All entries have been submitted to the Iowa State Fair Photography Salon. Now it’s up to the judges to go through over 3,000 entries and select the award winners and exhibited photos. Notifications will go out in July to let photographers know if they’ve received an award and/or have photos displayed during the Fair’s run August 11-21. Just to be exhibited is an honor, since less than 30% are displayed.
One of my four allowed entries among 24 categories was in the Panoramic class. Since the one was already submitted, it is included with three other possible submissions. Which one would you pick (if any) to submit. The other three have never been submitted, so your choices may direct a future submission. Thanks for the help.
A – Snowy Retreat
B – The Edge of Night
C – Sunset Reflections
D – Winterset Wreaths
Leave a comment below or on the Facebook page from which this blog was linked.
This year’s Photography Salon’s special theme category is “The Open Road.” In addition to three other different category submissions, I entered one of the below for this special theme. Not saying which one I submitted, but there were some other options. Which one (if any) would you submit?
I’ll post my four submissions in July after the acceptance/rejection notices are sent out.
My brother-in-law, Harry W. Thomas, has a sound mind and healed body as he came into the presence of Jesus Sunday evening. Suffering from dementia and heart disease for the past 7+ years, he has been reunited with his daughter, Amy and all the saints, who have preceded him.
I was eleven when he married my sister. Because I was the youngest and only boy in my family, he was my second brother-in-law, and I was overjoyed to have new “brothers” as reinforcements. In addition to having another guy to play Sunday afternoon hoops in the backyard, “Butch” added a rural dimension to our family. While he and my sister worked primarily as radiology technicians, he grew up on a family farm. That remained in his blood and they tried their hand at farming several times. But he ultimately advanced to the level of nuclear medicine technologist and for a while he and Valerie traveled the country as locum professionals, serving six-months temporary staffing positions in hospitals.
I won’t say that he corrupted me, but he did give me my first Swisher Sweet cigar to smoke. Then he gave me half box of cigars that unfortunately was confiscated as soon as they were discovered by my parents. Hunting was a passion and because we were not a hunting family, I never shot a firearm until Harry joined the family, and he gave me my first target shooting lessons. I even wore a John Deere cap as a teenager because of his influence.
He loved to eat and some of my best memories with Harry are centered around meals, whether at the family home on Barron where Mom prepared a big Sunday dinner or at the Thomas home in Arkansas where we shared many Thanksgivings. Mom always gave Harry one of the larger ice-tea glasses (likely to cut down of refills). On one occasion another brother-in-law noticed the disparity in his glass size and Harry’s. I think that brother-in-law received a larger glass at the next meal.
When Mom was at the hospice house, Valerie stayed during the duration. Harry came up for a short time, coinciding with “National Fried Chicken Day” (July 6). All day, he reminded us that for supper we were going to have “friiiieeed chick’n” (say that with your best Southern drawl). And we did. Throughout the meal he repeatedly said this is “gooood fried chick’n.” That was about the time that the dementia was becoming obvious and it was diagnosed shortly after that.
His love and laughter were both large. He always made a big entrance, and I’m sure he did the same yesterday evening! And I hope he was served some “friiiiiieeed chick’n.” I’ll see you later, Harry!
Like my daughter, Anna, it’s been over a year since I have blogged. Maybe I’ll be back soon, but until then I hope her words (which truly reflect my heart and mind during this last year) will resonate with you and give you HOPE! Please click on her link but if not, I will include the complete text below.
It’s been over a year since I have written anything in this space and longer since I’ve written any kind of blog at all. A year ago when I last wrote, it was Easter and the shock, fear, novelty, and uncertainty of COVID-19 and quarantine was still relatively new. My inner Anne of Green Gables […]
It’s been over a year since I have written anything in this space and longer since I’ve written any kind of blog at all. A year ago when I last wrote, it was Easter and the shock, fear, novelty, and uncertainty of COVID-19 and quarantine was still relatively new. My inner Anne of Green Gables heart still thought it would all pass..and really I still can’t understand why it didn’t. Secretly, a year ago, I was actually enjoying permission to never leave my home.
