Do dogs go to heaven?

Interesting find in my morning reading. I have just started in the book of Ecclesiastes, which is attributed to King Solomon in his old age. Interesting for me to learn that more recently the book that I grew up learning as Song of Solomon is now referred to as the book of Wisdom in some denominations. Hmmmm

Ecclesiastes 3:18-22 New Revised Standard Version

18. I said in my heart in regard to human beings that God is testing them to show that they are but animals.

19. For the fate of humans and the fate of animals is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and humans have no advantage over the animals; for all is vanity. (A theme used heavily in the first two chapters.)

20. All go to one place; all are from the dust, and all turn to dust again.

21. Who knows whether the human spirit goes upward and the spirit of animals goes downward to the earth? (Some would argue that animals have no spirit. Then what is that light in their eyes?)

22. So I saw that there is nothing better that all should enjoy their work, for that is their lot; who can bring them to see what will be after them?

Interesting thoughts in this passage. Certainly a passage worth considering when thinking about treating our animals in a more humane way. And I am by no means preaching to be vegan in this post. I am speaking of feeding and caring for all of our animals, large and small. They are all part of God’s creation and as such deserve consideration.

That is all, take care and have a blessed Thanksgiving week.

Article for local Paper

This past week it was my turn to submit an article to the minister section of the local newspaper. This is what I put together.


There is a word in the dialect we call German-Russian that our family uses quiet often. I don’t know how you would spell it, but phonetically, I will say it is: “che-geck-ick.” It means nerd or nerdy. Somehow that word holds far more weight and impact than to say that something is nerdy.

Sitting around the Thanksgiving table and sharing what we are thankful for would in our house be that word. We are all just too modern and cool for that sort of behavior. Yet what better time than Thanksgiving to share a moment with those whom we are closest? What better time to look across the table and tell each other how much you have appreciated their support and love throughout the year. What better time to tell your parents how much you look up to them, or to tell your children how much joy they bring to your lives?

Instead we stress about the arrangements. We fret because of eating times and travel plans, and if the gravy turns out as it should. And mostly we are so self occupied that we don’t even take the time to listen when someone slips a little sentence of thankfulness into the conversation.

We are afraid of becoming nerds; we are actually afraid of becoming vulnerable. We try to keep our heads up and stay self-sufficient. We want to think of ourselves as strong, independent and stoic. We are the stuff of our ancestors.

But we forget that with the strong, self-sufficient and stoic attitude our ancestors brought two more important things to this prairie land they settled. They brought their hard red spring wheat, and they brought a strong belief in God. They understood that it would take both of those things to survive in this area.

I will take a chance and suggest that maybe our grandfathers/mothers and great grandfathers/mothers were not afraid to lead their families in a round of “What I am thankful for” around their tables on Thanksgiving Day. They understood the importance of acknowledging the role that God’s grace plays in our lives, a factor that many of us, too, understand.

I hope that we can all take some time on Thanksgiving Day or in the week to come, to give thanks to God for all we have. Psalm 67:6-7 “The earth has yielded its increase, God, our God has blessed us. May God continue to bless us; let all the ends of the earth revere him.” That is what we as Christians need to continue to give thanks for and to pray for, that all the ends of the earth would revere him who created us all, even the nerdy parts.


Living in the “Sticks”

On my other blog: lucindagardens, I have been doing a month of Thankfulness posts. As I look through the posts I follow on this site I, again, realize how sheltered and sometimes clueless I am in this corner of the world. It was almost thrown at me one day as I was visiting with a couple of hunters who stopped in our area. They said they really enjoy hunting around here rather than closer to some of the bigger cities in South Dakota or especially near some of the areas that have been featured in the Dakota Outdoors or some of the other hunting magazines. Their comment was that it is more fun when you are in the real “sticks.” I guess that is what you could call us, “the sticks.”

We are away from any “major” city by at least 100 miles. We are 6 hours away from any of the places that could be considered a mini-metropolis, and it is 12 hours to Denver and nearly as far to Minneapolis depending on the route you take. The only thing that makes us closer in time is the fact that you can travel 75 mile an hour on our Interstate highways, which sometimes means you won’t get arrested for going just a hair over 80. Then you find out that most semi-truck tires are not guaranteed for speeds over 70. Wow!!

