October 29, 2010

26 Devotions Based on the Alphabet: The Letter H



Monte Holland

Several persons have expressed an interest in having my husband, the Rev. Monte W. Holland, post an online series of devotions. Through their encouragement, Monte will post a weekly devotion on CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS. To read the introduction click on 26 Devotions Based on the Alphabet: Introduction. Click on  26 Devotions Based on the Alphabet: The Letter G to read the previous post on the letter G.

Return to this site each Saturday to read his devotions.  Carolyn C. Holland



Honor your father and mother, that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God gives you. (Exodus 20:12)

     A central tenet of the Christian faith is the Great Commandment : love God, neighbor and self with heart, soul, mind and strength. In a sense the faith is a three-dimensional relationship—God, others, and yourself.

     The current day practice of the faith often strongly tilts toward a two-dimensional relationship—between God and self. Self-fulfillment, every person for themselves, and freedom from the constraints and expectations of family, government, and society in general, seem to permeate religious practice inside and outside the church structure.

     Our H verse serves to remind us that relating to God can never be separated from good relationships with others. God has used our parents as a conduit to our entry and growth in this world. God has used us to be the conduits for our children. In our case, one of our children is adopted. God still uses us as a conduit for our daughter’s growth. God expects us to honor our parents. This is honoring God as Creator. This verse starts a process of thankfulness for all of God’s creation—our lives, the lives of those around us, and the whole created order.

     The term embedded became part of our vocabulary with the term embedded reporters, used in the Iraq War. The reporter in the midst of conflict was expected to fully experience the war and share that experience with others.

     God has embedded each of us in this world. Thankfully, our parents introduced us to this world and set our direction toward the future. No matter how well or poorly our parents performed the task, they got us started. It is up to us to acknowledge our start through our parents, and to ultimately recognize God’s grace. It is up to us to build on this and find our purpose in the world we live in. Jesus helped us by claiming the centrality of the Great Commandment.

     Do we seek that our days be long in this world? It all begins with honor and thanksgiving to our parents and to God for the start of our life. Then it is up to us to continually honor our parents for the start they gave us by living as responsible persons in this world—using our gifts to make a unique contribution back to God by upholding and enriching the lives of others and by respecting the rest of God’s Creation.

     Is this all part of honoring father and mother? I think so. After all, who we become will contribute in part to how our parents are remembered.

To read 26 DEVOTIONS BASED ON THE ALPHABET: THE LETTER I, click on: 26 Devotions Based on the Alphabet: The Letter I


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26 Devotions Based on the Alphabet: Introduction

Fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath

A Father-Daughter reunion after 30 years

Two Photographers Named Cornell



October 28, 2010

Tarantulas—Ooh, So Halloween Creepy



Cochran Cornell the Cantankerous Cockroach

     I was taken aback when I read about the Coarsegold Tarantula Awareness Festival that celebrates the black and brown, doughnut-size spider each October on the Saturday before Halloween.

The shoulder of my creator, Carolyn Cornell Holland, is a cozy place to be on a crisp fall morning. That’s where I was on October 21, when I noticed the newspaper article she was reading.* The sub-headline, Creeping in California, didn’t prepare me for the content—about a goofy lady, Diane Boland, 61, who started this festival in 1997 to atone for crushing a tarantula with her car.

Pix Source Below

The festival time was chosen because the tarantula’s mating season, October to November, peaks on Halloween

Now I’m certain that Diane has disposed permanently of, dismembered, or disabled one of my ilk, a German cockroach. Why didn’t she begin a festival to honor us? Don’t we qualify for being creepy enough for Halloween? Aren’t some people terrified of us? This terror has even been named: katsaridaphobia—fear of cockroaches. Although why humans fear us to that terror level seems extreme to me. They have such misconceptions. OK, so we are hyper-speedy and prolific. And we can sometimes potentially cause of disease and create filth (a rumor, I say, a rumor). Or perhaps they just fear insects in general. Humans simply have a lack of healthy respect for us.

It’s just not enough for someone to create an institution that honors us. You might see why I fumed when reading that the tarantula is celebrated but we cockroaches are not.

Sometime I’d like to make a tarantula movie. The horror of their gruesome activities would certainly inspire compassionate human beings to boycott Diane’s festival, especially if I depict a scene of how they digest a meal: Tarantulas don’t have chewing mouthparts, so what they do is (more…)

October 25, 2010

Orange is so Passe—Go for the White Pumpkin!




New England Discovers the White Pumpkin

Ligonier, PA, Discovered it First

      Orange is so…yesterday.