Everything is different now.
Since then, so much has happened in our world and country: George Floyd, race riots, loss of life to Covid, crushing fear because of Covid, a contentious election, the capitol attack, a bizarre snow storm in Texas, property loss, job loss, friend loss, faith loss…
LOSS. LOSS. LOSS.
Some have suffered on the macro level along with everyone else. And for many of us, there have been micro level every day normal life losses. My dog spent her last hours my arms earlier in the winter. My mom has descended much more deeply into the horrific throws of Parkinson’s Disease after battling it now for most of my life almost half of her’s. A cursory scroll on any social media tells me I’m not alone.
And I’ve been quiet.
I have always had all the words…and I just don’t anymore.
I’ve been quiet because I’m processing. I’ve been quiet because it is a new world that tells us we must process publicly and loudly. It is a new lie that tells us a computer screen is the appropriate place to work out our feelings and emotions and heart breaks. And if we don’t, we’re somehow COMPLICIT in the evils of this world.
I’ve been quiet because I’m scared to use my words. I’m scared of more loss, more anger.
I’ve been quiet because we forgot about nuance, America.
I’ve been quiet because we forgot about respectful and inquisitive discourse.
I’ve been quiet because it’s all so loud out there. It’s loud and angry and unforgiving. One misstep, one “wrong” question and you’re canceled, but not after you’ve been completely attacked and maligned.
I’ve been quiet because I’m weary. My husband always jokingly asks me if I’m weary versus just tired. Because to me, they’re different. Tired can be fixed with some sleep. Weary, is deep in my bones and soul. Weary comes after struggle and wrestling. Weary is what I am.
I can’t keep up with the new rules and my legs are weak from running after them. Is this what middle age is?
Again, I have a feeling that I’m not alone.
So here I sit on my yellow couch, staring at new growth outside of my window, wondering why my neighbor chopped down his perfect front yard tree, and snuggling with my naughty awful Beagle. My brain is full of the words I can no longer figure out how to communicate…
And I’m clinging to what I know is true.
The only thing that is not shifting for me is God: both mother and father, savior and redeemer. Reconciler. Healer.
The fact is, I don’t have answers right now. I never did. But I do have God. The Holy Trinity. And I know that’s not a popular concept. I saw a Twitter repost the other day, “If you wonder why people are leaving the church right now…..” fill in the blank all the ways the church has messed up. And we have. We have messed up. For the entire life of the church, we’ve messed up. (I mean…have you read all of Paul’s letters to the New Testament church?)
I don’t wonder why people are leaving the church. They always have. They always will. I could write about Biblical illiteracy and the chance that some who talk a real big game never even knew Him. I could say all the things and maybe I will later. The fact is God has never been popular. It’s not my job to make him so. The world crucified his son, bloody and abandoned on a cross.
But! I’m still clinging to Him. I’m still asking Him to change me. I’m still ever grateful for grace I never deserved, still don’t deserve. I’m still watching him move. I still see miracles…mainly small ones, mainly miracles deep in the crevices of my wicked heart. But I will believe. God is my very breath. And this is not toxic cheap Chrisitianity or positivity speaking. This is desperation speaking.
Oh friend, this is my prayer for you, me, the collective us, our children and families and churches..that we peel it all back and find that God, Jesus, Holy Spirit is enough. I pray you’ll experience Him in the deepest parts of your spirit. That whatever kind of grief shrouded the last year and whatever hurt you’ve walked through with humans will be mended in relationship with the Divine.
I’m clinging to the words of Jude to the New Testament church,
But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit,keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.
Be merciful to those who doubt; save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.[f]
To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore!
Just touching base with you all as we begin another week of limited gatherings. The reality is that these restrictions of gatherings less than 10 may be longer than just 15 days. While we pray for this pandemic’s effects to flatten out, it continues to grow in the U.S.
