A Full Circle Story

My grandparents’ barn was built in Indiana in 1861, the year the United States went to war against itself.

Informative Image
This picture shows my grandparents’ barn long before they dreamed of buying it.

When I was born, in 1976, it was still standing.

Weathered and worn, that barn stood out by the road, marking the turn into my grandparent’s gravel driveway.

Every time my family made the trip from the suburbs of St. Louis, back to my mom’s rural hometown of Wabash, Indiana, we had a contest to see who could see the barn first.

Informative Image
The more my grandparents’ barn fell apart, the more beloved it became to me. People were endlessly looking for ways to get it fixed up. I felt like we had a lot in common, that barn and me.

Compared to the hazards of having to face going to school and trying to find a place to fit in, that barn was my safe space, where I did all sorts of dangerous things, such as:

Leaping over splitting planks, or the places they’d disappeared altogether

Staring through holes they left behind, down to the stone floor on the lower level

Climbing a wall of skinny, rickety slats – barely able to stick my shoes between each one

Looking up at the vaulted rafters supported by beams lined with resting birds

Admonishing myself, “Don’t look down. Don’t look down.”



Gripping tighter

Perspiring from every pore

Scared to go up

Terrified to go down

Horrified to appear afraid

Stretching fingers toward another wooden rung

Feeling air

Inhaling hard

Pulling my body across boards covered by decades of dust and bird dirt

Army crawling onto a loft with no rails

Dusting my shirt with filthy palms

Wondering what Grandma Woody would say about more laundry



Stepping forward, toes to the ledge

Sensing a strange mix of terror and elation shoot through my core, down my shins, and towards my fingertips

Reaching into the atmosphere high above the threshing floor

Realizing I was being too careful

Inching closer to the edge

Remembering the familiar warning from adults when I’d run out the backdoor

Repeating, “You kids be careful around that barn!”


Echoing again, “You kids be careful around that barn!”



Hearing my cousins down below, “Come on! Let’s Go!”

Trying to pretend not to be terrified

Regretting, as I heard them say some more, “C’mon, don’t be scared!”

Hoping they wouldn’t know I was a coward


Denying fear

Wanting to fit in – to not be seen as a city-slicker



Taking hold of the rope: scratchy, seemingly ancient, suspended by beams high above my head

Questioning silently, “Who tied this? When? How did they get all the way up there? What if it breaks? Why am I doing this?”

Determining not to think

Stepping off the edge

Swinging through the air


Thinking, the hay is too far away

Holding tighter to the rope


Losing strength

Gathering courage

Loosening my grip

Dropping through the air

Feeling my stomach leap into my throat as wind swept past my ears

Buckling at my knees

Collapsing in a heap


Thanking my grandpa (in my head) for happening to store that haystack right there beneath the rope

Brushing off dirt and debris


Weighing whether to do it again, or go back to the house

Knowing my grandma would fret to see the state of my clothes

Dragging straw into her well-swept house

Remembering that Grandpa Woody would be there, too


I’d like to tell you the story of that barn

I was at a funeral a few years ago, when someone said to me, “Can you believe it? That barn is like a full circle story?”

She was beaming, and I smiled back, glad for her joy; but absolutely broken-hearted for myself, and wanting desperately to hide that hurt.

In 2019, I set out to write the story of my grandparent’s barn. What began as one book has spiraled into a series. The process wasn’t pretty. I about electrocuted myself sobbing over the keyboard.

It wasn’t the kind of crying that’s pretty; but I know God has stored every tear.

What’s more, He’s taken the broken pieces of dreams I had for that beloved barn and made them into something beautiful.

I’d like to tell you how it happened and what He did in my heart during the process. Right now I’m getting the first book ready for publication.

Hopefully “About Trees” will be coming soon. Please subscribe, if you’d like to know when it is ready for release.

Thanks for reading what I’m writing,

Jody Susan

If you’d like to know more about my story, this post is a good place to start:


I'm not sure what to say here: I once got second place in a dog-look-alike-contest? I know how to fold a fitted sheet? I'm pretty much a poster child for social backwardness - at least as far as social media is concerned; but I have some stories I think I'm supposed to share and am attempting to do that here, in this space.

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