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30 October 2009

October Photo Challenge

Mission accomplished! I finished the October Photo Challenge. What fun! Working on this photo scavenger hunt helped me to look at the world with entirely fresh eyes. Thanks to my kids who loaned their ideas and opinions too. I look forward to participating again in the future!

1. A Fall Activity-
Volleyball! We watch a lot of volleyball in the fall. This shot is of the JV1 team in the finals of a recent tournament. They won!

2. A Fall Treat-
Homemade Apple Cranberry pie. Yum!

3. Harvest-
Here in the "Heartland," I only have to drive a few minutes to find fields, but I had to search a bit to find an actual harvest! I was on a quest, traveling over dirt roads and through acres and acres of fields before I finally spy-ed these farmers at work.

4. Leaves-
Would you believe that this shot came from the median of the shopping mall parking lot? Doesn't it look like it should have been from a dry river bed?

5. Fall Colors-
This shot was taken in downtown O, just before sunset.

6. Something Orange-
Nobody stacks vegetables as artistically as Whole Foods...

7. Something Spooky-
HA! This photo makes me laugh! We tested this guy to see if he was going to move because of motion detection sensors or the like, and he didn't. So I asked K to put his arm over her shoulder for the picture. When she lifted his arm, he most unexpectedly began to move and talk to her! Talk about surprised!! See the lady pushing the cart? She kept walking like she didn't hear the blood-curdling scream my daughter let out...

8. A Cemetery-
I hate walking through cemeteries. I hate taking pictures of cemeteries. I would have NEVER gone to a cemetery if not for this challenge. But, I have to confess, gravestones are kind of interesting. Look at the stone- they used to put pictures on them... What photo would you choose for your final marker?

9. A Costume-
My preference would be to put this photo under "something spooky." The King creeps me out. But trying on the mask was too good a photo opportunity to pass up.

10. Black and white photo-
My girls at a birthday lunch.

11. A Critter-
Our dog, Dillon. After looking at this photo, my husband commented, "He looks sad." He probably was, because I kept making him sit, and stay, for the photo... I really did try to take a picture of the squirrels that pelt us with nuts, but they neither sit nor stay.

12. Symmetry-
Thank you Whole Foods.

13. Contrast-
Older. Younger. Big. Little. Smile. Serious. Light. Dark.

14. Texture-
A craggy tree trunk.

15. Logo-
At our favorite store...

16. Something Neon-
I took this photo at first during the day. I went back the next night. Ya gotta take a neon photo at night!

17. Something inspiring-
This is the most beginner ESL (English as a Second Language) class at our church. In this class are folks from Mexico and Guatemala and Sudan. Men and women trying their darndest to learn this very confusing language we call English. And a couple of sweet teachers, truly acting as servants and showing love in action towards them. We meet every week, and every week, I leave inspired.

18. Something Entertaining-
I took this shot while playing Life with my girls. I didn't notice until later that it had the "Entertainer" card in it, too... Bonus!

19. Something fast-
Ok, so really this photo should be titled "Something blurry," but honestly, they were too fast to get a good shot, and fast is fast, right?

20. Something Slow-
...because what says "slow" more than molasses?

Be sure to check out the other October Photo Challenge entries!

29 October 2009

Kabul 24

“Free books.” That is a phrase that is veryvery difficult for me to pass up. And so, with the promise of receiving free books, I have become a book review blogger for Thomas Nelson Publishers. I have just finished the first book offered- Kabul 24 by Henry O. Arnold and Ben Pearson.

“The thick, blue cotton fabric was little protection from the sting of the whips and the blunt strikes from the wooden rods on her body as she stumbled along the dusty streets of Kabul…” From the first page, readers are quickly moved into the always oppressive and frequently violent world of Afghan life under Taliban rule. Kabul 24 tells the story of the arrest, 105 day imprisonment, and dramatic rescue of 8 Christian workers from Shelter Now International (SNI) in 2001. As the prisoners, a group of men and women, young and old, of varied occupations but of one call- to serve the oppressed of Afghanistan, are captured, and then begin the torturous wait of hope for rescue, readers are dramatically reminded of how very different the extreme Muslim culture is, and of how little respect for human life and dignity it allows. Yet despite conditions and suffering unimaginable by American standards, the source of hope for the prisoners remains clear, hope in God to provide through the unexpected and the unlikely.

