Monday, October 08, 2007

Lanier's Birthday

On Saturday, September 29, we celebrated Lanier's 26th birthday. The actual birth day was 09/30. Lanier isn't much on celebrations or crowds, but since I was in Tennessee on his last birthday and missed it, I wanted to make up for it this year.

We asked Abby, a friend, to make the cake. I'm not keen on red velvet, but Ab's cake was AMAZING! The only candle we could find was a number 9 candle from somebody's birthday, but it did the job. Sophie tried to help blow it out.

Lanier did the typical Mexican thing where you smash your face in the cake (or someone does it for you?). Pictured below, you see his favorite gift: a fake parrot Hannah found in the costume section at WalMart. He wants to be a pirate for Halloween and what self-respecting pirate stumps around without a parrot? Izzy is too small for the job and just looks ridiculous perched on his shoulder...

Of course, no birthday party would be complete without a pinata! It was literally a smashing success. Hannah, Bess and I filled Superman with around 4 lbs. of candy the day before and hid him in Bess's bedroom. Sophie discovered him accidentally and played with him a little before we shushed her and hid him again. Thus it followed that poor Sophie, who had never seen a pinata before, was a little freaked out when we started bashing poor Superman with a stick. When candy started leaking out, she was mildly consoled.

Pictured below: Zach and Cheri, Lanier, Bess and Hannah and Jona.

Here's Bess taking her turn. She nearly hit me with the stick.

So, Lanier had a very happy 26th birthday with family and friends.

This past weekend I went to Austin for my weekly Farsi (Persian) lesson. Hannah got her Progress Report from school and had all A's. She's enjoying learning how to play guitar and really has a knack for it.

The Abstinence Rally we attended on Saturday night was awesome! Check out for more information--these guys did a fantastic job!! Over 700 junior and senior high kids came from our area and listened to skits, testimonies, videos and the founder of the ministry. While the main guy shared a brief personal testimony of salvation and explained the plan of salvation, I was blown away by the absolute SILENCE in the auditorium. Those kids were really listening! Our Student Ministries Pastor, Ryan Koenig, reported next morning at church that 96 kids responded to the altar call and received salvation! (photo above) Wow!!

So, it was a good weekend! Hannah and I enjoyed the rally together and she had fun with Lanier and Bess while I was up in Austin. And we've found a killer Mexican restaurant in town called "Daniel's." Their tacos al pastor are just like the ones I've had in Cd. Valles! I'm in heaven!

Friday, October 05, 2007

Hannah's Most Recent Poem

Hey all, Hannah wrote this killer poem last night while doing homework. Enjoy.

Don't Watch the News

don't watch the news!
too depressing and grotesque
just turn it off
and read something instead

don't watch the news!
nothing good ever happens
reporters don't cry
or show anger in any way

don't watch the news!
rapists and killers, nothing else
too sad, too enraging
too disgusting to think about

don't watch the news!
protect yourself
just pray in ignorance
don't darken your thoughts

don't watch the news!
all they care about is money, it seems
do reporters go home and cry
or do they just not care?

don't watch the news!
don't do it
just don't
too depressing, too grotesque
just read something instead

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Year of Completion

Lanier told me that 2007 had been called "The Year of Completion." I don't think I'd heard that. I can see the reasoning: the number 7 meaning "perfection" and also "complete." He found it interesting that we're getting married at the end of this year, this "year of completion."

Anyway, all we're doing right now is a whole lot of waiting! Waiting for a possible job change (his, not mine!), waiting to see where we'll live, waiting for the wedding, waiting for the trip to Spain and Morocco in February, waiting to see what church we'll attend as a family.

A lot of waiting.

And a lot of praying. Faith-filled praying! Happy praying. Not being anxious for anything. I keep reading Madeleine L'Engle books to Hannah and mowing the lawn and picking dead blooms off my impatiens. And I'm getting into a routine of exercising with my good friend, Cheri! We biked last Sunday for about 5 miles, which isn't much, until one considers the HILLS we dealt with. Good lord! I was toast. And we play tennis, which is great fun.

This weekend is Lanier's birthday! His folks are out of town, traveling thru the southeastern U.S., but Bess and Jake are here and we plan to celebrate with them and some friends.

I've done 2 Farsi lessons and am really trying to learn some verbs. I repeated the conjugation last night and numbers 1-10 while Hannah did homework. I've perfected telling her "go to sleep!"

"Bekhab!" (the "kh" should be treated as a throat-clearing noise)

Useful little phrases like that make it easier to learn. I don't know when I'll return to Turkey since the Baldersons moved to CO but I felt I should keep up the Persian in preparation.

That's all for now. Until the next time!

