Sunday, October 31, 2010


The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Psalm 19:1 NIV

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The ring

~ three weeks ~

Friday, October 29, 2010


Betsy came home from a long day of clinicals on Thursday and laid down on the kitchen floor. There's a heat vent near the floor under the kitchen sink that was the sought after (and fought after) lounging spot on chilly mornings. Often on Saturday mornings, Dad stepped over one or two children, sprawled across the floor, while he mixed pancake batter. Most of us haven't thought about the heat vent (unless we're washing dishes) in years, but for Betsy the spot still provides comfort. 

Thursday, October 28, 2010


It is the season for storms--for ominous clouds, gusts of wind, claps of thunder, and incredible light!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


"Amy needs a job!" Betsy said, when she came home one afternoon and discovered my painting project.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Isley portraits

The weather was uncooperative Saturday afternoon. Kristen envisioned her family posed with the autumn colors of the blueberry farm in the background. But we were limited to the relative dryness of their back porch. Despite an Iowa State game, family members were more cooperative than the weather, and we managed to capture some images of the Isley family.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Sunday school

Bethany fleeing from a frog her sisters discovered in the church yard.
Our Sunday school lesson this week was about God calling Abram, later named Abraham, to leave the land of Ur to go to the land that God would give him (Genesis 12). After a warm-up game of "Simon says" (spiritual parallel, when "God says" you had better do it; when anybody else says, you had better think before you do it), my three students and I read the scripture passage, found Ur on the map and discovered it was located in present-day Iraq, shook our limbs while singing "Father Abraham," and achieved minimal success at folding colored paper into miniature tents. Then I passed out paper doll outlines while Bethany found crayons, markers and colored pencils. 

We had three main characters in our story--Abram, his wife, Sarai (later Sarah), and his nephew, Lot. Of course, the role of Sarai fell to Bethany, as the only girl. But both Daniel and Ethan wanted to represent Lot. Finally, since Ethan was the visitor, I awarded him the task of depicting Lot, and Daniel was left with Abram.

Daniel made the best of the old guy. "Well, my Abram's going to be a soldier," he said.

Knowing Daniel's fascination with wars in history, I said, "Abram was a fighter."

"He was?"

"Yeah. When Lot lived in Sodom it was attacked by enemy kings and they took Lot captive. Abram and his servants had to go fight the enemy kings and rescue Lot" (Genesis 14).

"Ah ha!" Daniel said, gloating over his cousin. "I had to rescue you." The boys were impressed with the thought of battle and decided to draw swords in their characters's hands. As boys that age are apt to do, they didn't fail to mention that Bethany/Sarai, as a girl, wouldn't be involved in the battle. 

"Oh, but Sarai was a beautiful woman," I said. "She was so beautiful that an evil king captured her and took her to his palace" (the latter part of Genesis 12).

Daniel wasn't interested in princesses in distressed. He wanted to know if we were going to learn about Abram rescuing Lot. 

I flipped ahead in the teacher's book. "That's next week."

"Cool. I'm coming back next Sunday!"

Me too. I love teaching Sunday School.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

God of the publican,

O holy God, make me such a creature as thou canst take pleasure in,
and such a being that I can take pleasure in thee.

"Mercy" The Valley of Vision

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Super scary structure

Utilitarian and economic themes, not aesthetics, influenced the construction of what Betsy dubbed the "Super Scary Structure." Several years ago my brothers, using odds and ends of materials my Grandpa purchased at auctions, designed and erected an agricultural structure for storing hay. Thankfully, they situated the structure on the far side of our woods where it is not visible from the house. Dad planned to replace the structure, but due to the accident that interrupted our lives last January, the super scary structure remains for yet another season.


Friday, October 22, 2010

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Cool cars

The cool cars park together at the family reunion. Which vehicle is ours? (Hint: Our vehicle is named Vanna White)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


After squeezing glue on her paper Abigail sprinkles it with glitter.

I taught preschool Tuesday morning. My cousin Carmen's three daughters stayed with us while Jimmy and Carmen attended Brethren in Christ pastor orientation. Thus on Tuesday morning, armed with glue and glitter, I attempted to contain a three-year-old while the older children concentrated on textbooks.

Glitter is entertaining and the five-year-old abandoned her workbook to join us. We succeeded in covering the table with glitter before we left the glue to dry and moved to the kitchen. There we constructed lunch, which consisted of pizza and pizza cookie. 