Kabul 24 begins in the weeks prior to 9/11, and continues through the first days of the US/Afghan war. It is in that highly charged setting we gain appreciation for the extreme oppression common under Taliban rule. Human rights abuses are frequent. Prison conditions are inhumane. As a reader, I struggled with the hostages to examine where would my strength lie under such conditions. To read of the hostages abiding faith in God, as they were composing songs of praise, continuing in study, and constant in prayer, was an encouragement to me.

My primary frustration with the book was that it seemed mis-titled. There were indeed 24 hostages, 8 Westerners and 16 Afghans, but the story focuses primarily on the 8 that were imprisoned separately from the Afghan 16. I wanted to know more about the story of the 16. The book also refers to a Taliban informant, the “Afghan angel,” crucial to rescue of the westerners, and I wanted to know more about him. I wanted to know more about how their story ended as well.

Overall, I would recommend this book to others, particularly to those with an interest in non-fiction and those desiring to learn more about conditions under Taliban rule, an increasingly relevant topic in world events today.

26 October 2009

Taking risks

"I am certain that the world outside is not going to pay much attention to all the organized efforts of the Christian church. The one thing she will pay attention to is a body filled with this spirit and rejoicing. That is how Christianity conquered the ancient world. . . . I am exhorting you in this evil world in which we find ourselves that if you really are concerned about it, . . . then it will be your duty to become a person such as is depicted here, because this is the only thing that is going to persuade men. They say, 'Oh we know your teaching and preaching, we have had it all before,' but when they see it in operation they will listen because they are miserable and unhappy." (Joy Unspeakable, Martyn Lloyd-Jones).

Andree Seu and risk taking. Read the entire article here.

25 October 2009

"Woman, why are you weeping?"

Commenting on Mary Magdalene at Jesus' tomb (John 20:11-18), Matthew Henry writes:

We are likely to seek and find, when we seek with affection, and seek in tears.

Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible

(art credit: Noli Me Tangere, Armand Bertrand, inspired by Fra. Angelico)

22 October 2009

3 Things Thursday

1. I was up and out Early this morning. I took a friend and her kids to the airport. Her dad died. It's no good to take the shuttle to the airport when you are traveling because your dad died. You need a hug before you step into the chaos of the airport when you are traveling because your dad died.

But oh my, it is a blustery morning! The rain comes down, rather sideways, almost horizontal at times, due to the wind. Leaves cover the streets, falling perilously from branches that cannot hold onto those little sheets of color one moment longer. Gutters run rapidly, and the constant dripping outside plays metronome on the roof. Reminds me of lyrics of songs from days past...

A Rather Blustery Day
lyrics by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman

Hum, dum, dum, dee, dee, dum
Hum, dum, dum
Oh the wind is lashing lusterly
And the trees are thrashing thrusterly
And the leaves are rustling gusterly
So it's rather safe to say
That it seems that it may turn out to be
It feels that it will undoubteadly
Looks like a rather blustery day today
It seems that it may turn out to be
Feels that it will undoubteadly
Looks like a rather blustery day today

2. Truthfully "blustery" could be the Weather Word of the Month. Looking back at the calendar, the little bright sun icon has only appeared three times in these last 21 days. Yesterday was yet another overcast day, and even so, the bright colors of fall seemed to cast a filter of glow over the gloom. In the last week, the changing hues of the trees have appeared so very vivid, technicolor against an otherwise gray screen. The metallic brights, gold and bronze and pewter, cast a sheen. The intense primary hues, yellow and orange and blazing red, almost glow, seeming to provide extra light on the otherwise deary day. I don't particularly look forward to the starkness of winter, of the bare branches, of the many shades of gray.

3. I never cease to be amused by the surprises that appear on my camera when I download my photos. Here's a sample of those that I did not take yesterday...

21 October 2009

the steadfast love...

"After the doldrums of flowers gone with the wind, and houses that remember us not, He lifts our sights to that which is the deepest cry of our heart—something that lasts. “He has put eternity into man’s heart” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)."

for the conclusion of Andree Seu's columns on Psalm 103 (v. 16-22)-
verse 16
verse 17
verse 18
verse 19
verse 20
verse 21
verse 22

19 October 2009


Those that pursue present things most eagerly, are likely to be disappointed; while those that refer themselves to the providence of God, if they have not the most, have the most comfort. Those that make this world their end, come short of the other, and are disappointed in this also; but those that make the other world their end, shall not only obtain that, and full satisfaction in it, but shall have as much of this world as is good for them, in their way. Let us then be contented, without those great things which men generally covet, but which commonly prove fatal snares to the soul.

