Jaxon time

Jaxon showing off what he picked

Jaxon showing off what he picked

Since I dedicated the day to Ana yesterday, today I will share a few pictures of Jaxon. The first picture I am showing is of him displaying what we picked in the garden yesterday. He was quite proud of that. I was a bit nervous about little hands grabbing at plants that are not so sturdy, but he held onto the peppers as I cut the stems, and we were good to go.

Jaxon washing the cucumbers with Ana

Jaxon washing the cucumbers with Ana

He actually was better at getting the cherry tomatoes than I ever will be. I tried and of course I ended up with extras because me hands are too big for the openings in the branches. Those tomatoes are thick with fruit, and his hands are the perfect size for reaching in and grabbing just the ripe ones. I also am having problems with the bifocals vs. distance lenses to find the cucumbers. We ended up with 5 of those before we were finished looking. Ana in the meantime was digging in the dirt, so some cleaning needed when we got into the house. As you can see from the little thumbnail picture, she was more than happy to help Jaxon wash up the produce. Wash is one of her favorite words. She seems to enjoy the feel of the “sh” sound on her tongue. But enough of her, this is the Jaxon post.

Jaxon reading with Paulina

Jaxon reading with Paulina

This morning he did a little reading with Paulina. I dug out an old “Dick and Jane” book that I bought at a school auction sale many years ago. I was thinking that I have three copies, but I am not sure it is of this version. At this point he is able to read many of the basic words and only needs help with the names and a few others. Paulina was amazed at how he recognized some of the longer words in the text. Yesterday he and James worked in a sticker book on some counting and math sort of things. He loves to do math problems, and last year in kindergarten his teacher had to go to the first and second grade teachers to get math papers that would work for him and a couple of other boys because they were so bored with the work that was at their level. Now if he just gets after the reading in the same way. Perhaps now that he has his glasses it will start being a bit easier, though I think they are more for far away at this point. Hmmmm sounds real familiar. I still have trouble with far away and even with bifocals, I am getting to the point where reading, at least at the computer distance is easier without glasses. But remember this is the Jaxon post. Ha!! Well, just wanted to share this bit of fun with Jaxon. There is more about the garden on the lucindagardens site. For now take care and stay cool!!

Ana Antics

Playing with Jessica's shopping cart on Thursday.

Playing with Jessica’s shopping cart on Thursday.

Before we head outside today, I will finally post a few pictures of the grandchildren in action. Yesterday was way TOO hot to even think about outside activities so we did a few things inside. I will have other pictures with a Jaxon page, but for now I have three snap shots of Ana that are worth sharing.

This first one is Thursday morning. She really is good about picking out a toy and playing without needing adults all over her. She is also saying words that we can understand, besides all of the other “stories” she tells that we sometimes are clueless about. The reason I say stories is sometimes she talks about a mile a minute and we can’t catch everything that comes out. Some of her favorite that we have noticed are: stop, catch, watch, pants and I do myself. At the pool on Tuesday she was playing with some “fish.”


At the counter on Wednesday.

At the counter on Wednesday.

Mostly she is a good eater. She uses her own fork and spoon and often wants to be in on choosing them. James is having a bit of a time with her independence, and I gave him a bit of a what-for yesterday about trying to conquer that. Independent, strong women is what my family does the best job of raising, and I for one and glad to see it moving into the next generation. Reminder without the women, the German-Russian men who came to this frontier would have had a much more difficult time in surviving. So enough of the lecture for today.

Eating supper on Tuesday

Eating supper on Tuesday

I will leave you with this picture of Ana having some lasagna one of her two helpings, which in hindsight maybe should have been cut back a bit as it gave her a little indigestion. Of course her mother told us that the blueberries we fed her on Monday might have been the big problem. I guess next time we get an official list of what can be eaten and what cannot. This morning she was back in action eating waffles and eggs for breakfast. Currently she is busy putting on shoes so we can go outside to hang the towels on the line. We were dancing to the songs on my phone, but grandpa called to say they had moved up the times for summer school to end because of the heat, and so he will be home earlier. Maybe we can manage another day at the pool, believe me I could use a bit of a cooling off. Well this is all for now. Hope you all are able to stay cool.

