Maple Sugar Time in Ohio

Good Monday morning, readers,

Without further ado, Cassy Glass, you’re the winner of Cheri Swalwell’s book, A 40-day Habit Between Friends–Because They Need You. This is a great book of devotions for mothers. Thanks to everyone who posted a comment last week.

Last Sunday, I watched them tap trees, gather sap the old fashioned way in oxen pulled wagons, and then make maple syrup at Hale Farm and Village. This is a historical interpretive village near our home that demonstrates the early way to do everything. Since my current book A Plain Man contains a scene in which an Amish man makes maple syrup, the two methods are quite similar, because both use wood-fired evaporators. Did you know it takes 40 gallons of sap to make just one gallon of syrup? No wonder the price for the real-deal is so expensive. These days your usual pancake syrup is made from sugar cane or sugar beets or something other than maple syrup. But if you want the real deal for your family it’s still available. I bought some made in Geauga County, famous for maple syrup in this area. It’s superb! Ohio is the 3rd leading maple syrup producer in the United States. Vermont is number one. I’ve been to Vermont several times–yes, maple trees are everywhere! (I don’t remember #2, sorry, I took notes as fast as I could…) Hope you enjoy the photos of a very sweet morning. Have a great week, readers. And Happy Easter to you all!


Devotions for mothers–Welcome Cheri Swalwell for week two

Good Monday morning, readers. Last week’s winner of Vol. one is Sally Shupe. Thanks to everyone who posted comments.

Today we welcome author Cheri Swalwell back to Home Thoughts. Cheri wrote two superb books of devotions. Last week I featured volume one for wives and this week volume two is aimed at helping mothers. A 40 day Habit Between Friends–Because They Need You is a plan to enjoy your kids more, while helping them grow into people you want them to be. Here is taste of what’s inside: Day 22 ~ Apple Trees and Children “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” Deuteronomy 6:6-7 Cheri Swalwel photo

This spring, my husband and I were taking a walk around our property and looking at our apple trees. This is the first year we’ve seen blossoms on them, and I can’t wait to taste the fruit of his labor. We bought them approximately five years ago, and since then, my husband has been nurturing, feeding, protecting, and lovingly taking care of them in order to produce some great tasting apples. Feeding our family healthy food is important to us, and how better than to grow it ourselves, knowing exactly what was put into it in order to reap the results?

That got me thinking about how similar children are to apple trees. It took my husband five years of hard work before he started to see any fruits for his labor (literally and figuratively speaking). And, isn’t that how it is with children? When they are first born, they are helpless, completely dependent on their parents for food, shelter, protection, love, and security. They are weak, needing to grow bigger and stronger in order to be able to survive in the world on their own. And we as parents lovingly take on the challenge to provide for all of our children’s needs, without asking anything in return, knowing one day they’ll fulfill their purpose in life in part because of our hard work and dedication to helping them develop the traits necessary for a successful life.

Now, once the fruit starts developing on the trees, my husband can’t stop working. He has to continue to prune, water, feed, and protect the trees until they reach full maturity, and that’s going to take many more years. The same with our children. Even though they start to produce fruit and productivity in their lives at a young age (seen through kind words, responsibility of completing chores, and compassion toward others), they still have a lot of growing to do before they’re fully mature, ready to handle life as an adult. More sacrifice, hard work, love, and protection will be needed by us before our children are ready to step out in the world on their own, but again, we do this willingly, knowing the reward that’s ahead if done right.

So, today, I just want to encourage all us parents. When our children are little, we’re in the season of hard work. We have sleepless nights, demands on our time and energy, and lots of hands-on instruction. However, if we continue to provide the structure, boundaries, protection, and love required, there will come a day when we can sit back to enjoy the fruits of our labor. Just like my husband is looking forward to years from now when he can go and just pick an apple off the tree without having to nurture it as a seedling anymore, we’ll also hopefully reap the benefits of our hard work through a friendship with our kids and maybe eventually grandchildren. Until then, let’s all encourage each other together through the sleepless nights (both in the infant and teenager stages), puberty, endless homework, and high grocery bills. While we’re at it, let’s take the time to enjoy these stages since they’re fleeting and will disappear long before any of us want them too.

Cheri Swalwell is a wife, mother, and avid reader, but first and foremost she is a Christ follower. She has a degree in Psychology and has been blessed to be a guest on a variety of blogs including, Circle of Friends, and She is a regular contributor to book fun magazine. She loves to hear from readers on: Facebook:  Email: or Website:  (Has link to my blog) Twitter:  Cheri Swalwell

 Purchase Link: (paperback) ref=&tag=cheswaficfrot-20* for easy ordering. 

Please leave a comment for Cheri here after this blog posting for a chance to win: A 40-day Habit Between Friends–Because They Need You. Winner will be announced next Monday. Open to US and Canada residents.

Have a great week readers. If anyone will be near Wooster, Ohio this Saturday 3-23 I will be speaking at the Wooster Library on W. Liberty St. at 1:00. Would love to meet with some readers face to face.