Here we are in the middle of nowhere and yet we see the news. We hear the reports of what is happening around the world, and it saddens us. But in this sheltered prairie, we watch the sunrise and set, take care that the kitties don’t go outside when the hunting dogs are running, and we hope the twin deer make it through the season to raise a family by the creek next year. Life is about hearing the pheasant call in the morning and hanging the clothes on the line when the wind isn’t out of control.

Church is where we pray that the trustee and the treasure make it through their surgeries, and that the deacons are successful in repairing the ceiling tiles before the Conference Minister comes to preach the message for Mission Fest. It is where we talk about our children who live far away, and wonder if any of us will be here for Christmas Eve service or if we will all go to join family in other places. Community is when we all show up for a benefit to help out a clergy wife who is going through treatment for cancer. And just down the road we hear of a group of farmers who run their tractors to a neighbor’s place to put out the fire before it spreads in the wind that is pushing 20+ miles per hour.

I guess tonight I am happy to be living in “the sticks.” I like knowing who my neighbor is, not just from seeing them from time to time, but because I grew up knowing them or because I am learning about them by working with them at the community center when the mobile food pantry comes to town. I like being able to pick up the phone and call someone for their sister’s address to invite her to the next all school reunion, and then asking how her daughter is doing in medical school, and remembering when she and my daughter went to prom on a double date. Here we can almost say, “We are all sisters here.” And though we don’t mean it by blood, we mean it by a felt kind of kinship.

Growing up prairie isn’t something that some would want to do. Growing up frontier prairie was something that very few were able to handle. When this area opened up to homesteading, it brought all kinds. Some made it and some didn’t. Of those who proved up their land and eventually owned it, many didn’t stay. It was the stubborn, tough, unique type of person who made it, then bought out those who didn’t want to stay.

Those are the ancestors of we who live in “the sticks.” I am proud to be one of their descendants. Today, as I listen to the wind, and realize what it must have been like to listen to that sound while living inside a sod house, I am more than proud. I am thankful for the house that my great-grandfather built in 1917. Thanks Adam, Sr. for a house that is strong enough to endure the winds today as it did when you built it. And thanks for giving us a spirit tough enough to survive in these “sticks.” I don’t believe that I could ever be any other place. What was it that Dorothy said? “There’s no place like home!” Home in our sticks…

Tuesday tasks

Boy I really need to get on a major project. Lately the more free time I have the less I do. At least I got the mail and picked up packages for my sister and aunt. The former was her cap and gown for her graduation from her masters program in education. I started mine when Jessica was about three or four, she is about to turn 30 and I have all the class work but an unfinished thesis. I should have listened to the whole language professor on my committee. Oh well it wasn’t to be so that is how life goes.

My big accomplishment today was updating the addresses for the reunion booklet. James and I walked the rest of the cemetery on Sunday and found more of the deceased dates. Adding that to the booklet might seem like a waste to some, but it is my idea so I will get as many as I can.

Not much else here. The weather has turned colder, but with Roger tight against me I feel like it is July. Take care for now.

Events of Monday

Today I spent the day cleaning at my mother’s house only to find out my sister from Wishek was planning to come and do that later this week. Rats!!! I would gladly have stayed at my place doing laundry and other things. Oh yes, I did my laundry. I even made a decent supper for a change. I went all out and peeled potatoes, and cleaned carrots and chopped up zucchini to make a vegetable medley. It was quite good. The potatoes were boiled to mash up and add toppings as you choose, but the zucchini and carrots and frozen from the garden beans were steamed with just a touch of butter and brown sugar on them. Put a hamburger steak on the plate beside and a piece of cream cheese pumpkin pie in a graham cracker crust and well, I wasn’t looking for a snack later. Oh, never mind, I had an apple. Tomorrow might be a good day to get outside and walk this off. I thought we were supposed to have bad weather today. My ankle kept saying it was getting colder, but when I put on a heavy coat to go outside, I was surprised by how much I didn’t need it.