With that said, we continue to look for ways to “do church.” Thanks to all who participated with us in online worship on Sunday. We are sorry for the initial audio problems, but had most of it worked out by the second song. If you missed the service, a video with those first 8 minutes clipped is available HERE. We found that some needed to “refresh” their browsers in order to deal with screen freezes. We’ll continue to work on improving our online broadcasting.
Another observation is that we are relational people. God created us to be in community, and this is testing so many of us who are feeling more isolated. Even the most introverted among us still needs relationships. In some of my reading this week I came across this statement: “One hundred years ago, French sociologist Émile Durkheim used the phrase ‘collective effervescence’ to describe the shared emotional excitement people experience during religious ceremonies.” Although, online gatherings are a poor substitute for in person events, one of the things about Sunday that was so good to see was the interaction happening in the comments.
Because we are relational, one of the most beneficial exercises we can do for ourselves is to reach out to others. While we don’t need research to validate the Word of God, again and again it has proven what Paul said in Acts 20:35: “In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” Send a text, make a call, drop a card, invite someone to dinner, deliver some groceries or baked goods, take a meal…do something that will help maintain the relationships you have and build some new ones!
Finally, let’s be creative. After all, we were created in the image of God and His first act was to create. What are ways in which we can utilize social media, create new ministries, etc., in these days of social distancing? Ask God to give us fresh ideas that will carry us through these challenging times and beyond!
As I was looking for wildlife on a late afternoon drive on Wednesday, I heard the unmistakable song of an Eastern Meadowlark. On it’s migratory path through Iowa, I think most move on toward Minnesota, Wisconsin and Canada for the summer. Hearing before I saw it, my eyes (and lens) finally found it on a utility wire, throwing its head back every time it let loose with its flute-like melody. After it flew away, I continued my drive only to hear another Meadowlark a few miles away. This one lighted on a cedar and sang away.
Tonight as spring begins, we have thundershowers. Both the bird’s song and the storm cause my thoughts to run to God’s Word and its directive to praise the Lord:
7Praise the Lord from the earth, Sea monsters and all deeps; 8 Fire and hail, snow and clouds; Stormy wind, fulfilling His word; 9 Mountains and all hills; Fruit trees and all cedars; 10 Beasts and all cattle; Creeping things and winged fowl; 11 Kings of the earth and all peoples; Princes and all judges of the earth; 12 Both young men and virgins; Old men and children. 13 Let them praise the name of the Lord, For His name alone is exalted; His glory is above earth and heaven.
(Psalm 148:7-13, NASB)
So in these days of so much uncertainty, take a cue from creation and sing your praise to the Lord…for we never know when we will wing our flight to worlds unknown.
There’s within my heart a melody; Jesus whispers sweet and low, “Fear not, I am with you, peace, be still,” in all of life’s ebb and flow.
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, sweetest name I know, fills my every longing, keeps me singing as I go.
Though sometimes He leads through waters deep, trials fall across the way; though sometimes the path seems rough and steep, see His footprints all the way.
Soon He’s coming back to welcome me far beyond the starry sky; I shall wing my flight to worlds unknown, I shall reign with Him on high.
While I’m trying to work out logistics for maintaining a church ministry presence in the coming weeks of COVID-19 shutdown, I’ll let my daughter, Anna, take up residence here for a second day.
This is a new and unexpected experience for some parents…homeschooling. If your school is expecting your child to continue the learning process from home (and even if they aren’t), here are some tips from my daughter, Anna, to help you in these weeks to come.
*Upfront. I realize not everyone has the luxury of staying home with their children right now. I am extremely sensitive to that and am eager to be a part of helping those in our community who don’t have the advantages I do. That said. Dear COVID Homeschool Moms, Congratulations! You tackled your first day! Or […]
We left town on Monday for Spring Break and while we were gone full-blown Covid-19 panic moved to town and took up residence. As we got closer to home yesterday and closer to rush hour, I could feel an insidious worry taking root inside of me. This wasn’t about the disease or fear, it was about the fact that we had a post vacay food situation: no milk, juice, bread, low pasta supply (the only meal all four of my children love) and very little cream (YIKES!!!).
