Opening state track

imageToday is the beginning of the state meet. We have a great view.

Garden progress, or not

Blooms are forming.

Blooms are forming.

Full bloom

Full bloom

A few posts back in my post roll is one titled, “Indoor Plants.” In that post I mention the Amaryllis and show a picture of the stalk thick with a bloom. The first picture above is of the same stalk a few days later, and the full bloom is what I found three days ago. I wanted to post it right away, but life here has been pretty hectic, and when we are home, I find myself just able to crawl into bed and sleep. By the way, this is one of two large blooms. I positioned the shot so the other bloom was blocked by this one, why I have no idea, I just did. There is also a tiny little third bloom trying to open. Perhaps a different angle will be warranted when it does.

A few other plants in the house that would love to get outside include the peppers and the tomatoes. The temperature and wet weather are not allowing us to do any planting at this time. When it was warm enough to put it in, the ground was so dry that there is no way the plants would have survived. Thank goodness we didn’t try as then we had all the snow and the cold and everything would have died. I am happy to report that the potatoes have re-sprouted and the peonies are looking quite good, but we are expecting another shot of frost tonight, so not real sure what will be happening with any gardening this year. Here are some pictures to update you on where we are today.

Tomatoes on the plant.

Tomatoes on the plant.

More than just blooms.

More than just blooms.

Tomatoes and peppers waiting for the garden.

Tomatoes and peppers waiting for the garden.

Garden today

Garden today

Temperature was below 40 F

Temperature was below 40 F

Potatoes are back

Potatoes are back

Peonies doing well.

Peonies doing well.

Asparagus is up as are the cosmos.

Asparagus is up as are the cosmos.

Rose bush in the bag is waiting to be planted.

Rose bush in the bag is waiting to be planted.

 

 

What is that sound?

The picture below sort of shows off my mentality this past week. I nearly went out of my skin as I walked into the closet last night passing the yarn stand and seeing this as I looked down. I small bit of brown yarn has fallen out of its skein and dropped onto the floor. I noticed the tail and was sure there was another mouse. I haven’t really slept since the night of the mouse. That was Tuesday morning in case you didn’t read that lovely post. Oops, I see from a check back that I didn’t write that post. I may as well do it now. Maybe if I share, the haunting will go away.

a mouse of yarn

a mouse of yarn

It was last week on Tuesday morning. We went to bed on Monday night knowing the weather might be ify, but knowing that Paulina needed to return to Bismarck for her finals on Tuesday and Wednesday. I was sleeping off and on in my room alone. I was starting to get over the cold/sore throat, etc.. that hit me all weekend and James went to the other room to make sure I could rest. About 5 a.m. I woke up to this weird tapping sound. I had a weird feeling it was a mouse. As much as I didn’t want to find it, I began looking around.

It seemed to be coming from the furniture that surrounds our bed. I was scared to open the doors or drawers, but I did turn on the light. By this time I started hearing a static sort of sound with the tapping. I thought maybe the light was beginning to short out. The cats were in and they began pacing. Roger stood on my bed on her hind legs, as in straight up trying to see to the top of the shelf above the bed. She would have jumped up to it, but it is so cluttered with photo that she hesitated.

Finally I began videoing the whole business with my phone. The tapping came and went and the static sound did the same. I was trying to get a picture of Roger on her hind legs and yet I was almost afraid the light would blow up. I was actually hoping the light would blow up and then I saw the flash. It was a mouse, and it ran across the shelf trying to escape. I freaked and screamed! I ran down the hall and woke James. He, thankfully, went into the bedroom and found the critter and zapped it out with the fly swatter of all things. The cats didn’t even stick around to watch.

It was after 6 a.m. when the whole ordeal was over. I wasn’t able to go back to bed that day. We had a track and field meet in Eureka and I drove over around 8:30. It was a good day, our discus thrower finally qualified, so that was a relief. He was happy. I was exhausted when we got home, and still not able to sleep in that room. I cleaned the bed and all of the photos off the shelf. They are still in a square basket waiting to have the frames sterilized. I spent most of Tuesday night awake in Paulina’s room. Every sound I heard, I was sure it was another mouse. Sophia came into the room and stalked around like she was looking for something and that did not help.

I am still a bit on edge about more mice being found in the house. The rest of the family is sure that Roger brought the thing in at about 12:30 that very night. I let her in late, and didn’t look real closely if she had anything with her. I didn’t think she looked like she had something and it is usually evident right away. I just keep thinking that creepy mouse must have run across the bed to get to that shelf, and how did it get the cough drop it was trying to open that made the tapping sound and the crackling? I had them on the shelf beside me during that bout with the cold. Yikes!!