In fact the air wasn’t even cold enough to make me feel chilled after working up a sweat while vacuuming and sweeping at my mother’s house. I did feel like a good soak in an old tub though. We really need to use that enamel fixing kit on our old tub. I may have to try that out. I promise to keep the camera near by to show just how it turns out. I have several of those nearly finished or need to be done projects. Paulina and I talked about a few of them today. I want to get them finished and if I can’t find a use for the finished item, I will pass them on to anyone who will take them.

Just paused to check the weather forecast. It says there is a 50 percent chance of rain here. Hmmm, I guess we are in the dry 50. It is supposed to be cooler tomorrow, warmer Wednesday then drop in temperature. I knew I could feel something coming on my ankle. I guess if it really does get as cold as predicted on Thursday and Friday, I will be moving the plants from the car shed to the basement. What a pain. I think this year I will have to do some transplanting. The terracotta pots will not be coming inside. They give up too much moisture and ruined the top on a dresser last year. Well, this is all fro now. Have a great day!!

Barrenness to Birth Pangs

Our message in church today was taken from the scripture of I Samuel 1:4-20, Hebrews 10:11-14, 19-25 and Mark 13:1-8. The title was: “Barrenness to Birth Pangs.”

Our title today points us to the Old Testament, I Samuel scriptures, but I want to open by sharing a reading that I found in our library of Minister’s Annual Manuals. I am not even sure they are printed any more, but I will tell you I appreciate them, and today I would like to start by sharing part of a story from this one dated 194-1995. It deals more with what we read in the Hebrews and Mark, scriptures which point to the end times. Read it… (pgs. 146-147). This was a story about a Rev. Miller, who lived in the 1800’s. He was part of the major revival movement in the USA and believed that the world would end in 1843. He later adjusted his findings to 1844, and finally was sent out of the church and died excommunicated. It was an interesting story.

Reading this made me think back to some times in our life-time when we have had predictions that the end is near. I remember reading a book called 666 when I was in high school. It was a story about the end of the world, and was geared towards young people to make them think that it was going to happen in the near future.

Then I remember the Jim Jones cult in South America, or what about the group in California who thought they would be taken up in a space ship? How many of us remember all the hype of the turn of the century. Everything was going to shut down because nothing would work when the clocks turned over, and all of the money spent on that was for naught, and most recently all the predictions of the Mayan calendar pointing to the end of the world. We don’t know when it will happen.

Jesus taught his disciples that the time was at hand. He wanted them to be at work as if the coming were in their lifetime. Some commentaries suggest that Jesus really believed the time was near, and perhaps that is the right answer. It could also be that he wanted them to be vigilant and busy, and spreading the Good News as quickly as if they had no time to delay. We too need to think that way. Not that we need to stock up piles of food or supplies or prepare our physical mind set for the idea that the end is near.

But instead we need to prepare our spiritual lives for the idea that the end is near. We do not know the day or the hour. We don’t know it collectively for the whole world, and we don’t know it individually for ourselves. There are those who say that as we age, we should take stock of our lives and be ready for the end, for death. But seriously, death is not just for the aged; we have seen all too often in this community, recently, that death is not prejudice, it takes anyone at anytime.

An interesting remark was made by the minister of the funeral we were at yesterday. He said death is the one thing that we are all going to experience, guaranteed, unless of course we live to the end days. But his point was that death is coming for everyone, and no one will have to be jealous that they were left out. This is one thing that everyone will be sure of experiencing. But my intent was not to turn to a morbid topic. I simply want to point out that as Jesus was telling his disciples the end is at hand, we see the urgency of sharing the good news, the gospel and the love of Jesus with others around us.

Our story in I Samuel today is the story of Hannah. She may seem like just another wife in the scriptures who turns out to be barren. We read that story of barrenness from Sarah through Rachel all the way to Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist, and Hannah is there in the midst. Hannah like Rachel is not the only wife and so her husband is not at all upset, he has other children. He loves her very much and is not concerned that she is without children to raise. But for Hannah this is a terrible – almost a curse that she is childless, in fact she is constantly ridiculed and harassed by the other wife. Now days, she could probably call bully and find justice.