Khoda hafez,

Monday, August 27, 2007

Hey everybody! Today was my first day of 7th grade! I wasn't freaked out at all b/c last year I went to the same school. At my school there are A days & B days, so tomorrow I'll have 2 classes that will change. The classes I had today that change were PE & Choir. Tomorrow I'll have advanced Spanish & Art. Next semester instead of Art I'll have Theater. I'm very happy with all of my classes! I'm taking advanced English, pre-Algebra, & high-school Spanish! Whew! Lots of homework, plus ballet after school on Mondays. (If my report card is all A's again like last year & I'm not struggling, mom will sign me up for Jazz!) Well, that's all that's new! I'll write later!


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

It was a Saturday afternoon in August, the day before we left for the WIM International Conference. Hannah had plotted and planned a surprise engagement party for me and Lanier. A good number of our friends waited at my house and totally shocked me!
So, that's the news around here in this neck of the woods! We set the date for December 28 which was the soonest we could get this show on the road. It'll be in Valdosta so the bulk of our friends and family can attend.

I've waited a while to post anything because we've been SO busy, but things are really going well. All the Halls' children were here with their families: Jonathon and Lisa with their three, Krissy and Ben with baby Sara (and one on the way!), Jessica and Alcoe with their daughter and Bess and Jacob. B & J have just moved here with their two-year-old daughter, Sophia.

We hung out with them every day and Hannah, for the first time in her life, was ROLLING in first cousins! Jade and Eve, age 5, were already looking up to their "big cousin." Both girls solemnly pledged to be my flower girls in December.

I'll try and post more pictures and stories from the past few weeks soon. Hannah starts 7th grade next Monday at Canyon Middle. She's enrolled in Algebra, Pre-AP English, Texas History, Art, Science, and Spanish! And I've got to get her enrolled in dance next Saturday. I think she'll do Hip-Hop again.

Here's a final picture of our Happy Future Family. Lanier y las mujeres! Lanier and his girls.

Thanks to all of you who have prayed for us and are part of our lives here in Texas and in Georgia. We love you all! -Rachael

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Tami is going to Oaxaca, Mexico, for 51/2 months starting the end of June. She's a friend of mine from Tree of Life, and we work together at Source. She's going to learn Spanish and work with a couple in Oaxaca, learning the ropes of missionary life. So, she needed good photos for her newsletters! Glad I could be of service.

We went downtown in New Braunfels and prowled around behind the Brauntex Theatre. Next we moved on down Castell Street to use the huge mural painted on the side of the buildings depicting the historical journey of German immigrants to Texas.

It was getting pretty warm (hey it's Texas!) so we tried to hurry and find places in full shade. I was shooting with the Canon 50mm 1.4 lens (thanks Chris!) but since it can be pretty soft wide open at 1.4, I left it on 1.8 or 2.0 per Krissy's advice. :) And it worked!

Monday, May 07, 2007

Hey all!

Just a quickie: I've turned in ALL my moolah for our trip to Turkey this June! Many, many thanks to all who gave and all who are praying! Our team is pruned to six: Mark Balderson (team leader), Larry and Judy Anderson, Beatrice Gonzales, Randi Hamm and me! All of us except Randi went last year. I haven't met her yet, but I should meet Randi tonight at our planning meeting. I hear she's very cool. :)

Our International Conference is August 5-9 in Kerrville, TX. I'm paying our fees in steadily; it's about $365 for me and Hannah to go. The directors believe that God will provide $45,000 for all us missionaries from around the world to come! That money would cover all the missionaries' hotel rooms and lunch for all 4 days, including their children. I'm tentatively scheduled to teach two workshops, one on newsletters and a general one on "How to Present Your Ministry." If you donors and pray-ers and friends want to give me any opinions on what YOU think missionaries could do to improve their communication or presentation of ministry, please email me! I am grateful for input.

Grace Spell is putting together a mission trip to Spain and Morocco for September. I'm interested in going, and would like to take Hannah with me. She'll be nearly 13 (gasp!) and is bugging me to take her on a trip. It's been over 2 years since she went to China. I imagine the cost will be around $2500 per person.

It'd be great for me to go because I only know one of the three missionary families we have there, and I haven't worked with any of them. Plus, one of the families has a great desire to work with Muslims, and that's sort of become my field of interest, too. And it'd be nice to go with a team from New Covenant! I'll let you know what develops...

That's it for now. Our birdies in the petunia basket are growing FAST. Max came over Sunday afternoon and was fascinated. He did REALLY well for a 3-year-old; he never tried to touch them. Aleiah does NOT like birds. She cries whenever she sees Izzy, but Max thinks he's the coolest thing.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Happy Friday. I walked into the office manager's office this morning to ask a question and spied this box of Hershey's Kisses on top of the bookshelf. It was full of Kisses, brightly wrapped in red, green and silver foil.