Grandchildren visit

So, James and Paulina had this great plan on Sunday before church that we need to go to Dickinson and pick up the grandchildren for the week. Now I was having fits earlier this summer that we should be doing that, and as I left the car to go inside, I was all in favor. What we did not stop to think through was how prepared we were. Some things to ask include: Is there a place for them to sleep comfortably and safely? Is there kid friendly food in the house? What obligations do you have during the time they are there? What is your back up plan in case of an emergency? Of course none of that was done. We hopped in the car after church and headed up to Dickinson to pick them up. Nate was sort of funny when we got there he said all three or nothing. Well, sorry but David is not able to leave his mother at this time, so maybe down the road in the future.

So far things have been hectic, but they are both so good to have around, and they really have been so cooperative with these old people. I believe we would all have enjoyed the week more had the weather been just a bit cooler. This is one of the hottest weeks we have had in years. Add to that some issues with our little campsite, and its power capabilities and my stress level is pretty much through the roof today. Hopefully the work the power company did today will alleviate the headaches.

Ana styling in her goggles.

Ana styling in her goggles.

We did get to go to the pool yesterday, and I have a few pictures of that outing. This one to the left of Ana was the best of several that I took. When she tried to put those goggles on she kept screaming, “My eyes, my eyes.” It was hilarious. She loved wearing them too. Most kids have a fit and want them off. We also went the evening before and she was shivering and almost purple, but would not get out of the water. I would have loved to take them today, but it was so hot they would have burned up.

Jaxon was scared of going in the water without a life jacket, but with the use of some bubbles and I being right beside him, he was able to get it figured out. He can stand in the 3′ with his head well above water and is able to move around fairly well. He went down the slide and learn to jump from the side, feet first. I have a series of pictures of him going into the water, but it took him jumping in three times for me to get it.

Taking a run

Taking a run



In the water.

In the water.

I will try to put together some posts of other events as the week goes. I am figuring the posts won’t really show up until they have gone back home. It is hard to write and enjoy them at the same time, and the closer it gets to taking them home, the more I realize how much I will miss them.

I do have a few pictures of the garden over on lucindagardens. It has been so hot that watering is not a necessity it is a fact of garden or no garden. In the meantime, the plants are growing almost in front of our eyes.

Message from July 17, 2016

The scripture this week was Amos 8:1-10 and Luke10:38-42 and the title was “Seek the Word of God.”

My absolute favorite kind of literature is frontier literature; you know them, the stories about the settling of the American frontier. I figure it is because I loved listening to the stories about Laura Ingalls Wilder when I was in school. In our one room school-house out there south of Artas where Darel Bentz now lives, our teacher read to us every day after lunch. And as soon as I could read, I read them for myself.

When I got older and was working towards a Master’s Degree in English, I read books about the frontier people who settled North and South Dakota. They were books like The Grass of the Earth by Aagot Raaen, set in Hatton, ND, and is about a family who suffers horribly because the father in an alcoholic. Land of the Burnt Thigh was written by two sisters Edith and Eudora Kohl, who homesteaded south of Pierre and survived because they kept a post office in their home. There were books about Knife River, ND where they found coal almost on top of the ground and because of that, they didn’t worry about wood for winter or twisting hay to burn to keep them warm, and the wives were large Russian women who pulled the plows because the husbands couldn’t afford a horse or an ox.

IMG_8246And there was Frontier Woman by Walker D. Wyman about Grace Fairchild and her family as they homesteaded near Philip, SD. I think this is the one where a child died because the parents were out working, and the children found the gun and were curious about how it worked. And my favorite of all is a book titled, The Land They Possessed by a mother and daughter writing team with a pen name of Mary Worthy Breneman set in this town initially called End of Track now known as Eureka.

