores in Michigan) & Blackwell Department Store in Detroit, Michigan Date 1910 Source Library of Congress-Prints & Photographs online catalog Author Detroit Publishing Company

I was a lost child in a dark and cavernous department store like this one in downtown Detroit. The store might have been Crowley’s, shown here in 1910 when it was still Blackwell’s. Photo Courtesy Library of Congress. Author Detroit Publishing Company.

By Barbara Falconer Newhall

When I was a little kid, three or four years old, during World War II, my mother had a yellow babushka. That’s what we called headscarves in Michigan, back in the ’40s. Babushkas.

My mother wore that yellow scarf whenever she went out into the winter cold, but I couldn’t see the point of it. It was a triangular, crocheted thing that went over her head and tied in a half-knot under her chin. It had big gaps, holes, between its soft strands of crocheted yellow cotton.

If I wanted, I could slip two or three fingers through the holes [Read more…]

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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…]

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The First Presbyterian Church of Birmingham, Michigan — Last Stop on My One-Woman Road Trip

Facade of the First Presbyterian Church of Birmingham, Michigan. Photo by Barbara Newhall

Photo by Barbara Newhall

By Barbara Falconer Newhall

It had been a wonderful tour around Michigan’s lower peninsula. Just me, a full tank of gas, and my trusty point-and-shoot. And now it was over.

Grosse Pointe. Pentwater. Ludington. Traverse City. Howell. And finally, [Read more…]

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Breathing Lake Michigan — Ludington to Traverse City

View of Lake Michigan from the dune outlook at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Michigan. Photo by Barbara Newhall. Barbara Falconer Newhall travels up and down Michigan's lower peninsula, visiting friends and family and putting on book events for "Wrestling with God."

This 10,000-year-old dune at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore near Traverse City rises about 600 feet above Lake Michigan. A sign discourages visitors from doing what this man is doing — descending the hillside. Climbing back up takes even the fittest of climbers a couple of hours. Notice the curved horizon. The lake is big, 100 miles across, and it seems my camera’s wide lens captured the Earth’s curve — or did it distort an otherwise flat horizon? Photo by Barbara Newhall.

By Barbara Falconer Newhall

The best thing about going on a road trip all by yourself is — you can brake for a photo op any time you want.

I invited my husband along on my 12-day sojourn to my home state of [Read more…]

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Mason County, Michigan — My One-Woman Road Trip Takes Me to Falconer Country

Windmills outlined against the sky of Mason county, Michigan, farmland. Photo by Barbara Newhall

Mason county, Michigan, farmland with one of the recently installed windmills. Photo by Barbara Newhall

By Barbara Falconer Newhall

The Poet of Mason County

My father was a bit of a poet during his college years. The flyleaves of his undergraduate textbooks are riddled with his farm boy syntax and off-kilter meter.

Money was tight for families working the sandy soil of Mason county in the 1930s. But that didn’t stop my father from going off to Michigan State College — now Michigan [Read more…]

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