I inhaled the scent of Kisses and immediately was transported 25 years back when I was little and would visit my Big Mama and Big Daddy's house in Cherry Creek. Danny, Big Mama's mama, had the back bedroom. Her bed had a brass frame and an inexpensive gold-colored spread (I thought it was lovely). Next to the bed was a small night stand with two or three drawers. I'd sneak in the room and open that top drawer, because it was always full of Hershey's Kisses. The smell of that drawer when you opened it was heavenly.

Danny's been gone 20 years or more, and Big Mama doesn't live in Cherry Creek anymore. But that bed and that little table still stand in the guest bedroom across the hall from Big Mama's.

Every once in a while I'll go back there and open that drawer. There aren't any Kisses anymore, but I still imagine the smell is there. The smell of my great-mother who lived 103 years and made the best blueberry pies in the world and watched "Days of Our Lives." The chocolate smell of memories.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Hi again! These are our new neighbors! This spring, we have a beautiful brown dove living in our petunia basket on the front porch. I tried to swish her away from my flowers so I could water the plant, and lo! I discovered two tiny eggs! We have been carefully watering their "house" and watching to see what happens!
This morning the petunias were particularly droopy, so I gingerly lowered the basket, to find these!! We have babies!!
Aren't they the ugliest little things you've ever seen? I think they're so cute! They are sleeping head to tail (or head to butt right now, they don't really have tails). I can't wait to show Max!
A week ago there was a TERRIBLE may have seen news of it on the TV. A tornado touched down near the TX/Mexico border, 180 south west of our town. That night, I lay awake for a little while, listening to the rain and watching the lightening, and I prayed for our little eggs and the mama swinging in the basket outside. I'm so glad they were protected.

God even cares about the smallest of His creatures.

Be blessed! Feel His love and His care! He cares for you. Love, R

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Howdy again. Hannah's been taking hip-hop since September, and I've never taken photos of her. I thought they'd do a recital, but it was cancelled due to lack of participation, go figure. So, May is the last month of class, and I knew I'd better get while the gettin's good!
They've learned two songs (erm, two dances) and below is the beginning of one. There are only about 4 girls in this class and Hannah's the oldest (and tallest!!)

Here's Hannah with one of the girls.

Hannah doing her Famous Face Plant. She can hold it for about 116 seconds.
All three of them doing it. So, that's what Hannah's been learning every Wednesday afternoon since September. We rush from school to home, inhale dinner at 4:30, rush to dance, rush to community group, and get home around 9:30pm, utterly wiped out. But it sure is fun, watching her dance.

It makes me tired, too. :)

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Hey there! Things are great. We had a terrific storm last night around 1:00AM but aside from pounding rain and brilliant lightening, we weren't too troubled.

Here are photos I took last night of Hannah with the Sixth Grade Choir at Canyon Middle School. Hannah has participated in school choir since third grade! Morris Vader (Vah-der) is their teacher and does a fantastic job.
Hannah is a soprano, by the way, and the whole group sounded angelic! I was extremely impressed. Ms. Mary Nell and Madison came with me to hear. Below, you see Hannah with two girl friends.
Hannah with Mr. Vader.
And here's a quick image I snapped this morning before work of our new flowers. Fortunately they weren't shredded by the hail last night! They won't be thirsty for a long time...
GREAT news! I've received all the money I need for my trip to Turkey in June! THANK YOU to all who gave so generously and quickly!! I stand amazed. It never ceases to amaze me. Love, Rachael

Friday, April 13, 2007

Greetings from south Texas! It's a gorgeous 80-something degree day here. My favorite thing to do right now is ride my bike around my neighborhood and breathe in the scent of freshly-cut grass and look at all the flowers blooming in people's yards. Hannah and I will buy some plants this weekend and make our humble contribution to "spring fever" lawncare.

Above, you see the logo I created for WIM's international conference in August, in Kerrville, Texas. We've been working feverishly all week to get over 4,000 letters and brochures mailed out for this conference. I'm so proud of my brochure! It's the best I've ever done. It's nice to know my skills are improving, especially when I recall sitting in graphic design class 10 years ago, thinking, "I'll never do graphic design for a living." Never say never! :)

Below, you see the most darling cherub in the world, my nephew, Eli. He is about a year and a half old. I took these pictures of him on Easter Sunday at his house in Lake Park, Georgia. We'd gone to church and had lunch at Mom and Dad's house and spent about two hours with my cousins before leaving to go be with Chris's family for the afternoon. Big Mama's party had been the night before, and I'd gone to bed a little after 1:00AM.