Matthew Henry, Concise Commentary on the Bible, on 2 Chronicles



do I get email that tells me "Ine#xpensi_ve Medicationss are on Sale"?

has the political party that I am not registered for called me 7 times in one week?

was the sweet looking older couple I saw today walking their dog in a stroller (no kidding- the DOG was IN the stroller...)?

do people recreate cemetaries in their front yard this time of year?

is my dog obsessed with the mailman?

do four girls have to be in three places in one night?

am I compelled to take candy corn from the pumpkin jar every time I walk by?

did the parents think this was a good idea?


13 October 2009


Yesterday, my son and I spotted what could ONLY be the tail end of the Wienermobile ahead of us.

We almost caught up with it! But then the Wienermobile ran a Very Yellow Light, and we lost it. (maybe they saw us in their rear view mirror and were worried! HA!) So, these pictures are the best that we can do.

But it was very fun to chase the Wienermobile for a couple of blocks...

Did you know that you can track the whereabouts of the Wienermobile? And that there is more than one Wienermobile?
Go figure.

Tuesday Tribute- My Guy

This is my guy.
He fixes my computer. And he forgives me when I've messed it up so bad that he can't.
He makes me a latte every morning.
He plays the guitar so I can sing along. (ahem, well, neither of us are very good, but we like it anyway...)
He is still trying to beat me at Bejeweled. (I ruled Tetris too, back in the day, and he once hacked into the game to change the high score so it LOOKED like he beat me... He confessed quickly.)
He leads a fast tempo swing dance that makes me spin.
He encourages me, and reminds me when is too much.
He loves our family wholeheartedly.
He still asks me out on a date, and meets me at the front door with the car at the curb.
He makes me laugh like no one else.
We've been married 19 years today.
I love him more now than then.
And that's a sweet sweet thing.

Happy anniversary buddy.

For more Tuesday Tributes, visit Mayhem and Moxie-

12 October 2009

As far as from east to west...

...THAT far "does He remove our transgressions from us."
Oh deep breath!!
That is good news.

Andree Seu continues her writings on Psalm 103.

Verse 11
Verse 12
Verse 13
Verse 14
Verse 15

11 October 2009

Everyday, ordinary life

Everyday and ordinary, maybe only to me.
I have called it schizophrenia, but then I looked up the definition of that condition, and really, that's not it at all.

I think it's closer to multiple personality disorder.

Everyday ordinary life.

I live in a unique place.
I have the privilege of interacting with a whole wide range of folks.
Different folks.
Different jobs and levels of education.
Different backgrounds and origins.
Different languages and cultures.
Different socioeconomic statuses.
Different from me and different from each other.

Last week on Monday night, I gathered with men and women and children from ten nations, men and women and children representing half a dozen languages and the entire spectrum of melanin. I spoke English and Spanish and really-slow-English-with-really-big-hand-motions.

On Tuesday night, I gathered with three sweet friends and we ate dessert and talked about family and church and cooking and life.

On Wednesday afternoon, I helped to prepare and then serve dinner to a group that included residents of the homeless shelter, neighborhood characters, families and singles. Young and old. I laughed over crazy name confusion. I was exhausted.

On Thursday morning I sat in a car with a friend who blessed me by just saying, "Let's pray."

On Friday, I spent the morning with an enthusiastic group of women who gathered to make pie, eventually to sell pie, for my family's support raising efforts. I made pie, and perhaps ate a bit of "humble pie." On Saturday morning, my dog ate apple pie. (grrrr!)

On Saturday, I cheered on homeschool volleyball teams, high school and junior high, sitting with like-minded parents, thankful for this season of life.

Our days are school and sports and ministry and faith. Our moments are laughing and stories and tears and prayers. Our hope is in the Lord alone.

Everyday, ordinary life.

Everyday, ordinary events

A bloggy quote from a bloggy friend, Upsidedown Bee-

Keeping a blog enables me to capture and share the moments that matter most to me. As I reflect lately, I'm realizing more and more that it's these tiny moments that have shaped me into who I am today....Blogs give us a way to celebrate the everyday, ordinary events that are so important to us. Years from now, we will be able to go back and click through some of our most cherished memories - a simple gesture from a friend or the time we finished that project that seemed never ending - and we will smile.

(the snails and mushrooms artwork is from B, too! She's a gem. )

06 October 2009

My hands

In general, I have had few laments over aging. I like getting older. Honestly, I don't think about it often.
Until I look at my hands. And then, I remember.
I am aging. My hands are aging.

Oh, my hands have never been pretty. (well, ONE single day they were pretty- when I had fake nails on my wedding day. We took a picture. It lasted much longer than the nails did...)

