Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Christmas is leisurely now. No more kids thundering down the stairs on Christmas morning. Well. Until the day I spend Christmas with a houseful of grandchildren!

A few scenes from our house ...

In my campaign to de-clutter, I passed along a few
ornaments to the newliest-weds.

Grandma Haller spent the day with us!

Our traditional Christmas brunch
(sausage souffle, served every Christmas for 30 years) - enjoyed by all.

Bill really needed a pillow and Santa came through.

Yes, this photo is out of focus. Jill does NOT sit still
when excited and surprised ...

.. and she's such fun to watch!

Obviously, a happy gal with her new sewing machine,
from her hubby, my son Mark.
I mean there were screams over this machine!

Who traveled farthest? David, who froze
in our house where we conserve heat!

Blogger is super-slow tonight, so I'm signing off.
More photos to come!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Who would sacrifice a son?

What does Christmas mean to you? About the time my sons were born, its meaning radically changed for me.

Sons come roaring into the world. They're loud. They tease. They burp. They play mean tricks on their sisters. They attract dirt and hate baths. Before I had kids, I was a little scared about having even one little boy. God laughed and gave me three boys, one right after the other. I nicknamed them Curly, Larry and Moe.

Our boys won my heart in short order. Bringing me fresh-picked dandelions. Asking me to play trucks and color with them. Writing me little love-notes. "Fixing" things around the house. Holding my face and declaring their love for me. Snuggling on my lap for a story at bedtime. And when they did bathe, they were just so handsome with their wet hair neatly combed.

In contrast to girls, boys put it all out there with no pretending. They tell it like it is. Or they slug their brother and everything's good again. Like the men they're destined to be, boys get to the task at hand and it's done. They love a challenge and chores can be accomplished by making them into a race. Although they sometimes tried to hide the fact, my boys had tender and compassionate hearts.

Now young men, my sons still melt my heart. They are honorable, loving, diligent. (Though when they're together they will act like Curly, Larry and Moe.)

Would I ever sacrifice my sons? I don't know of a mother who would. Not for a good person and certainly not for an evil one. There's not anything or anyone in this world that could convince me to give up one of my sons.

But God took no convincing. He saw the mess we'd made in this world and devised a plan to save us. Unbelievably, God became man in the form of a baby and was entrusted to a young Jewish couple 2,000 years ago. Unlike the nativity sitting on our piano, God knew his son wouldn't stay in the manger. He'd grow up and in obedience to his father, die a horrible death on a cross for the sins of everyone, for all time.

So the baby in the manger was the beginning, not the end. Christ was a lot of things. But his central purpose was to be the bridge to heaven, to show without a doubt that He's the way to eternal life. (Acts 4:12) As a mother, I can't imagine putting the weight of the world on my sons. But then, I'm not God.

That's what Christmas means to me. And I hope the same for you. I could never sacrifice my Curly, Larry or Moe. That's what makes God so unfathomable and amazing.

Merry Christmas to all!

(This post first appeared on December 24, 2008.)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

two days in the life

The past two days I ...

* could have found myself on the mall Santa's lap, but thankfully did not. You see, I was studying my mall map (yes, I dorkily use a mall map).

* spent four hours shopping. Well, maybe more like three. The other hour was spent waiting in traffic and finding parking spots.

* decided there is no recession in Columbus, Ohio.

* was amazed that the stores had lots of sales help. These people actually asked if I needed help. Refreshing!

* went to ten stores total.

* worked at my part-time job for over ten hours.

* mentally prepared a checklist for next year: Christmas shop in October, bake in November, write cards in early December. Then said to myself, says I, "you're joking, right?"

* texted with my sister, two sons, daughter, two daughters-in-love and husband. All important Christmas business.

* found this photo taken almost one year ago in Charlotte, N.C. at the Billy Graham museum. What a peaceful, lovely evening our family spent there.

I hope you are sailing happily toward Christmas!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Happy anniversary, Dad and Sally

Twenty-nine years ago today, my dad married Sally McAdoo, a vivacious Tennessee woman. A real southern lady!
Dad and Sally have now been married longer than my parents.

Sally is different from my mother in many ways, but she is the same in her devotion to my father. They are in a challenging time of life and a unique situation. Earlier this year Sally moved to Dad's assisted living facility so she could be near him.

Rarely a day goes by that Sally doesn't share a meal and watch TV with Dad. She keeps tabs on his overall health. Perhaps it isn't what they'd have chosen for this stage of life, but they are thankful to live in a safe and caring environment.

