Midnight Misadventure

Our hushed whispers seemed to ring out with deafening clarity in the cold, November night air. The barely suppressed giggles slashed through the sacred midnight silence. Along the street, darkened windows stared out at us from sleeping houses with grim, unblinking, and judgmental glowers.
On the very edge of Michigan in a tiny town called Morenci, there is a beautiful brick, one-story house. It is placed on a quiet road across the street from a large field of corn. The pretty little brick house has a large, grassy lawn around it and right out front is a tall, old, peeling, white sycamore. Its trunk has split and grown in two different directions, and each trunk is too thick for a grown man to encircle with his arms.
Upon entering this house, good smells assail the nose and warmth seems to surround the heart. This is my grandparents’ home. At Thanksgiving every year, our family all comes together and gathers at this house to celebrate God’s goodness and constant loving care. It is a happy time, cheery and secure, full of good things to eat and comfortable companionship, and most of all family. It is here that my story begins.
On my mom’s side, I have three cousins who are my own age. These cousins in particular have always been my best friends, for we share a bond that we always believed made us more than cousins. My mom is their mom’s younger sister, and my dad is their dad’s younger brother; to put it simply, sisters married brothers. This made my cousins and me more like sisters than merely cousins; therefore, it was always great fun when we got to spend time together. We were a mischievous four-some, and we were constantly getting into worlds of trouble, but it was harmless trouble, and I think our parents were generally more amused by our antics than upset by them.
At the time of my story’s beginning, I was in eighth grade; Kim was in her sophomore year of high school; and Wendy and Gayle, twins, held that most envied title of seniors in high school. Simply said, it was our last year as children. In a year, I would be entering that vast, and hitherto unexplored, realm of high school, and Wendy and Gayle would be leaving forever on the great adventure called college. We suddenly realized with the dramatic flare that children have, that we might possibly “never see one another again.” So it was decided, this Thanksgiving we had to have one final adventure, an adventure that would go down in history, an adventure worthy of the occasion.
There is a certain adventure that has really become more of a tradition over the years, a tradition that can only be carried out when we go to Grandma and Grandpa Porter’s house. Down the road, two blocks from our grandparents’ house, is the Morenci Baptist church. It is a small church; the congregation is composed of no more than two hundred people. The windows are stained glass and the pastor and his family live in a tiny, yellow-brick house, just next door to the church. It is a real-life, small town church, with all the traditional country-style hospitality and potluck dinners almost every week. However, there is one feature of this church that sets it apart: the bell.
The bell is not in a tower, it is set on a rectangular-shaped mound of earth that rises about three or four feet above the level ground. The bell itself is suspended in the air and attached to a great wheel, larger than a grown man. To ring the bell, one must turn the wheel, thus causing the bell to turn with it until it is completely upside down; and then the person must release the wheel, thus allowing the bell to swing back around and down, swinging back and forth and ringing several times before finally stopping.
Every time we went up to our Grandma and Grandpa Porters’ house, it was our tradition; my cousins’ and mine, to sneak out at midnight at least once during our several days’ stay and walk down to the church and ring the bell. This Thanksgiving was to be different though. We had determined that this time we would not simply ring the bell and run away, this year, we would ring the bell twice.


~ jenelle

The Beginning Reader’s Bible Illustrated by Marijke ten Cate

Everything I hoped it would be, and more.

This Bible is a little too advanced for my 2 year old, but she likes the pictures. It’s just that the ratio of words to pages is a little too high for her attention span yet. However, I have been super pleased with it so far and really can’t wait for her to be old enough to really appreciate it. This is going to be a great transition Bible for her, somewhere between her current Bible (A Child’s First Bible by Kenneth Nathaniel Taylor) and a complete Bible. (There may be some more steps in there, too, but those are the three steps we currently have.

What I like about this Bible:

It’s Big – which means that the pictures are big too :) and it feels heavy-duty.
It opens nicely, the binding is really quite nice.
It covers 26 different Bible stories (13 from each Testament) – most of which are the “familiar” ones, but a few that aren’t, like they cover Nehemiah and the birth of Samuel (titled “Hannah’s Special Baby”)
The illustrations are beautiful.
The text is straight out of the Bible. The verses are even numbered accordingly.