I found my helpers cutting boards and table knives and they diligently minced olives while I diced onions and peppers and measured ingredients for pizza dough. About half of the black olives disappeared in the process. The girls rolled their own mini-pizzas and smeared them with sauce. While the pizzas baked we mixed peanut butter cookie dough and spread it on a pizza pan. The girls topped the pizza cookie with marshmallows and chocolate chips and I limited their consumption to one marshmallow and three chocolate chips each. 

Lunch was delicious. The girls ate their own mini pizzas and sampled the pizza cookie. Then it was time for naps, especially for the preschool teacher. 

Bekah minced the green olives while Abigail minced (and ate) the black olives.
Our pizza cookie, made of peanutubtter, sugar, egg and baking soda and adorned with marshmallows, chocolate chips and sprinkles.

Abigail eating a piece of pepperoni from her pizza.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Abigail and Aunt Christie
My cousin Christie told her parents she was flying to Anchorage this past weekend, but she didn't tell them that the trip to the city was only the first stop on her journey to Michigan. Christie teaches third to fifth grade students in a small Alaskan village accessible only by plane. Christie decided a quick visit to the lower forty-eight was the treatment for homesickness. 

She timed her visit to coincide with our family's annual reunion this past Sunday. This year Johnny and Bonnie from Oklahoma couldn't claim the distinction of having traveled the farthest.

Christie's is home only for a few days. Then she will again board a plane and begin the nearly three thousand mile journey back to her students, much to the dismay of the teacher who bet twenty bucks she wouldn't come back.

Monday, October 18, 2010

A good book

A sign of a good book is duct tape on the binding.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

350 million people

can't read the Bible in their own language.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Hot dog

Kaelyn may have inherited her Byler aunts love for cute shoes, but she shares the tastes of one of her Cook aunts. Kaelyn and I are both hot dog fans. According to her parents, Kaelyn isn't overly concerned about cooking her "doggies" and would be willing to eat them directly from the package.

Friday, October 15, 2010


A few of the 400 pumpkins we raised for local businesses.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


My cousin is reliving her childhood through her daughter. Carmen sewed a pilgrim outfit for Bethany's 8th birthday. When we were Bethany's age, Carmen and I loved to dress up. Often we played "Little House on the Prairie."  At Thanksgiving, we became pilgrims, though we never had costumes as sophisticated as Bethany's.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Yes, we do keep a cactus in our bathroom.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Little girls

Abigail and Bekah sitting, reason unknown, in the ditch.

I was walking down the road after church when Abigail called to me to come back, because she and Bekah wanted to hold my hand. Who could resist two little girls asking to hold your hand? With one on each side, we held hands and walked across the lawn to the parsonage.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts
Isaiah 55:9 NIV

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Autumn leaves

Since I don't live on this street, I imbibe the brilliance, unhindered by the thought of raking leaves.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Pizza Game Night

Kaelyn playing Candy Land while Aunt Libby reads the directions.
Judith made pizza and we had pizza game night Friday night. Along with a traditional pizza, Judith produced a barbecue chicken pizza. Later we had jelly beans while we played our games. We played a couple of rounds of DutchBlitz and Boom-O as well as a roaring game of Imaginiff, in which I was imagined a mini-van and Monopoly WaterWorks.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Railroad museum

Over a hundred engines, cars and cabooses tell the story of Pennsylvania's rail history at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, in Strasburg. 

Despite flooding that closed several roads, we managed to wind our way through Lancaster County Friday to the museum. 

Along with the restored engines and cars that line the inside of a huge building, old rusting equipment, and even an authentic turntable, are displayed in the yard outside. The museum houses enough railroad artifacts to keep a train enthusiast enthralled for hours. 

One section of the museum is dedicated to young enthusiasts. Beyond the station waiting room, with the DVD on Pennsylvania railroad history, is a room where children can look at train picture books, design Lego engines, and even deliver raw materials using a toy train set. On the opposite side of the building, a train simulator allows visitors to control the train's speed while guiding it to the station (all the while blowing the whistle at crossings). 

Whether young or old, enthusiast or novice, the museum provides visitors the opportunity to travel through Pennsylvania's railroad history, and leave the museum with a personal reminder of the power of transportation--sore feet.

Logan, using a toy engine to transport carloads of goods.

Janessa playing with toys while the aunts, uncles and grandparents wandered among restored train cars. Later Judith took the little girls home for naps.