Happy 29th anniversary, Dad and Sally. Thank you for showing us how to continue loving each other late in life.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Joseph's Lullaby

I struggle this time of year, allowing myself to get overly busy, trying to "make a perfect Christmas." I don't shop early, bake early or write cards early. So it all piles up ... right about now. Honestly? I probably don't even stop to consider why I do all these things at all. Except that I love others and want to give.

Without fail, what always brings me back to the 'why' of Christmas is music. The lyrics of old favorites and new compositions soften my soul and allow God to remind me of why we give. Because He gave. It's that simple.

I'm borrowing the rest of this post from last year because I like it. Oh, and because my shopping's not done!

[We were awaiting the birth of our first grandchild.] I think of Joseph. He, too, welcomed his baby into the world. While Joseph's son was destined to be the Savior of the world, for all people, for all time, Joseph was a man, a humble carpenter. I can't imagine his divided emotions over the arrival of this little boy. The group MercyMe expresses Joseph's situation beautifully. Take a listen. I hope it brings your heart closer to the heart of Christmas.


Go to sleep my Son
This manger for your bed
You have a long road before You
Rest Your little head.

Can You feel the weight of Your glory?
Do You understand the price?
Does the Father guard Your heart for now
So You can sleep tonight?

Go to sleep my Son
Go and chase Your dreams
This world can wait for one more moment
Go and sleep in peace.

I believe the glory of Heaven
Is lying in my arms tonight
Lord, I ask that He for just this moment
Simply be my child.

Go to sleep my Son
Baby, close Your eyes
Soon enough You'll save the day
But for now, dear Child of mine
Oh my Jesus, Sleep tight

- MercyMe

Monday, December 13, 2010

we've got soup

What frightful weather reports! From the upper midwest to New England, mother nature (don't you just love that politically correct nickname for the creator of the universe?) packed a wallop over the weekend. Twenty inches of snow and more on the way.

While the winds were plenty impressive and the temps dipped way low, we escaped a huge snowfall. But it's real wintry and we've got soup! Out comes the soup pot and bread machine. Easy and piping hot on a frigid December afternoon!

I made vegetable-beef soup (in which I nearly forgot the tomatoes and absolutely did forget the potato because I avoid recipes) and sunflower seed bread.

What do you make for dinner when the winter winds blow?

And I took a pic of my soup but there's a failure to communicate between camera and computer!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Santa Central

 My daughter Katie had a very good idea concerning Christmas gifting. "Why doesn't everyone put out their gift ideas in one list, then we don't have to keep asking each other?"

An excellent suggestion, Katie! Because here it is, two weeks before Christmas, and we Hallers are scrambling around trying to come up with a perfect gift idea. For a few years the kids drew each other's names. Not sure what happened with that. Now I'm getting e-mails and phone calls (and yes, making a few of my own) asking what so-and-so would like.

There's a rumor that at least one couple in the family has finished their shopping. That is beyond my ability to imagine. But hey, it's Christmas. I can dream!

Anyway, this is our first Christmas with a sweet little grandchild. And here she is, inspecting the tree. Her first. So precious.

Whenever I get a little gift-bedraggled, I'll just look at this photo and remember the tiny miracle that is Christmas.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

with a tree on top, don't, DON'T pull into the garage!

I'm pleased to announce that we did NOT pull into the garage whilst our Christmas tree was tied atop the van. Yay us!

Who would do that, you ask? I did. Yes, I most certainly did, probably ten years ago. But I had four giddy kids in the van at the time, all of them loudly drunk on Christmas expectation. We'd just visited Bill at his office, where a lovely Christmas open house was in progress. After letting them eat a free dinner of BBQ weenies and onion dip, I corralled the kids and headed home. Garage door up, pull in.

Scrreeeeech, scratch. My four sobered up in a hurry. "MOM! THE TREE'S STILL ON THE VAN!"
Duh. I knew that. Well, I did know it, but as harried moms tend to do, I forgot for the few seconds it took to pull into the garage and wedge the tree between van and garage door. Dang.

The boys were big enough to tackle the problem, which, picture this, was a tree in a tight spot. I'd had it. Had enough of kids, Christmas, BBQ weenies, and trees. I walked into the house and let them solve it.

They scooted and slid it right off. And we all laughed.

Every year they remind me of my Christmas lapse in judgment. I'm sure this year will be no different.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

gas station redemption

The episode at the Virginia gas station back in October still bothered me. I guess the guy got his point across because I still think about him every time I pump gas. But over the weekend I had another gas station experience that renewed my faith in people or, at least men at gas stations.

Driving solo to visit my dad in Nashville, I pulled into a Speedway station in Bowling Green, Kentucky. After filling up, I parked to review my route into Nashville. But when I turned the ignition, the awful click-click-click told me the battery was history. Dang.