Those were stories about hard working families, who settled this land, but more so to me those were stories about how people over came their own adversities and still were able to show an exceptional ability to be hospitable to others. They were all written in a way that made me feel like I was sitting in the room with them, and I wanted to just keep reading on and on to learn more and more of what they had to teach me. I wanted to learn more about their lives, the things they did, the foods they served and what they believed in.

Today we have such a story in the gospel. We have a story that shows us a home, a family who must have seen adversity, even though it hasn’t been stated outright, we know it. Here are two young women, old enough to run a household, yet no family of their own. They are living with their brother, who too is old enough to take a wife, but no wife of his own, his sisters run his house. There are no parents; they are living just the three of them. Adversity must have been part of their lives. Yet they are hospitable. They are welcoming; they are planning a feast for a group of friends. Yet considering they are humble people, they have had the courage to invite Jesus, the young and promising teacher, healer, possible Messiah, to their home, and as the story starts we see Martha is getting things prepared.

I don’t want to go into the same old boring story about who is right in this argument. Could it be Martha who is doing all the work, which some of us maybe can relate to, or maybe it is Mary who is sitting at the feet of Jesus, the teacher and learning, as someone we, would all love to be? Imagine just to sit at his feet while he was on earth preaching and teaching and here he is in their home for an intimate evening of food and fellowship and relating to this family and a few close friends. Imagine what it must have been like to be there.

I don’t know about you, but I kind of know what Martha is saying, and without going into lots of detail, I will just say that yesterday her frustration sort of hit me. When you have an event, when you host something or chair an event or even just help on a committee, it seems that so many things are planned for, and yet at the last-minute someone is left tending to the details and “boom” the event is over and everyone is gone, and as you sit down to rest, or begin the work of clean up, you realize that you missed out on major parts of what was happening because you didn’t take the time to join in the celebration, the message, the particular details of the big event, or just the visiting that goes on at such celebrations.

You—in essence—missed the whole thing. I have been there more than once, and I have had to let go of my, well, almost resentment of that loss. I sort of had that feeling yesterday afternoon. I knew this was coming, but I had not prepared myself I suppose because I couldn’t figure out how to accept it. The large crew of workers staying at our campsite has broken up. One camper pulled out on Friday and two left yesterday with more to go either next Sunday or sometime this week. We have new people moving into their spots today, but this was our first real group, and they were fun, and I had really wanted to say good-bye to the crew leader’s wife, and they were gone before I got off my couch to go across town, and … I just felt this incredible loss last night, and I began to wonder about Martha.

Martha came to Jesus thinking that she needed to complain about doing all the work alone, and Jesus scolded her for having her focus in the wrong area. I have always taken that scolding as an affront. Martha was doing this, yes so she would look like a good hostess and to do things in the right way, but let’s cut her some slack, Martha wanted the best for her guests. And by wanting that, and delivering that, she sacrificed herself. She is the one who gave up time with the Messiah, time with the Master, time with her Lord. But when she went to Jesus for some help, for some assistance so she could finish up on time or at least in the right way, he scolded her.

Yet when you look closely at that scolding, which I sort of did in my dumpy mood last night when I went home to supper after talking to one of the campers, I realized that Jesus wasn’t scolding her to say her work was worthless, but to point out to her what she was missing. Jesus wasn’t trying to say that what she was doing was totally unnecessary, but he was letting her know that she should also be thinking about herself and what she was giving up. Martha needed to take some time to learn at the Master’s feet. Jesus wanted her, he wants us to come to him and learn his truths. We are to take the time not for busyness, not for distractions, but to learn about Jesus and all he has to offer to us. Mary got that and for that reason Jesus praised her.

In the beginning of a week as I am looking at and studying about the various scriptures we are presented with, I don’t always get the connection from one week to another, but sometimes, like this week, it is sort of over the edge obvious how things tie together. Last week we talked about “worry about yourself,” and really that is what Martha should have done more of. But last week was also about the concept, the commandment of love the Lord your God above all else and love your neighbor as yourself. Well, when we look at our Old Testament lesson in the book of Amos, we get right to that neighbor thing again.