     Here in New England, white pumpkins, once a novelty, are becoming increasingly common…*

     Hmmm…I never thought I’d say this, being a New Englander, but Green Mead Farm in Ligonier, Pennsylvania, was ahead of the race, by seven years, at the time I wrote an article for the Ligonier-Latrobe section** of the Tribune-Review about the lunar pumpkin.

     My husband Monte had just retired. By July 1, 2003, we were starting our full-time life in Laurel Mountain Borough, about five miles from the Green Mead Farm in Ligonier Township farm in Ligonier Township. By the end of July we on the road to New England for three-month vacation that would include much genealogy/writing research.

     My daughter Sandra had discovered the white orb a couple of years earlier. In 2002, she took me on a pumpkin excursion with her then six year old daughter, and so I had my first view of the Lunar Pumpkin. I had made arrangements to write the news article before we left

      The farm is a growing mecca for people seeking the unusual—an unbelievable, spooky white pumpkin… I wrote.**

     Meanwhile, Beckius linked to a Martha Stewart Living picture of a white pumpkin, noting that they’re elegant unadorned as a table centerpiece. The picture was taken in 2003. She’s always ahead of the curve! Kim Knox Beckius, editor of the About.Com: New England Travel e-mail newsletter, wrote, noting that these intriguing white orbs are all the rage when it comes to (more…)

October 22, 2010

26 Devotions Based on the Alphabet: The Letter G



Monte Holland

Several persons have expressed an interest in having my husband, the Rev. Monte W. Holland, post an online series of devotions. Through their encouragement, Monte will post a weekly devotion on CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS. To read the introduction click on 26 Devotions Based on the Alphabet: Introduction. Click on  26 Devotions Based on the Alphabet: The Letter F    to read the previous post on the letter F.

Return to this site each Saturday to read his devotions.  Carolyn C. Holland



      Give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For the measure you give will be the measure you get back. (Luke 6:38)

     This series of alphabet of Bible verses is intended to cover the gamut of physical and spiritual expressions of our faith. In preceding verses we dealt with acknowledging our sinfulness (Romans 3:23), showing concern for others (Galatians 6:2), sharing our burdens with God (1 Peter 5:7), establishing a stronger relationship with God (James 4:8), praising God (Psalm 100:4), and dealing with fear (2 Timothy 1:7).

     Our G verse moves us in another challenging direction.

     We hear the preceding six verses and at least nod our heads, even if we aren’t ready to live them to the fullest. Stewardship is another matter. Perhaps we handle stewardship of words and time, but stewardship (more…)

October 21, 2010

The Gospel Truth



Monte W. Holland

      Is everything you read on the Internet the “gospel truth?”

     Recently I received a forward from my brother-in-law, one of a number that he forwards each day. This one caught my attention. It purportedly explained why Mr. Rogers always wore a sweater. Intrigued, I clicked it open. It contained material about Mr. Rogers, Bob Keesham (Captain Kangaroo), and Lee Marvin. 

     It didn’t take a lot of searching to discover that not only was the information wrong, but that it had such a large (more…)

October 18, 2010

Can Poppy Seed Ingestion Affect Drug Tests?



     Is it possible for poppy seed ingestion to cause a positive drug test?

     The question arose when I read the news stories about the Elizabeth Mort’s three-day old baby being removed from her home because Mort had a positive drug test she attributed to eating poppy seeds. The baby was removed by Children and Youth Services in New Castle, Pennsylvania.

     After reading the stories, I did what I always do—went to the Internet, being cautious what sites I looked at. Even with this caution, I found little of what I consider authentic material, from respected medical resources. reported several cases.

  • In 1990, a St. Louis police officer was suspended after his drug test was positive for morphine. He was reinstated with (more…)

October 16, 2010

Baby Removed from Home after Mother Eats Poppy Seeds




A Pennsylvania House Bill 2760, passed three years ago, allows hospitals to test a mother’s  blood to protect newborns.

  • Children and Youth Services removed Elizabeth Mort’s three day old child from her New Castle, Pennsylvania, home because the mother tested positive to opiate use.
  • The ACLU believes Jameson Hospital and agency workers made a judgment without thoroughly investigating.
  • Mort’s positive test was due to her ingestion of poppy seeds, which can influence drug tests.

     Jameson Hospital may have gone too far by failing to consider what Mort might have eaten. (read Can Poppy Seed Ingestion Affect Drug Tests?)

     “One thing I think is a violation is the fact that Lawrence County CYS immediately got a court order without the parents present to remove a newborn baby based solely on the hospital’s report of a positive drug test,” said Sara Rose of the ACLU, noting that CYS may have violated the law.


     This isn’t the first time Lawrence County’s Children and Youth Services overreached their powers.

     While living in New Castle in the latter 1980s I came to know a woman I’ll call Sylvia. While five of her children were removed from her home and placed for adoption she remarried. A child was born from this union.