Feeling like a panhandler - or worse - I approached every guy who pulled in, especially those in pick-ups, asking for jumper cables.

"No ma'am, mine are at home" or "in the other truck, ma'am" was the answer from probably ten different guys. (Am I really a ma'am?) At last, an older gentleman about the age of the Virginia crazy man took pity on me. After trying unsuccessfully to pop the clutch, we found a young guy in a pick-up with cables and they jumped my battery.

Yippee, ready to hit the road. But the older gentleman advised, "right down there is an Advance Auto Parts and you might want to have that battery checked. Then if it's bad they'll put in a new one." I considered and thought, yes, maybe I'd better.

Thirty minutes, a new battery and $90 later I was back on I-65 heading south to Nashville. I learned that the state football championship was coming to Bowling Green that weekend and had I arrived later, the auto parts guys probably couldn't have helped me so quickly. I also called my sister, who I was meeting in Nashville, to pray for my situation.

I didn't even get the first name of the man who came to my rescue. He was sincerely polite and helpful but not creepy. He even drove by as I was getting the new battery and waved, as if making sure I was ok.

There's plenty of nastiness out in the world, as the media is quick to point out. But once in awhile the best of humanity rises up to restore my faith. And maybe Kentucky has more gentlemen than Virginia.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Christmas and the meaning of life

December! As Christmas presses in and retailers threaten to strangle us with trappings and tinsel, I must push it away and get to the core of Christmas: the undeserved gift of Christ.

God loves us with an everlasting love. He is unutterably merciful and kind, and sees to it that not a day passes without the opportunity for new applications of the old truth of becoming a child of God.
This, to me, sums up the meaning of life.
                                                                                               - Elisabeth Elliot

If you missed my post on Elisabeth and wonder about her, go to: Elisabeth Elliot. She's my hero. A prolific writer of incredible spiritual depth who has pursued God for seven decades.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving wrap-up

Well we had a swell Thanksgiving.
Katie's friend Rachelle joined us
and she helped make a sweet little apple pie

with me!

Though we posed a moment too long
and lost a bit of the juice!

Then, our chief surpriser David flew to
Columbus Thursday morning and surprised Katie,

Mark and Jill. It was wild fun when David jumped
out of the back of the van!

While the girls got busy in the kitchen,

the boys took a spin in Mark's "new" Chevy truck.

Yeah, the guys know their way around
the kitchen, too!

Sibs cleaning the kitchen!

Jill and Katie at the keyboard.

Adorable printed menu by Jill.
Wonderful hostess, my daughter-in-love!

Ah, exuberance of college girls - fun having them around!

Sigh. Summer's officially over.
The porch is put to bed for winter.

I hope you were blessed with
family, good food, and a surprise or two
over Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

a peaceful chaos

"Mom, have you been reading my new blog?" asked my daughter Katie.

Oh yes, a peaceful chaos. I remember the name, but not having it as a favorite, I wasn't following.

A Peaceful Chaos is Katie's art/photography blog where she shares her artistic things and a bit about her college life. I tell Katie she's an artist at heart. She sees and approaches life in creatively wonderful ways. It's fun living with an artist. Most of the time.

So now I will follow. I promise, Katie. And now that I've advertised it on my blog, how about more frequent posts? I'd like that.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

We're headed to son Mark and  daughter-in-love Jill's tomorrow to celebrate Thanksgiving. It's fun to see the next generation create their holiday traditions and wrangle the turkey!

Daughter Katie and California friend Rachelle are home from college and soon we'll be making pie and cornbread and green beans for tomorrow. Dontcha just love those aromas?

I thank God for my family, my gorgeously healthy granddaughter whose birth we awaited this time last year, and the incredible blessings of home, friends and country.

May you be thankful this week as well.

Let us come before him with thanksgiving ...
Psalm 95:2

Saturday, November 20, 2010

goodbye blue ... and Uncle Hugh

So I told myself, "That blue won't do." My lovely and skilled daughter Katie painted the breakfast room over a year ago. My thinking was, blue would look cool and cheery with our green kitchen. But it never set right with me. I like to think I inherited my dad's great eye for color. Trouble is, I know what I like once it's done, but I lack in choosing the right color at the start.

Blue's a hard color to get right if you ask me. I once painted the living room a light blue and son Mark, at the gloomy age of 14, commented, "what, are we having another baby?"

I first chose "Heavy Cream." Don't you just love paint color names? Heavy cream was too yellow. Back to the paint store for "Wheat Sheaf." Maybe a smidge light, but Wheat Sheaf it is and shall be.