Pictures like the one above have not been helping. The only thing that makes me believe the others is that I have not found one trace of mouse poop to indicate that it was in the house for longer than a couple of hours. Hopefully I will start sleeping again soon. Take care and keep the critters outside.

Ascension Day

The message below is as close as I can get to what I gave yesterday. The scriptures were: Acts 1:1-11, Ephesians 1:15-23, and Luke 24:44-53. Title was so original, NOT, “Ascension Day.”

This afternoon we will be going to the Linton High School graduation, Herreid was yesterday afternoon. I believe Eureka has theirs coming up on Saturday the 23rd, and other schools across the border were last night or even Friday night. Our grandson Jaxon even graduated from pre-school on Friday afternoon. Paulina attended, but James and I had our priorities in order as there was a regional track meet to attend. I hope you see the irony in that.

I mention these events to highlight how some events happen year after year, but not necessarily on the same date and not necessarily as events you find printed out on your calendar unless you have gotten a special school calendar with all of those important dates on them. In fact if it wouldn’t be for the local papers or the internet, I wouldn’t have known when any of those graduations were scheduled. Graduations might be important events in our lives when we have someone involved,  but when we don’t we have to be paying attention to know when they are scheduled, or we might miss out on them.

For the disciples originally and later the early Christians, Ascension day was one of those important days that they celebrated and wanted to know about and be part of, especially the first, the original day that Jesus ascended to his glory. From what we read in Luke it was a day of great joy and happiness to know that Jesus purpose on earth was finally complete, finally fulfilled.

In our house we have at least four calendars hanging in various rooms. I went around and checked them last night and found that about half of them do not have Ascension Day marked. In fact, this fancy new phone that I have has dots on the holidays, such as Christmas and Easter and Labor Day and Memorial Day and on and on, but Ascension Day is not marked with a dot.

Apparently, it is not a noteworthy holiday, or a day of any importance to some people in our “modern” era. I suppose we could expect that from the people who don’t hold any religious beliefs. But it seems to be getting to the point that certain churches don’t bother observing it either. I guess we are just as guilty. We don’t hold a special service on Ascension Day, which was last Thursday by the way. When I checked the liturgy website for our church, it didn’t list anything to use for an Ascension Day service. There wasn’t anything in the archive listing for it either. I ended up using a book we have in the library (Thank You Pastor Dianne for sharing) to give me an idea of what to do. Let’s say I wasn’t surprised. But I was surprised to find that there were no notes at all in terms of research or history or any of the directions for this scripture on our website that are normally in place.

In fact, I was just a bit miffed when I opened one of my books and it suggested that perhaps Luke had embellished the story a bit in his writing of the account of Jesus last words with the disciples. It hinted that the focus should be on the words he left the disciples and not much should be said about the event that happened with those words. It almost seemed that the author of that book wasn’t really willing to acknowledge the fact of the ascension.

OK, I get it that some people are not really comfortable talking about things that we can’t describe or explain in a simple matter of fact way. Not everyone is able to fathom or what is the current phrase? Wrap their head around this picture of Jesus going off a ways from the disciples and disappearing into the clouds. This sounds more like a “beam me up Scotty” sort of science fiction fantasy from Star Trek or Star Wars than a real life experience. And maybe that sort of thing could happen in the ancient times, in Biblical times, but none of that stuff happens now days, at least not around here. Right? Yet we have mathematicians working on a formula to prove the God factor. Really? And we wonder why should we should observe the ascension of Jesus?

I seriously, and I mean seriously, believe there are many things that happen that we can’t always explain in a straight matter of fact way. Why does a thought about someone occur to us at a random moment and then we hear from them in a phone call or someone telling us something about them or some other “coincidence” hits us about that very person? Some of us have talked of these things before. I don’t believe they are just random, and I can’t buy the story that the ascension of Jesus is just a story embellished by the author.

The ascension of Jesus to sit at the right hand of God is the final step in the fulfillment of his purpose here on earth. My mother used to have a fit about this day as being THE most important holy day of the Christian year, and I never understood it until I started looking at why we would observe it. Good grief isn’t it enough that we have a big deal about Christmas and Easter and even Good Friday and Maundy Thursday so why should we have to have another day of celebration around Jesus?