We might look at this story and see it as a bargaining with God story, and when we interpret it that way, it should give us problems. Hannah prays fervently, and in those prayers we do hear a form of bargaining. She prays for a child, but says if her wish be granted, she would give the child to be raised in the temple to be God’s servant. We could look at it that way, and if we did, we might see that God can be manipulated, and that we are able to bargain with God to get our way. I will be honest that I don’t really like that interpretation.

We might also see a barren woman coming before God and offering herself to his service. She is a woman with nothing, or so she believes, who says to God that she is willing to conceive and give birth to a child that she will raise briefly, train up for a short time, and then return that child to God’s temple to do God’s work. Hannah rather than bargaining in her barrenness, offered herself to God’s will, to God’s service. If you read the rest of this story, you know that those intended to lead the temple, those intended to do God’s work at prophet for the people were evil, and God needed to remove them, but there was no one to fill the position until Hannah, beloved, barren Hannah, came to the temple and offered herself as God’s faithful servant.

Jesus suggested that the signs of the end times were not really the end of the world, but the birth pangs of the new and better world to come. Hannah’s offering changed her barrenness to birth pangs. And by the way, she didn’t bargain that let me have children and I will give you the first one. No she offered to bear a child that would grow up to live and serve in the temple. She never mentioned any future children, though she was blessed with more children later.

I would like us to look at today’s scripture in light of two things. First off: Next week we are at the end of the lectionary year. We are at the end of the church year. We are at the end times. Second: Next week is our Mission Fest celebration. What does all of that mean for us, to us, collectively and individually? How close are we to end times? Where are we on the scale from barrenness to birth pangs? What does barrenness mean to us? Is it numbers, is it finances? Is it projects? At what point do we consider ourselves too barren to exist?

On the other hand, have we reached the birth pangs of something new, something more, something different? What can we be that is different from what we were? I don’t have that answer alone, and I have been asking this question for a time now. Or, it has recently occurred to me that maybe we already are something different. Maybe we already are in the birth pangs of something new, and we just haven’t realized it yet.

Today’s scripture could easily lead us to forget about our day to day life and make us focus solely on prayer and worship and meditation about the second coming. And it is good that we spend time in prayer and scripture reading, but life as we know it, does go on. Jesus said that it is not ours to know when the world ends or even when our time in this world ends. He told the disciples that only God knows the day and the hour. As we wait, as we prepare, it should not be with a defeatist or end all attitude. There is still much work to be done to spread the news of God’s love and grace.

The Upper Room on Friday had a neat little adage in the boxed up part. It said, “When you give your heart to God, your hands will follow.” We need to remember that. We need to remember that for worship and for the days we spend outside of these doors between our Sunday morning stops to worship. When we give our hearts to God, our hands will follow. What we do on the everyday, how we treat others, the words that come from our mouths, the generosity we extend to others whether it be in a tangible or financial way, or simply in the kindnesses we show is related to how much we truly love God. It is related to how much we are willing to give to share God’s love with others. Let’s be extra generous in offering ourselves both this week and next Sunday when we come to worship at Mission Fest. Amen.

Proverbs 28, some samples

Here are a few select verses from Proverbs 28.

6. Better to be poor and walk in integrity than to be crooked in one’s ways even though rich.

19. Anyone who tills the land will have plenty of bread, but one who follows worthless pursuits will have plenty of poverty.

27. Whoever gives to the poor will lack nothing, but one who turns a blind eye will get many a curse.

Ouch, I am always nervous about the intention of that last one. I am always wondering if I share enough of what I have. In fact I know that I do not. I am one of those who feels I worked hard for what I have and why can’t others work hard. Yet in truth I know that for some it is circumstances. And then how do we know if the beggar is scamming us or really in need? Perhaps the best answer is to give to a reputable group that is able to discern those in need from those who are trying to pull a con. It has also been suggested that instead of giving money to those who are begging, give a meal or a drink of some kind and a card with an address that lets them know where shelter and help can be found in a safe, near-by area.

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