When I went to Trader Joes, (admittedly not the best idea) it was crawling with people and FULL buggies. And also there were so many empty shelves.
My tinies spent an hour basically decorating a box of gold today…(luckily it was part of my monthly amazon delivery).
How do we love our neighbor during war, famine, and disease?
Finis Ewing Harris, Jr. was the oldest son and named after his father, an attorney and judge in Cookeville, Tennessee. “Finis,” Latin for “the end,” was a fitting name for the father, who was the last of 12 children. However, the name was a misnomer for the first of three sons born to Finis and Margaret Harris. Finis was my wife’s uncle. One she never knew because of his service to our country. One whose grave she never nor her family ever visited. One who laid down his life in the defense of his “friends.”
When WWII came, all three sons wanted to do their patriotic duty and the older two were fully trained and deployed to the battle. It was reported that Finis completed his advanced air training at Pampa, Texas, where he received his wings in the U.S. Army Air Force in May 1943. He went to England in August 1943, piloted a B26. He was later transferred to a B-17 Flying Fortress with the 305th Bomb Group (Heavy), nicknamed “Can Do.” The Group base was at Cheverston, England, from which they flew 337 missions in 9,321 sorties and dropped 22,363 tons of bombs. During their tour of duty the Group lost 154 aircraft.
Stories of Finis’ final flight were somewhat muddled when I came into the family. Myra, my wife, thought the plane that Finis piloted crashed as he was on a training flight with his replacement pilot. A bit of internet digging three years ago led me to a much different story. Thanks to the websites Find a Grave, American Air Museum in Britain, Sywell Aviation Museum and other searches, I was able to piece together the real story of his crash, as well as update some sites with the information they lacked.
Although a page is missing from the crash report from the lone survivor, this is what I have been able to pull together from various reports on Finis’ death. He was a part of a bombing run over Kassel, Germany on December 15, 1944, where 344 planes had successfully targeted the town’s railway marshalling yards and tank factory. However, his plane sustained major flak damage and Finis piloted the B-17 back to the base with the number one engine out. Flying in “zero-zero” weather conditions, Finis and another B-17 flew in tandem back over the coast of England. Concerned about his ability to land the plane, Finis told the crew to bail out if inclined. Only one, the tail gunner, did. While trying to land using radio beacons, both planes hit the wires of the Air Ministry Gee Mast at Borough Hill, Daventry. The Gee Network was a system of radio beacons that were used by pilots to navigate over Germany. The other plane was able to fly through the wires and land with bits of wire still attached to the plane. The farmer, into whose field Finis’ plane crashed, saw it hit the stay of the radar mast in the fog. A wing was ripped from their plane, and the plane hit the ground a few seconds later. He and the eight remaining crew members (John Griffin, R.L. Mason, Laverne Ridge, Herschel McCoy, Cliff Melton, Robert L. Burry, Willie Barnes, and Charles Nordland) were killed in the crash.
On August 23, 2015, a memorial plaque was unveiled, located in the garden at Daventry War Memorial. In attendance were Sgt. Burry’s son, Peter Searle, and granddaughter, Rebecca Saywell. Burry was the ball turret gunner and Peter’s English mother was pregnant with him at the time of the crash, delivering him six weeks later. Additionally, an excavation of the crash site was conducted in recent year and items from the site were displayed at the Sywell Aviation Museum in Daventry. Items included the navigator’s hat that was taken from the original crash site by some school boys.
Tragically, Finis’ younger brother, Cpl Perry Rowe Harris of the 498th Bomber Squadron, 345th Bomber Group, (B-25), was killed in action on November 12, 1944 in the Philippines just weeks before Finis. His death notice was received at Christmastime, preceding his brother’s by a week. This news report comes from their hometown newspaper.