There are hundreds of photos I could post from our celebration of Big Mama's 90th birthday, but these of Eli were my favorite. He's so difficult to photograph, too! He never sits still.
Here's one shot of Big Mama sitting with Mrs. Geraldine, my uncle Wayne's mother. They were watching 13 great-grandchildren hunt Easter eggs and not paying attention to me at all. I think it's the best photo I've ever seen of my grandmother!

I'm reading A.W. Tozer's "Knowledge of the Holy," which is his book on the attributes of God. A very weighty book! And it's not even 200 pages. Of course, it doesn't cover ALL the attributes, but it's still great material to meditate on and I feel it has already changed the way I pray.

I'd write more but I'm so far behind on work and it's 20 minutes before I leave to get Hannah from school. It's been a hard week, but it got better, and today and yesterday were great! I love my job!!

Have a good weekend. RLC

Friday, April 06, 2007

Camellias: heavily perfumed, gorgeous flowers that grow on large bushes in the South. An older couple who lived at the end of West Cranford Street when I was little (eg., under 8) had tons of these bushes, and we (my sister Jenna and I) would pick tons of flowers and bring them home to Mom. She was always worried that we were stealing flowers but really, we would never do that.
These are camellias growing about the yard of the oldest house in Valdosta. The yard is huge, unpruned, uncared for, and I love it. The house itself is a disappointment; some committee has fixed up the crumbling, peeling house and repainted it, so it has none of its old degraded beauty. But I stomped around the property anyway around 10 this morning, clicking away with my camera, searching for interesting shots. It was a whole uninterrupted 90 minutes of solitude. Ah.
Below, you see the back of the house. Looks haunted, right? The trees are great; I love 'em. Anyway, it was fun. My goal was to photo all the old houses downtown and then meet Craig at his studio and maybe get a few shots of him with his work.

This is a house right across from the one above. This one is inhabited, and is still in the process of remodeling. It has this weird turret-thingy poking out from the wrap-around porch.

Moving on across downtown: I parked (illegaly) behind Ashley House, a retirement apartment building, and crossed Ashley Street to get some good "industrial" images; old business signs, interesting textures to use at work, whatever.

This is an abandoned (?) warehouse which had that sign "POLICE NO1577" spray-painted on it every few feet. I don't know why, but thought it was worth photographing. The one below is a cool lock I found on one of the doors. I like locks.

Here's the whole facade: I shot individual pix of the painted bricks up close, the individual words, etc. etc. but wanted one whole image as well.

Moving on, because it was time to meet Craig, I took a few fast images of the old Army/Navy Surplus Building on Patterson Street. Jenna got her first (and only) pair of combat boots there back in the late 80's or early 90's, whenever they first became popular. The store's closed now but I'm sure every photography student at VSU has shot this building for an assignment. Curiously, I never did while I lived here. But now I have the strong urge to photograph and capture images of the town I used to live in. Nostalgia.

This almost looks like a painting to me.

The greatest thing is, the steps lead to nowhere. Where DID they go, back in the day?? By the way Krissy, if you ever read this, all of these images you're looking at are posted just as they were shot. I was really practicing getting good exposures.

Now we come to Craig! Craig Hawkins is a good friend and fellow art major from VSU (my second stint at VSU). He married the lovely Donna, and paints for a living. Check out his blog at Recently the planets aligned and Valdosta actually remodeled the old GoodWill building downtown and turned it into an art store/gallery downstairs and the upper floor was chopped up into studios which rent at decent prices. I'm sick with envy!!
Here's Craig with some of his work:

Donna found him this wingback chair, and in Harry Ally fashion, Craig painted it. Mr. Ally has a similar one in his office in the VSU Art Dept. There's a drawing of Donna beside him.

Craig goes through a lot of "looks," and this is one of my favs. He looks so "artsy," to be perfectly lame and cheesy. I'm so glad to have such cool friends. Our time was short, but sufficient. He had to get home and eat lunch and get on the road to ATL. He had several paintings in a show opening tonight.

So those are a few of what I took this morning, between 9:30 and 12:00pm on Good Friday. I'm home for my Big Mama's 90th birthday party, 50 people will show up at Mom's house tomorrow around 6:00pm for dinner and festivities, it's 12:34AM and I should be asleep, but I had to tell my story. It's made me so happy.
My sister's here and we watched the History of Motown and Rock n Roll on Biography. Great stuff. Mom's downstairs, finishing the German chocolate cake. Hannah's sacked out. Dad's listening to the Allman Brothers outside. They (he and Mom) had to take Thelma, their black lab, to the vet today, to have her put to sleep. It just happens that today is also the day that Dad and Jenna went and picked her out as a puppy and brought her home, nine years ago. So, it was sad. They only have Louise now, the blonde. Thelma and Louise. They were indeed a pair.
Happy Easter, my friends. I miss you in Texas, and I'm so glad to see you who are here in Georgia.

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