     I was closely involved with Sylvia, and worked with her, teaching her to overcome a number of problems. She was a good “student,” and had the Children and Youth Services helped her in this way, she would not have needed me. Instead, they (more…)

October 15, 2010

26 Devotions Based on the Alphabet: The Letter F



Monte Holland

Several persons have expressed an interest in having my husband, the Rev. Monte W. Holland, post an online series of devotions. Through their encouragement, Monte will post a weekly devotion on CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS. To read the introduction click on 26 Devotions Based on the Alphabet: Introduction. Click on      to read the previous post on the letter E.

Return to this site each Saturday to read his devotions.  Carolyn C. Holland



For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7 KJV)

     What do you expect of God?

     Certainly we don’t expect an all-powerful God to shroud us in fear. I like the way the Contemporary English Version of this verse says it: God’s Spirit doesn’t make cowards out of us. The Spirit gives us power, love, and self-control. We anticipate God’s Spirit to be present and to empower us, to fill us with love, and to help us live respecting and honoring our God.

     Large segments of our society wallow in fear. Businesses flourish by convincing us that their product will save us from some hazard that we should fear. Television ads use scare tactics.

     The award-winning movie, Bowling for Columbine, did a masterful job of painting a picture of fear at work in our society.

     This F verse is important in our Bible verse arsenal because of (more…)

October 13, 2010

October 13, 2010: The San Jose Mine Rescue



     As I write this post, the following is occurring:

    The 25th miner to be rescued, Renan Avalos, 29, is on his way up. Renan’s younger brother Florencio was the first miner to be brought to the surface just after midnight on Wednesday. He decided to come to work in the San Jose mine four months ago.

     I interrupt my writing to view Renan Avalos’ reunion with his wife. The BBC commentator noted that there is amazing discipline among the press, who are unwilling to invade the privacy of the miner’s reunions, yet who know the whole world is participating in the event unfolding at the San Jose Mine in Chile.

     For me, it’s been a day of distractions characterized by an inability to focus. Partially, it’s that this day follows five hectic days. Two days were absorbed by Fort Ligonier (PA) Days: photographing its ninety–minute parade, manning our Beanery Writers Group table, and enjoying festival concert. On Sunday my husband Monte and I traveled to Harrisburg for a conference on poverty, which ended mid-afternoon on Monday. Leaving the conference, we headed to Minersville, where I finally met two fourth cousins—Bob and Allen Borinsky—who filled me in on some family history. We left Minersville, ate in Pottsville, and found a motel room a little further on. Tuesday morning we took side routes—not the interstate—back to Laurel Mountain Borough, arriving in time to attend Mellow Mike, where I was guided some writers in practice writing about structures.

     It seems coincidental that Lawrence Borinsky, the grandfather of Bob and Allen, died in a mining accident in Minersville. He was 27 years old. He left behind a two year old son, William a.k.a. Vince, the father of the two brothers.

     So perhaps my restlessness is due to tiredness.

    Or perhaps it’s due to the fact that the date is the thirteenth—even though it’s Wednesday, not Friday.

    However, a large part of the distraction is a deep-seated need to participate in a global celebration—good news, for a change—surpassing that which happened at the Quecreek Mines in July, 2002 (QUECREEK MINE DISASTER: A 21st Century Historical Site in Somerset County, PA).  Then, nine miners were rescued—a miracle. Although I lived about twenty miles from the site, I watched in New Jersey, where I was visiting my sister, Kitty.

      Today, thirty-three miners are being rescued. Is one rescue scene more miraculous than the other? Not really…but as the world (more…)

October 11, 2010

David, Our German Exchange Student: Part 2



To read David, Our German Exchange Student Part 1, click on David, Our German Exchange Student: Part 1.

    We laid some ground rules—basically, we weren’t going to do things for him we didn’t do for our own children. We wouldn’t play a wake-up game with him. He would have to get himself up in the mornings. We presented him with an alarm clock.

     Neither would we drive him to school. As my children learned, if they didn’t get ready on time, they would have to go without a note the next day.


     It was Wednesday when Jared knocked on our door. It was dinnertime at his house, and David was expected. David was sleeping, so we had to awaken him, and he doesn’t wake up easily.

     I walked across the street to the neighbor’s house later that evening.

     Rene and Tom said David spoke about getting a driver’s license during dinner. Rene seemed in favor of the idea, and was encouraging Tom to take him out for practice. I was less enthusiastic, wondering if he could get a Social Security card.

     Jared, David and I played Uno for a while. David asked if he could spend the night at the neighbor’s house, since there was no school the next day due to an ice storm. He told me Rhonda said he could, and I responded sarcastically (in fun) that I was in charge. He replied that sometimes old people think (more…)

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