Join me in welcoming Cheri Swalwell to Home Thoughts

Good Sunday afternoon, readers. Today I have the honor of Cheri Swalwell on my blog. Cheri wrote the best devotional books I have ever read. Today I’m featuring volume 1: A 40-Day Habit Between Friends–Taking it to the Next Level. This book of devotions is a must-read for any married woman. I asked Cheri to supply her favorite from the book and (honest-to-goodness) her favorite is mine too. If you leave a comment here I will draw one lucky winner to get my copy next Monday. It’s too good to remain on my shelf!

Here’s a sample of what’s in store in this book: Day 23 ~ Fresh Cut Grass or LaundryTaking it to the Next Level

I Corinthians 10:31: “…whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

I love doing laundry. Most people hate this chore, but for some reason I find it very relaxing. It’s even better spring through fall when I can hang it on the line during the day and save money on electricity. It also gives me a little extra time to myself since my children seem to scatter when clothes comes out of the washer. One thing about laundry, though, is it’s never done. There is never a time when the hamper is completely empty and that feeling of satisfaction sinks in.

I also enjoy mowing the lawn. Not only is it good exercise and gets me outside in the fresh air, but it’s a job I can do that stays that way for at least a few days, if not a week, depending on how much rain we get (or most of the summer this year thanks to the drought). I can look outside and feel good about completing a task that stays finished for longer than a few hours.

Isn’t marriage a lot like laundry and mowing the lawn? Both jobs are time consuming, but only one gives a return immediately while the other never seems to give a lasting return at all. In order to have a good marriage, a lot of time needs to be invested. During the dating stage, it’s a lot like mowing the lawn. Both people are appreciative of the little things done for the other, each is putting their best foot forward to impress one another, quirks are thought of as cute, and misunderstandings are forgiven immediately. The time and effort put in is looked forward to.

Then comes happily ever after. The wedding is over, the honeymoon is slowly fading from memory, and reality sets in. Kids come, repairs need to be made which require money that might not be available, and energy weakens. Now life is more like laundry. The same amount of effort is still required, but the rewards aren’t as long lasting. Maybe each spouse is exhausted from lack of sleep and hectic schedules, maybe grudges are being held over big and small issues, the cute quirks of the past are becoming annoyances, and neither person wants to get up from the couch during their favorite television show to clean up the flood in the bathroom from their child’s reenactment of the Titanic.

However, as I said above, I love mowing the lawn and doing laundry. I loved the dating years where everything was new and exciting, but I also love the sometimes ordinary and mundane aspects of married life as well. The rewards might not be as apparent as fresh cut grass, but they are still there and sometimes they are more appreciated for just that reason. There is the shoulder rub followed by a lingering kiss from the man of my dreams as he walks by when I’ve been working for hours or his decision to take time off from work so I don’t have to go to the doctor alone. And, he will get up during his favorite TV show to stop the remake of the Titanic in our bathroom before its final scene. There is also the shared laughter at private jokes during dinner while our kids look at us as if we’re crazy or sometimes me choosing to let go of my pride to work out a disagreement before it escalates into a full-blown argument. So which do you like better – mowing the grass or doing laundry? If you look hard enough, pleasure can be found in both.

Cheri Swalwel photoCheri Swalwell is a wife, mother, and avid reader, but first and foremost she is a Christ follower. She has a degree in Psychology and has been blessed to be a guest on a variety of blogs including, Circle of Friends, and She is a regular contributor to book fun magazine. If you want to hear more about the heart she has for marriage, parenting, and relationships from a Christian perspective, feel free to “like” her on Facebook: She loves to interact with her readers, so she would love to connect at or Facebook:

Website:  (Has link to my blog) or Twitter:  Cheri Swalwell

Purchase Link: (paperback) cheswaficfrot-20* for easy ordering.  Thanks, Cheri. Next week I will feature vol 2. which is aimed to help mothers. Have a great week readers. Don’t forget to leave a comment for Cheri HERE.

We have a winner of Miriam’s Quilt

Good Monday morning, readers,

The sun is shining in Ohio and it’s not snowing! So all is well. Without further ado, Elaine Panfill, come on down!! You’re the winner of Miriam’s Quilt by Jennifer Beckstand from last week’s contest. Elaine, you’re in for a great read! And it you haven’t done so, drop by Jennifer’s website for more chances to win Amish fiction. And don’t forget about my contest…I’m giving away 10 copies of Love Comes to Paradise to my newsletter subscribers on March 15th. That will be here before we know it.

This week I’m hard at work on A Plain Man, which picks up the story where Sarah’s Christmas Miracle leaves off. On Sunday I’m attending a maple sugar hands-on demonstration to make sure my story research is correct. The Internet only provides so much, then a writer needs to jump in her car to see the real thing. Besides, a pancake breakfast, swimming in maple syrup, is part of the demonstration. And you sure can’t get that from a computer!

Before I forget, if we have any new or want-to-be writers out there…I posted on a fellow writer’s blog about how I got published. Drop by Tamera Kraft’s blog for the full story:

Have a lovely week, readers. Stay warm.