This chapter 8 in the book of Amos begins with a “look what I am holding sort of thing.” As Amos looks at what God is showing him, he sees a basket of summer fruit. This basket is a symbol of the harvest. They are at the end of a season. As we read on we see that the people are having a fit about “when will the new moon and the Sabbath be over so we can go back to doing business.” The business being mentioned must be somewhat like our modern-day elevator system that purchases the harvest from the people. Though, if you were listening to the scriptures, you heard how they were anxious to get back to business because they were anxious to be able to defraud the harvesters. They were dishonest in how they measured the amounts. They had fixed the scales to their advantage, and God lets Amos know that he knows what is happening, and he is not pleased. In fact, God is sending information via Amos about how the Day of Judgment is coming against the people because none of them are honest in their dealings. In fact, the last verse that we read in that passage said the judgment will be so bad, it will feel like the day of mourning for an only son… bit of a premonition there? … Maybe.

This is certainly not a story about hospitality. This is not a version of what is the proper thing to do in terms of serving the feast or learning from the honored guest. But this is a story about how to treat your neighbor, your acquaintance, your business client. We for sure get the picture from this passage that to cheat the one who is coming to you as a customer, a neighbor, a friend, is not the way that is acceptable to God. How much more should we understand this as the way to treat those who come to us to learn about the words of Jesus, the teachings of Christ.

I so badly want to relate to Mary who is sitting at the feet of Jesus learning all there is to learn about what he is trying to teach the world, and yet I see the Martha in me oh so obviously. I am the person who is always too busy, too distracted, with too many things going on to really stop and learn what God wants me to know. And more important than that, while being that kind of tisk-task busy and distracted no matter how much we say we are doing things for others, we really are not being the neighbor that God needs us to be, the love your neighbor as yourself real Christian.

This week as we go about our business let us remember two things: 1. that God demands us to be honest in our dealings, and 2. Christ expects us to take the time to sit at his feet and learn his lessons that we will be able to carry out his mission on this earth, which is to love our neighbor as ourselves. And let’s seriously try to do this without all the distractions that come into our lives. Amen!

A fixed roof!! And some misc…

New roof on upper deck

New roof on upper deck

We finally bit the bullet and found someone who could come and fix the wind damage to the upper deck. We were paid by the insurance company a set amount a couple of years ago, and so far we can’t even remember what they gave us, but the tar paper finally wore through at the last rain storm and it dripped onto the porch, so we figured that was our sign. Actually we had the materials ordered, but we were delayed by the rain.

Lower area outside my bedroom.

Lower area outside my bedroom.

I love how it looks and with all the work James put into vacuuming up the shorter deck top, we have a beautiful spot to sit outside on the roof if we feel so inclined. I may just have to figure a couple of chairs to put in the area for that very purpose. They are not quite finished as you might figure from the position of the downspout. They will be putting gutters on next week or soon. Their machine was out of the area, so they were not able to do that yesterday. It might be fortuitous because when the helper was along yesterday, he noted the condition of the steps (seen against the house upside down in the photo to the right) or not steps as I call them. He has a plan to make a set of real steps to go from the lower to the upper area, which will be quite nice. I am actually excited about all of this and hope we will be able to spend some time there in the future. We used to have our swing (now the old swing) in this area, and perhaps if we fix it up perhaps that is a possibility again.

wee cucumber

wee little cucumber

Oh yes, on my other site, I forgot to post the picture of the little cucumber I found today. Well here it is. For more information about the garden, head over to lucindagardens. If we have the sunshine predicted for the coming week, we should start seeing some serious produce. Hopefully it will get in ahead of me watching the Summer Olympics, which is the main reason for the new television shown in yesterday’s post.

James keeps asking where we are going for a vacation, and today I told him I am going to Rio and my hotel room is my couch! Enough for now. Enjoy the outdoors while you can!!

Shopping spree

Just hope the TV in the box fits the shelf and that the one on the shelf fits the area upstairs. HA!!

Just hope the TV in the box fits the shelf and that the one on the shelf fits the area upstairs. HA!!