Well, let’s think about it. What if everything else happened in the life of Jesus, but not his ascension? What if he was born, grew up, completed his ministry, was crucified and rose from the dead only to walk the earth forever? Or what if Jesus never was anything more than a man who was brought back from the dead, say like someone in a coma, or resuscitated after an accident or such? What if they took him from the cross and nursed him back to life?

Without the third part of Jesus’ mission: 1) Birth as a human. 2) Crucifixion-resurrection. 3) Ascension to sit at the right hand of God, there is no hope for us. Christmas and Easter are great events for us to celebrate but without the Ascension, we have no chance to join with Jesus in the resurrection.

Luke records that as he was leaving them, Jesus told the disciples that they would be given a power from heaven; they were to wait for the Holy Spirit to come to them to guide them in witnessing about him. These are the words that appear to be the focus of the text. These are the teachings that Jesus leaves for the disciples and for us, that we are to go out and share the message and the mission of Christ with all the nations. But if Jesus had not gone to be with God, had he not left the disciples and sent the Holy Spirit, we would not have that direction and we would not have had the opportunity to also be spiritual beings, to be joint heirs with him in His father’s kingdom..

The resurrection and the ascension are the two points that make Christianity different from all other religions. Jesus is more than just a prophet who lived a moral life and taught people to be just and fair and kind to others. Following Jesus and living what we call a Christian life is more than a code of ethics or a way to leave our mark in the world and then we die and we live on in the hearts of others and in the memories we leave behind, or the children we beget.

Being a Christian, believing in Jesus and all that he was about is more than that. Accepting Christ means that we have the opportunity to join with Jesus in paradise. And it doesn’t matter how many works we have done on this earth. He accepts us as we are just like he accepted that thief who hung on the cross beside him. But, we might want to experience the joy and the excitement and the happiness that the disciples exhibited when they left the area of the ascension. We might expect them to be sad and gloomy like they were after Jesus crucifixion. Maybe not in the exact same way, but you might expect them to be a little down and out knowing that Jesus had left them physically, but they were not sad at all. Instead they were overjoyed. They understood what was to come. They knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but they knew that when it was over they would join with Jesus in paradise. Much like we just sang, casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea. What a wonderful picture to keep in our minds. What a wonderful thing to know that because of Christ’s Ascension we too have a place beyond the here and now. We too have the chance to be more than just a physical human person. We have the opportunity to be heirs with Christ and know the same joy the disciples felt on the day of the first Ascension. Let us go today and share that jubilation with others. Amen.

Frost update

So, I took the proverbial walk of death yesterday morning checking on all of the plants and what has happened to them since the snow. It fell overnight from Sunday to Monday. I finally realized that the rain gauge which showed 6+ inches was holding everything from Thursday at 9 a.m. until Monday around 2 p.m. No wonder! We were sure that everything had died because of the cold. The only thing that I found to be mostly frozen were the little potato plants. I guess we learned our lesson there too. We just can’t put in a garden around here until it is really ready.

Here is what I found.

Strawberries are blooming, even if out of place.

Strawberries are blooming, even if out of place.

Fern peony ready to open. The petals are so soft.

Fern peony ready to open. The petals are so soft.

rhubarb growing slowly because of the cold.

rhubarb growing slowly because of the cold.

Even the hosta is still coming up.

Even the hosta is still coming up.

Trees across the dike. I took these pictures after lots of melting. I wanted to get that snow on the north side.

Trees across the dike. I took these pictures after lots of melting. I wanted to get that snow on the north side.

another angle

another angle

Columbine through the snow at Glenda's house on Monday.

Columbine through the snow at Glenda’s house on Monday.

Snow day

So today is not a day off for anyone, but it is still a snow day. I took a few pictures yesterday, but never did post them. There was a tornado in Delmont, SD. It is a little town of 200 people near Mitchell which is in the south east part of the state. In Europe they would say it is a village. At least that is what I have learned from various exchange students over the years. So here are some pictures of the past two days.

Sophia looking out the window in disappointment.

Sophia looking out the window in disappointment.

Rain puddling in the driveway.

Rain puddling in the driveway.

I took these pictures through the window of my bedroom. It would have been better if I would have gone outside to take them, but I was not going out in that and adding more days to my recovery. Well, I might have done it, but people in my house were not letting me outside. Besides it was pretty cold. Poor trees!

Trees in the rain

Trees in the rain

The pictures above were all taken on Sunday, Mother’s Day. We went to bed knowing that the rain gauge showed over 2″ and that it was wet and windy and cold. We woke to snow. When I sat up in bed, I noticed Sophia on the floor of my bedroom. She moved a bit before I got this snapped. Her head was way down in a pouting position. She wants out so badly, and we wouldn’t let them out last night in the rain. Today, I told her she could go out, so off we went.