Veterans Day inspired me to pull out the fantastic photo of my great-uncle Hugh Lanier in his WW I uniform. He stood straight and handsome, hat tucked under his arm. Pasted inside a cardboard cover embellished with stars and stripes, this photo may have been the only copy in existence.

On one of my trips to the paint store, dog Ellie got bored. Or she might be annoyed that I put her favorite couch in the basement. I thought she'd grown out of her appetite for photographs, but apparently not. I found the cardboard torn into many small pieces on the floor of my study. Oddly, I saw no pieces of Uncle Hugh anywhere. Nor upon examination of "piles" in the yard. So perhaps Uncle Hugh will reappear, but my hope is slim.

Those are the highlights of my week. How about you?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I know her!

The oddest sensation came over me when I first saw this photo of my granddaughter Ari this week. You might think I'm crazy, but ...

I know her. No, I know her. Oh, not like her parents do. They know which cry means what, when it's time for bed, her favorite foods and toy, how to cuddle her and place her in her crib, and how long she can last on errands. I need a crash course in those things on my short visits.

But as I study Ari's deep, dark eyes, delicate hands and flawless complexion I have a sense that I know her completely, as I did my own children. Though I don't, and she isn't. But still. A connection exists that I cannot explain.

I guess it's called grandmotherhood.

And I'm liking it.

Being a grandmother is the best.
I believe it is the only thing in life that is not overrated. 
- Marty Norman

Monday, November 15, 2010

Thanksgiving assignment!

It's a glorious day to be assigned only a green bean casserole for Thanksgiving dinner! (Don't laugh; we're Ohioans and I think it's our state casserole.)

I remember marveling at other women my age who went to their mother's or mother-in-law's house for holiday meals year after year. Not sure how - or if - they ever learn to cook a turkey or sweet potato casserole. And no leftovers? How terribly sad because turkey and dressing leftovers are my favorite. I haven't minded cooking solo for these big events most of my married life. After a few years it's just no big deal.

The big, fun deal to me is passing the baton to a daughter or daughter-in-love.
Thanks to two resourceful daughters-in-love, I'm increasingly off the hook. Jill, practically a newlywed, is excitedly planning Thanksgiving for us next week and I am saying hallelujah! Two years ago, newlywed Jenny did the same. It's fabulous to taste their dishes and see them create their own holiday traditions.

Though I might miss the turkey and dressing leftovers, just a little.

Thanksgiving 2009 at our house: Jill, Katie and Rachelle.
(Katie's college friend who lives in California!)

Friday, November 12, 2010

the man at the gas station

Already rattled from a one-hour detour on I-77 in Virginia, I pulled into a station to fill up. Behind me, an older man eyed me as he filled his van. Maybe he thought I'd backed up too close. My son Dan, who had given me detour directions by phone, called to check on me.

I continued to talk and pump gas. Then. The man roared up to me, spewing expletives. "Can you get off that *%#@ cell phone while I pull away, before you blow us both up? There's a BIG SIGN right there warning you not to talk on a phone while pumping gas! Thirty-two women have been blown up doing that!"

Stunned, I'm not one to just to take it. I walked to his van, and looked right at him.

"Sir, I appreciate your concern, but you could be alot more polite. There's no need to yell."

#$%&* he fumed as he pulled away.

A minute too late, I wish I'd walked over to the building and awaited his wife, exiting the restroom. I would have said, "is he your husband? Well I sure hope he speaks more respectfully to you than he did to me. Have a good day."

Instead I stood, dazed and furious.

I was really, really peeved. The BIG SIGN was small and hidden. I vaguely remember hearing warnings about cell phones at gas pumps. But really. A kinder, gentler approach would have sufficed.

I was furious, in fact, the rest of the drive to Charlotte. Then, before eating lunch with Dan and Jenny, she simply prayed: "Lord, soften the heart of the man at the gas station."

Had I thought to pray? No, my bruised ego got in the way of a prayerful attitude. My job isn't to set things right nor even to be right. It's to be Jesus to those who desperately need him. And that man must be filled with hurt for it to spill out so easily onto a complete stranger.

But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.
Matthew 5:44

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

an iPod for grandma?

To iPod or not. That's the question. I embrace new technology much the same way that I learned to swim. Failing beginning swimming three times shook my confidence in the water. Then in college I took lifesaving and there was no looking back. I loved swimming!

Maybe it's time to jump on the iPod bandwagon. CD's clutter my life: the desk, car, kitchen counter, drawers and shelves. And they're so ... 90's!

And allow me digress, but my favorite CD story happened when son Dan came home from preschool one day in 1990. Wide-eyed, he spread his hands a foot apart and exclaimed, "Mommy, they have CD's THIS BIG at preschool!"