Paulina and I headed to Bismarck on a quick little, girls only shopping craze today. She was after some better fitted sheets for the bed we swapped from the basement to her room, and I was in search of a bigger television. Here is the thing, I want the TV we currently have in the main living room for the bedroom. It is bigger, has HD and does NOT buzz. I keep hearing an electronic sort of buzzing in our house. Paulina hears it too on occasion, but some are telling me that it is just my ears going bad as I age. If that is the truth why don’t I hear it in the church office or outside. There is something about a couple of our super old electronics that are buzzing and it is going to be replaced. We haven’t unpacked the box with the new television yet. We are probably not going to get to it until Sunday evening if we have the patience. James is heading for the Droog reunion in Bismarck tomorrow with his sister Alvina. I am opting to stay home and work on the Sunday message. Good excuse, besides Paulina has to work, and I just felt James would enjoy it more if I wasn’t hanging beside asking “who is that” every five minutes. The other issue is that on Sunday three of the campers at the campsite are heading south. I will be sad to see them go, as at least one of them was starting to feel like someone I enjoyed knowing. Well, the boss who arranged to come to our campsite passed my phone number on to another crew leader and we will have three campers moving in on Sunday afternoon hopefully after the others pull out. What a deal. Well, that is all for now. My computer is updating and about to restart, so I best finish. Oh yes, for more information on the garden check out my lucindagardens site. See you all later!!

Samples from the newly cleaned bookshelf

I am sharing a couple of things today. First I wrote up most of this little article for the newsletter at church this month. In the meantime, I have cleaned out the bookshelf in my home office and have found even more books to dig through and look at and share. Before I begin, I will tell you that the push for me to do this has come from the idea that I have not seriously read anything since we returned from living in that little rental house in Linton. For some reason I have not been able to sit down and read because it feels like I am wasting time. What a strange idea!! I guess for me reading has always been a luxury, and what I do read now is mostly for study and not really for fun. Well, the new plan is to trick myself into thinking that I am reading to study and so, I will complete a chapter a day during my morning devotion time. IMG_8229Hopefully this works, at least for now. So, here are some pictures of what I started reading today (left) and what I was meaning (right) when I wrote the article that appears below.

Church Newsletter for July. Rather than drone on about the weather or the season in this July newsletter message, I have decided to share a couple of little poems and prayers with you. I purchased A Pocket Prayer Book several years ago at a Conference Annual Meeting. I noticed this year there is no such “book store” at these meetings anymore. I guess it is another loss that comes with our advanced technology. All these items are now available via the internet and can be purchased with plastic and delivered to our doors. The whole convenience has actually made me stop purchasing. I find it much easier to look and move on without ever typing in those magic codes from my credit card. I also don’t really trust putting my information out there on a computer device. On the other hand, once my fingers touch a book and open it and smell its pages and look at it closely, it is so much harder to lay it back down. After I have done all of that, I am much more likely to reach for my green cash, but I carry on too much…

IMG_8231The book, on the right, that I am sharing about today was compiled by Ralph Spaulding Cushman and was first printed in 1941 by The Upper Room. I have included that information to give credit where it is due as a good English teacher does, and hopefully I am not committing any copyright infringements, but rather promoting the book, though I am not sure where you find it now.

Here are a couple of resolutions taken from page 24. They came from the diary of Jonathan Edwards a frontier evangelist that one of the founding denominations of the UCC claims as their own. “Resolved: that every man should live to the glory of God. Resolved Second: that whether others do this or not, I will.”

I also found the following poem by Albert W. Palmer on page 25. “All this day I am going to be a child of God. His love is round about me. Underneath are the everlasting arms. I am going to be honest and true in all events of life and I believe that to those who love God all things work together for good. I am going to rise above all worry, fretting, fear and hatred, and live in an atmosphere of spiritual serenity. Behind all that comes, God’s love and wisdom will be present to strengthen and sustain.”

My final comments for today are o’ if we could all just resolve to do each of these each day, what a better world we would live in. At the least we can cause an effect on our part of the world, so that is our challenge for the rest of the month. May you have a blessed rest of July!!

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