The only thing I “don’t” like about this Bible:
1. While the verses have numbers and chapters, which is a great teaching tool for getting used to how verses have “addresses” and how to find them in the Bible… and the verses are accurately numbered… the fact that the authors took certain verses out (to keep the stories short, to keep the stories understandable, to keep everything from being too wordy for a shorter attention span) this necessarily means that the verses may be numbered 8, 9, 15, 16, 17… which MIGHT be confusing to a child (Why did they skip from 9 to 15? Aren’t the numbers 10-14 important?)

That’s a pretty minor issue though, and may be all in my head and will never pose a problem for my child(ren).

The FTC demands that I disclose that I received this book through the Booksneeze blogging for books program. The thoughts and opinions are my own. The publisher and booksneeze did not ask for anything except an honest review. Therefore, I like the publisher and booksneeze better than the FTC, but I also like not getting fined by the FTC… so I include the disclaimer.

Thanks, Shannon ;)

~ jenelle

Poetry Corner: My Hideaway

I was perusing some older poetry I’d written (back in high school!) And I thought I’d share with you some of them. I’ll try to post Poetry once a week… if someone can think up a nice alliterative title for me that’d be awesome… the only thing I’m coming up with is “Metrical Composition Monday,” which I’ll go with if need be, but it’s a little bit awkward…

Anyway, first poem installment:

Welcome to my Hideaway 3-24-97

High upon a mountain peak,
Beside a rushing stream,
Chinked with mud, a roof that leaks,
The house of my own dreams.

Where only eagles fly,
On a mountain’s lonely peak,
Able to touch the sky,
And with animals alone, to speak.

This beautiful little cabin,
Nestled in a nook,
And only I and the mountain,
Know just where to look.

From all else as if not there
Life goes on below, all well,
While only a few might dare,
To find my secret “Rivendell.”

~Jenelle Schmidt

~ jenelle

Second Picture Story Saturdays

Alright, it’s about time someone posted on Saturday – even if nobody will read them because nobody reads blogs on Saturday – !

I’ve been working on a book that is a compilation of short stories for… oh… about 10 years now. Which is sad. Of course, in that time, I’ve also graduated college, gotten married, had a baby, moved a few times, and completed four 100,000+ word novels, so maybe not so sad… anyway, thought I’d share some snippets with you all… and start a regular posting habit (because I’ve neglected this poor writing blog for FAR too long).

So… here’s the story of the inspiration behind my book of short stories:

Second Pictures Stories

     I got the idea for this book at a birthday party for an eight-year-old boy. His name is unimportant, for most of the names in this book have been changed to protect the innocent. And anyway, this is not a story about this particular young boy’s birthday party, so much as it is about a singular occurrence within the birthday party that gave me the idea for the title of this book. Something struck me when the father of the birthday boy told all the kids to get together for a picture: he said something that sounded so familiar it made me smile and almost laugh.
    “We will take two pictures, okay? The first one has to be good. You all have to stand still and smile, no bunny ears or silly faces. Then we can take a second picture and you can do whatever you want.”
    How many times had I heard those words? How many times had I stood impatiently through the “good” picture so that we could get to the “wild” picture? And oh! How incredibly long it had always seemed. The “good” picture always seemed to last for an unbearably long time. I stood back and watched as the father took the two pictures. The pictures were snapped and the two moments were captured for all time in the film of the camera. I smiled, there was no doubt in my mind as to which picture would be sent to family and friends.
     The picture that would surely go into the family albums and be brought out to show to friends was the one where all the children were standing politely in two rows and smiling beautifully like little angels. However, it was the second picture that most accurately portrayed the reality of the children at the party. In the second picture each child twisted his or her face into the most grotesque image possible, then he grabbed his neighbor’s throat and jumped up into the air. The light flashed as the second picture was taken, capturing for all time the wild antics of these young children.
     That picture would be taken out as well as the first one, and everyone would laugh over it in a few years. The children would be grown up and laugh at it too, wondering if they had truly ever been so silly. Yes, they would laugh, but deep in their hearts, they would remember the glorious beauty of childhood, and they would each secretly long for such a time again.
     And so, this book is a compilation of “second picture stories,” stories that reveal the true nature of childhood. These stories are exclusively about children, some of them young, some of them not so young. Some of these stories really happened, some of them are from friends, and some of them are even drawn from my own childhood, but it does not matter whether the stories are true or not, or which ones belong to who, what matters is the smiles that they bring. What you do with these stories is entirely up to you, but I would hope that they would help to inspire memories of laughter and fun, and remind us all of a time when we were just a little bit younger, a little bit less mature, a little bit more innocent, and a whole lot wiser.

~ jenelle