My hands look wrinklier than they used to, more creased than my girls' hands.
My hands show scars. A scar of four stitches from having a wart removed when I was in 7th grade. The scars of two dark lines from an oven burn months and months ago. And yes, scars from knife cuts, too.

And my hands are starting to show those same brown age spots that my grandma had. They seem to appear overnight, and grow in the next.

My hands are not as strong as they once were. Sometimes I hand a jar to my son to open. Sometimes, especially as the weather cools, my hand ache and I rub them together, slowly.

And then, I remember.

At the concert the other night, as this song played, I looked at my hands again.
And then, I remember.
I'm thankful that I do not have to rely on myself, on my hands, on work, to know peace.

written by Horatius Bonar, 1861

Not what my hands have done
Can save my guilty soul
Not what my toiling flesh has borne
Can make my spirit whole
Not what I feel or do
Can give me peace with God
Not all my prayers and sighs and tears
Can bear my awful load

Thy work alone, Oh Christ
Can ease this weight of sin
Thy blood alone, Oh Lamb of God
Can give me peace within
Thy love to me, Oh God
Not mine, Oh Lord, to Thee
Can rid me of my dark unrest
And set my spirit free

And I bless the Christ of God
I rest on love divine
And with unfaltering lip and heart
I call this Savior mine
His cross dispels each doubt
I bury in His tomb
Each thought of unbelief and fear
Each lingering shade of gloom

And I praise the God of grace
I trust His truth and light
He calls me His, I call Him mine
My God, my joy, my life
Tis He Who saveth me
And freely pardon gives
I love because He loveth me
I live because He lives

04 October 2009


Today at my church we were blessed to share worship, and an evening concert, with Nathan Clark George. Nathan played acoustic guitar, and sang beautiful, sometimes fun, nearly always Scriptural, songs. Check out his music. You'll be blessed.


In general, Sundays at our house go like this-
nap (if you are over 40).
football or whiffle ball. (if you are a boy under age 40)
movie in the basement, most likely Jane Austen. (if you are a girl under age 40)
Spanish Bible study.

But, if you arrive at the H house at 8pm on Sunday night, you will almost always find us in the same place.
In the basement.
With our food and Iron Chef America.
(note: family favorites divided between Masaharu Morimoto, Cat Cora and Michael Symon... And we all adore Alton and The Chairman.)

It is ritual.

EXCEPT if you come over at 8pm for the next 10 weeks.
Then it will be Next Iron Chef.
Three lady chefs. You can imagine how the cheering goes in our house. Already, unanimously, these judges vote Chef Appleton out of Kitchen Stadium. We'll see if Jeffery agrees...

Stay tuned...


Glorious God,
It is the flame of my life to worship thee,
the crown and glory of my soul to adore thee,
heavenly pleasure to approach thee.

Give me power by thy Spirit to help me worship now,
that I may forget the world,
be brought into fullness of life,
be refreshed, comforted, blessed.

Give me knowledge of thy goodness
that I might not be over-awed by thy greatness;
Give me Jesus, Son of Man, Son of God,
that I might not be terrified,
but be drawn near with filial love,
with holy boldness;
He is my mediator, brother, interpreter,
branch, daysman, Lamb;
him I glorify,
in him I am set on high.

Crowns to give I have none,
but what thou has given I return,
content to feel that everything is mine when it is thine,
and the more fully mine when I have yielded it to thee.

Let me live wholly to my Saviour,
free from distractions,
from carking care,
from hindrances to the pursuit of the narrow way.

I am pardoned through the blood of Jesus-
give me a new sense of it,
continue to pardon me by it,
may I come every day to the fountain,
and every day be washed anew,
that I may worship thee always in spirit and truth.

from The Valley of Vision, ed. by Arthur Bennett
(photo credit: me)

01 October 2009

Photo Hunt Challenge

Inspired by my friend Michelle, I'm going to give the Photo Hunt Challenge a try in October.
Here's the list of items I'll be looking to shoot...

1. A Fall Activity
2. A Fall Treat
3. A Harvest
4. Leaves
5. Fall Colors
6. Something Orange
7. Something Spooky
8. A Cemetery
9. A Costume
10. A Black & White Photo
11. A Critter
12. Symmetry
13. Contrast
14. Texture
15. A Logo/ Mascot
16. Something Neon
17. Something Inspiring
18. Something Entertaining
19. Something Fast
20. Something Slow
Any shutterbugs want to play along?