Judge and Mrs. Finis E. Harris received a telegram this week from the War Department stating that another son, Lieut, Finis E. Harris, Jr., was killed in England on December 15, 1944. Only last week, a message was received by Judge and Mrs. Harris from the War Department, stating that Cpl. Perry Rowe Harris was killed in action on Leyte, in the Philippines. Another son, Mark E. Harris, who is in training in the Army Air Corps, in Nashville, is seriously ill with pneumonia. Judge and Mrs.Harris have the sympathy of the people of Cookeville and the entire Upper Cumberland in this sad hour. The three brothers volunteered for service in the Army Air Corps.
Putnam County Herald, Cookeville, Tennessee, 1/4/1945
Finis was buried at the Cambridge American Cemetery. Apparently at the time of their deaths, only Finis could have been returned for burial in the U.S. Their mother, Margaret, said of the decision to have Finis remain in England: “It would not be fair to bring one son home and not the other.” However, every time she heard the whistle of a train that was known to be bringing home the remains of a Cookeville native son, she wept over the loss of her boys.
Thus, the brothers lay in graves half a world apart and to our knowledge no relative has ever visited their graves. However, I am indebted to fellow blogger Amy Maranto. After seeing her photos of the American Cemetery in Cambridge from an early 2019 post, I emailed her about Finis. She said that a trip would be planned again in the next few months and that she would take some pictures. Additionally, I asked her to be the family proxy and leave a penny on his marker…the symbol of a loved one’s visit to the grave. Not only did she take pictures, but so did her daughter, who was working there as a school experience. Amy wrote: “When next of kin visit, they clean the grave marker and rub it with the sand from one of the Normandy beaches. Since she was going to be hosting a visiting next of kin family the next day, they told her to pick a marker to practice putting the sand in. She knew I was working on these photos, so she chose Finis to clean.” The sand she chose was from Omaha Beach!
Finis and Perry are among the approximately 130,000 soldiers who are interred in 27 American military cemeteries in ten foreign countries, managed by the American Battle Monuments Commission. Over 90,000 U.S. service members, who were missing in action, or lost or buried at sea, are memorialized at these cemeteries. Still thousands of other military dead are in unmarked or mass graves and private cemeteries. I wonder how many of those soldiers, like the Harris brothers, have never had a family member visit their resting places.
Thanks to our Veterans, who have sacrificed so much as they put their lives on the line in the defense for ours and our allies countries. Thanks to the families, who endured periods of absence of their soldiers. A special word goes to those families who mourn their sons and daughters, who gave the ultimate sacrifice. ” Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13 (NIV).
I appreciated my church allowing my wife and me to take off a long weekend in February. It enabled us to go to Fort Worth for two reasons. Of course, seeing the grandchildren was tops, but the second reason was just
Anna with Al (1982)
as special to us. Several months ago we received an invitation to celebrate the 90th birthday of Al Anisowicz, who we have known for 40 years. Al and his wife, Robbie, were some of the first people we met at North Fort Worth Baptist Church while I was in seminary. We had a 10-month old daughter, who we entrusted to Robbie’s care in the nursery while we went to Sunday School. She and Al then “adopted” Anna and additionally our other two daughters, who were born during our time there, as their granddaughters. Their own grandchildren were not in Texas, so our daughters met the need they had to “love on” some babies. We have maintained that relationship over the years and they even made two trips to Iowa as Al played in senior softball tournaments into his 70’s.
Me, Al, Anna’s daughter, Charlie and Myra
It is not a misrepresentation to say that Al and Robbie were the main reasons we joined that church. Yes, I wanted good, biblical preaching, but that was available in a number of churches that were much closer to the seminary. However, we were away from family and significant connections, and this retired couple reached out in significant ways to show the love and care of Christ. For that reason, I was compelled to give some time, travel and TLC to the man, now a widower and dealing with cancer, and reciprocate the love he showed to my family and me.