Sophia pouting on Monday morning.

Sophia pouting on Monday morning.

Sophia heads out in the snow.

Sophia heads out in the snow.

Another angle of the snowfall on Monday.

Another angle of the snowfall on Monday.

This particular angle is to show you the green coming through the snow. This will be a great fertilizer for the grass. Snowfall at this time of year comes with nitrogen. I am no chemist and don’t know why, but have been told that is what happens with these spring snows. I do know from experience that grass seed planted just before a spring snow will sprout much better than any other planting. It was how we finally got snow in the front yard many years ago.

The raspberry bush through the deck rails.

The raspberry bush through the deck rails.

So as I turned to go inside, I was looking for Sophia. I wondered where she had decided to go first in the snow. Here is where I found her.

Hiding under the table.

Hiding under the table.

By the time I turned around and wondered what happened to her, she was inside the house shaking off her paws. She went straight to the protection of the chair under the table to clean off and warm up. After I got settled with the computer, she came and laid at the edge wagging her tail in frustration. Here are a couple of pictures Paulina and I took.

Sophia

Sophia

More Sophia

More Sophia

Here are other pictures of what the outside in the area looks like this morning.

View from the front porch.

View from the front porch.

I took the following pictures before I went to let Sophia outside. They were also taken through the window upstairs.

Snow on the driveway.

Snow on the driveway.

The snowfilled trees.

The snow filled trees.

Not the yard behind the trees. Perhaps the snow will help the grass seed sprout here.

Not the yard behind the trees. Perhaps the snow will help the grass seed sprout here.

So here is what it looks like at my place, how does it look like where you live?

Happy Mother’s Day Message

This is the printed version of the message that I shared this morning. I will have to say what the I delivered was likely a bit different. At one point I had to find myself in the script to get back on track. At any rate this is the jest of what was said. The scriptures used were: I John 5:1-6 and John 15:9-17. The title was “Are You My Mother?”

First off before we get too far down the line here, I want to acknowledge that today is Mother’s Day. This is traditionally the day we honor our mother and mothers everywhere. Last year we spent time talking about the origin of this day, and I am not going to reiterate that. I do want to address being upset with myself today. I had all these grand plans to have a plant or flower or something to share with you, but illness and cold weather and such put a little monkey wrench into my plans. I still plan to share a few things, but it might have to wait a week or perhaps two before I can bring any plants. I am just glad that services weren’t cancelled because of snow. If you were listening to the weather forecasts the past few days, you might have dug out the snow scoops and boots and put the snow blower in front of the mower in the shed.

Anyway as much disappointment as I feel about not having things to pass out today, I will just have to settle for being thankful that we are all here and not under two feet of snow or hiding in a storm shelter because we have been hit by a tornado as some in the southern part of the US were earlier this week. [There was a tornado in a small town in South Dakota this morning. The only details I know is that only 9 people were

Are You My Mother? is the name of a children’s book by Dr. Seuss. I used it this past winter with a second grader who was having a tough time pronouncing some of his short “o” sounds. I am sure many of you have heard it or read it a few times to a child or grandchild or niece or nephew or some little one. It is the story of the little bird who falls out of his nest and gets lost. He begins to realize that he needs his mother to return home, and starts asking every animal and thing if they are his mother. My favorite is when he asks the large piece of equipment and his answer is a snort. Yet it is that large scoop that ends up picking him up and gently placing him back into his nest so that he is there when his mother comes home to check up on him and feed him.

In looking at some of the dictionary definitions of mother, I found what I expected, and a few interesting things. When I looked at “mother” in the verb form, I found the expected: To give birth to. To care for or protect someone like a mother. Acting as or providing parental stock, used without gender. And—To give rise to.

In the noun definitions there were: A female parent; an old or elderly woman; or—A woman in authority, the superior of a religious community of women; And then there was the adjective form which was: Something of extreme or ultimate example of its kind especially in terms of scale. I guess that is like the mother lode as is used in describing the best of a mine or such. Perhaps a really good mother should be described in that sense.

I was interested in the verb definition about the providing parental stock and used without reference to gender. In some of our more modern writings and liturgies and such, we see that reference used with the term God. Coming from the Patriarchal Western Civilization background, we are so used to God as the Father figure that we are shocked to think of God as our mother, but when we think of the qualities we admire about a good mother why wouldn’t we want to think of our God as being a mother of us all.