So why not, I should get with the program. According to those in the know (my friends) an iPod is a must-have. Maybe a must-want. But like my fear of the pool, I start listing the negatives.

1. How do I load the thing? Dan says it will "take him 5 months" to teach me. Your point, son?
2. Earphones. I absolutely detest things in my ears. So I figure I'll buy a "dock" - yeah I'm getting the lingo - a clock radio that charges and plays your iPod. And, I can play it in the car as long as there's a pluggy hole for it.
3. Which model? Shuffle. Nano. Classic. 250, 500 or 2,000 songs? Oh, dear.
4. What if I get tired of songs, can I take them off and replace with new ones?

My kids are laughing, I am certain. IPod technology is as complicated to them as brushing their teeth. Which, had I not been teaching them to do all those years, I might be better versed in iPods!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Jerry Jenkins and college student for a day

Made a little road trip to Indiana yesterday. Destination: Taylor University to hear Jerry Jenkins, co-author of the Left Behind series speak on writing. By the way, he's written around 175 books. That's what I call a prolific writer.

First stop: grabbing my sweet daughter Katie and heading to the "D.C." (dining commons) for lunch, since one o'clock was fast-approaching: her class time and my time with Jerry. I mean Mr. Jenkins.

It's a funny paradox whenever I visit the college eating venue. On one hand, I feel very comfortable navigating about, thinking back to my own college days. Hot food line, salad bar, desserts, beverages. I also want to tell the kids: enjoy this, dear: soon enough you'll be doing the cooking!

But then, the crowds and fast-moving young adults cause me some disorientation until I feel a bit overwhelmed. Thankfully, Katie saves me. I hear, "Mom, over here." And I follow her voice to get my tea. "Mom, this way." And we find a table. I feel a little like her little girl, following mommy's voice. She smiles, reading my mind. 

Jerry Jenkins was marvelous. Witty, engaging, humble. And author of books that have sold 70 million copies. 70 million! He critiqued samples of students' work and shared his writing life. All so fascinating for a writer.

At 3 o'clock I scooted to the art building for Katie's "Experimental Photography" class. The project of the day was making prints from old slides. Katie had asked me to bring some from my college days, so that was pretty cool. Katie printed one of the main street of my college town, 70's cars and all. She liked that. The kids welcomed me, but  I was humbled to realize they were printing slides I had shot and developed in college 35 years ago. My life is passing so very quickly.

We shared dinner at Paynes, a local eclectic cafe. Katie ordered a monstrous veggie burger! The best part was our time together. I love my daughter and love to see the ways she is maturing into womanhood.

After dinner we caught another hour with Jerry Mr. Jenkins, including a book signing. I didn't know whether to address him as Jerry or Mr. Jenkins and frankly, I forgot his name when I stepped to the table. So I just thanked him for his afternoon seminar. How profound.

I love going to college for a day, but it's good to come home to my own bed.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


I remember my parents hosting a coffee in our home as they campaigned for Barry Goldwater back in the 60's. It made a big impression on young me. We Americans are privileged and duty-bound to vote.

Please get out and vote today!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Happy Haller-ween!

Not a fan of Halloween, especially what it's become ... monstrous yard displays and money spent on endless Halloween junk (judging by the aisles of stuff at Wal-mart).

But someone in our family coined the term "Haller-ween" and I think it's so clever. My trip to the pumpkin farm earlier this week with Ari provided the opportunity for several adorable "Haller-ween" photos ...

I think her toothy grin looks like a little jack-o-lantern!


Thursday, October 28, 2010

the rest of our visit

Dear Ari,
A mighty October wind blew in
and you and I watched it through the kitchen windows.

I told you how God is like the wind:
even though you can't actually see him,
you can see and feel him working,
sometimes in big, windy ways;
and sometimes in slightly barely-ruffling-the-leaves ways.
Since you are so fresh from God,
I think you understand the concept better than me.

While you napped, Baba had a couple of chores ...
like folding your cloth diapers.
I love your "FuzziBunz"!

You are ready to go after naps ...

I love your active busy-ness, Ari ...
so sweet and full of life.
Thank you for sharing a couple of days with Baba.
Love you forever!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

visiting Ari

Dear Ari,

So good to see you again!
We had lots of fun playing,

(especially watching you eat)

and, oh my, a trip to the nearby
pumpkin farm.

Oh yeah, we took our time and found
the perfect pumpkin!

At the start, you smiled your big,
beautiful smile ...

... but then you weren't  feeling so great,
so our time was cut short.

 ... and back home we went.

We're not done yet ... next post: the rest of our visit!
love you forever,