Certainly we think of God as our creator, and how were we made without our mother? It was our mother who gave birth to each of us. Without a mother none of us would be here biologically. Yet we all know that not all mothers give birth, and not all people who hold the qualities of a mother are biological mothers themselves. Many people are able to mother without ever having children of their own bodies. I personally think of my aunt and my sister. Neither of them had children, yet my aunt has always been like the second mother to all of us, and my own daughters look to my youngest sister as their extra mother. She has always been more than just an aunt. We all know people like that either in our own families or as friends.

Another quality of a mother is that they can do things, fix things. I know Fathers are like that too, but it was brought home to me in a very interesting way this past week. It was Thursday and we were in Ellendale. It wasn’t the warmest day, and though as coaches, we were wearing our winter coats, many of the athletes were running around with blankets draped over them. Two girls came up to me late in the day and needed help. They had one of those tie blankets draped over the two of them and in order to keep it on better, they had tied some of the fringes together.

Riley was the verbal one and as they came running, she said, “Mrs. Haak, Mrs. Haak you have to help us. You have to untie these fringes, so we can get out of this thing. You can do it Mrs. Haak. You are a mother and mothers can do anything.” They had been running around trying to figure out how to get out of the blanket and literally decided they needed one of the coaches who is a mother because no one else was getting the knot out.” It really wasn’t that tough, and I had them out in time to time the next race.

I will have to say that is the part of working with young people who I enjoy the most. Yesterday when I was sitting in bed all day sipping hot lemon and honey trying to get my voice back enough to be here today, I was missing the time with those who huddle around you asking for silly things like untying their blankets, or even the serious things like why does my leg hurt here and, yes, even the whining things of Why do I have to run that last race. I guess those are all mothering things, and as annoying as some might be on occasion, they all make it worth the effort.

And part of that whole business is another quality of a good mother and that is the ability to nurture. Nurturing is something that we all do for each other at different times. I feel so blessed to have so many of you in my life at this time for all the nurturing and teaching and guiding you have been doing for me. For this I want to thank you, today on Mother’s Day.

But there is one other picture of Mother’s that I want to bring up. It is a darker story. It is the sadness involved when mothers are not able to provide for their children as they would like or as perhaps we are able to do. Something I keep hearing about on the television advertising is a “day” that is being added to our calendar this year called Red Nose Day. Apparently later this month some of the celebrities are putting on an event where they will all wear red clown noses and entertain us in an effort to wipe out childhood hunger. Our local ministers association works to help out those in need in our area, and the Mobile Food Pantry which we promote helps, and there is a fund also through the ministers association that helps with school lunches to cover what the free and reduced costs can’t provide. But as mothers and mothering/nurturing people it should sadden us to know that in our modern era, we still have those in need.

This brings me to the table in the back of the room. Our ability to nurture is also related to the collection we take today and next Sunday. This is our annual drive  for the blankets for Church World Services. As I mentioned earlier, there is an extra appeal this year for the blanket relief because of the earthquake in Nepal where so many people lost their lives or everything they had. Making donations for blankets is the least we can do to help out those who do not have all that they need let alone what they want or would like.

Not everyone is able to be the loving generous giving sort of mothers that we perhaps have known or have had or have been. I know that some of us have known some times that weren’t always easy, but nothing like what some face on a daily basis.

And this brings me to the scriptures that we find in the book of John today. In this passage Jesus is leaving instructions for his disciples. Jesus is teaching them and giving them last words much like a mother would do for her children as she is leaving for a time. In his instructions, the main point is that they love each other. What better thanks can children give to their mother than to get along with each other, to love one another? Boy what a tough thing that is to do at times. Many of us understand the issues of sibling rivalry, and rivalry was certainly a factor among the disciples at some points. Jesus says that is not what he wants, and not what he expects. He tells them to love each other as he loved them, enough to lay down their lives for each other.

Now we can certainly understand a mother loving her children enough that she would do anything for them. I am sure anyone of us would have done anything to save one of our children from any type of harm that we could think of. How many of us spent sleepless nights when they were young and sick, or teenaged and out and about, or any number of things as they get older and life happens. Jesus wants us to have that sort of love for each other as Christians. When we follow his lead it isn’t so hard to participate in a blanket Sunday giving or any other sort of thing we are asked to do. May we go this week with the idea of being a loving, caring, nurturing, fixing creature of God who mothers those around us in the love that Jesus asks us to share. Amen!

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