Birds on the lake

Pelicans and mud ducks in the water.

Last Friday as I was heading to the track meet in Linton, I stopped at one of the little lakes along the road to take some pictures of the birds in the area. Mostly there has been a rather large group of pelicans hanging around that little lake. It must have just the right food to keep them there. I thought I was taking a plethora of pictures and when I finally was able to look at them, there were really not all that many.

I also snapped a shot of a bird I did not know. It is great to be able to search images and find a match. The bird is an Avocet, something I never even heard before, but I have seen the bird at other times. It is really rather pretty, and though this picture is a bit dark on the neck, it is fairly similar to the one on the image I searched. I love the angles of the legs as it walk.

We have finally been having some nice weather in the last three days. It has been rather busy around here and though I have wanted to sit down and put together a post, I haven’t been sure where to start, there is so much to share, and yet….I am not sure where to start and what to include.

The babies are doing well. Lily was discharged last Monday and is doing well with Mom and Dad. Marshall will likely come home this week. They did spend this last weekend at home, which is 90+ miles from the hospital, but it was good for them to get some rest in their own beds and all the things that go with it. As far as I know they are back in Bismarck for the week or until Marshall gets out. I think the plan is to stay the first night in Bismarck as they have been then head home. The last report I read from the Caring Bridges Site he was up to 4 pounds and 4 ounces so that it pretty good. He ripped the feeding tube out, and they decided to just leave it out at that point. He is a fighter and that is great! He will for sure need to be with the cousins he is joining. We figure Ana will be teaching them how to stomp as soon as they can stand up, and David will challenge them to a, well I am sure he will think of something.

I feel rather silly now because we were in Jamestown on Saturday and I did not take any pictures of Lily. I even had the regular camera along, but never took it into the house. Good grief. She is filling out so nicely and even made some crazy faces for me when I was holding her. It seemed that she was having a night mare, hope not cuz I was holding her. I can’t wait to go back later next week and spend the night and take turns holding each of them. Well the only picture I have to share from the family is of Raja the day she was heading back home. She must have known this was her last day in Herreid for a bit, she wanted to be outside the whole time, until she realized I was packing the car then she jumped up on her seat and would not get out. She is a pretty smart dog. Maybe she will come back for a visit this summer. Well enough of my rambling for now. Hope to find some time to post more this week.

Easter Sunday message

This past Sunday, as is the case each Easter, we had lots of visitors. Usually it is children coming home to see parents, but this time we also had random visitors from town. Members of their family came from out of town and they wanted to attend a church together, and picked ours. It was wonderful and many of our members reached out to them in a warm welcome, and that was nice to see. Of course my extroverted husband was one of them, bless his heart! Here is what the members and visitors heard that morning. I must admit having such a large audience did make me a bit more animated, and sort of took away the nagging pain in my back. On Monday I went to the chiropractor and she is a magician. Here is the message.

The scriptures we had were: Psalms 118:1, 4-6, 22-24, Colossians 3:1-4 and Matthew 28:1-10. The title was simply, “Easter Morning.”

I read the gospel lesson here at the start then gave the following message: There were two choices for the gospel reading this morning. Both were the story of the resurrection, but each is a bit different. The other choice was from John chapter 20 and we have read it in the past. It is the version that fits more with the song we sang on Thursday about Mary in the garden alone not recognizing Jesus.

Today we have the version from Matthew. It is similar, but not exactly the same. The women see the angel, the empty tomb and Jesus. Later some of the disciples see him and recognize him, and he tells them to go tell the others. And in Matthew’s accounting, both the angel and Jesus tell the women and the disciples to go to Galilee to meet with him.

Ah, Galilee. Galilee is where Jesus grew up. Galilee is where Nazareth is located If you remember back to the story that we often read during Christmas…and he shall be called a Nazarene, words spoken by the prophet Jeremiah…is in the gospel of Matthew in the story of Jesus’ birth.

But again today we are not going to focus on the story of the history of this text because we basically know that. Today, we will look more at the historical geography of this scripture and what it means for us. And our message for today will be the story of why it is important for us to know that version now.

So let us begin with the geography. The area of Galilee is fairly small in comparison to Samaria and Judea and the surrounding places. Nazareth, itself, was basically a small, isolated village. But, in the same area of Galilee where Nazareth was located, there was another city, a much larger city. A place that was Roman ruled with roads and other “modern” infrastructure put up by the Romans. It was a metropolis compared to the little farming village where Jesus grew up.

This other city Sepphoris or Tzippori (Hebrew) as it is named on some of the maps was much larger and far more important in its day than Nazareth. This other city was between 3-4 miles from Nazareth and apparently sitting up on a hill. It was also known as Diocaesaraea by the Greeks with another name being La Sephorie, which is what the French called it during the Crusades. Whatever the name you use for it, during the time Jesus lived on earth it was a growing thriving city with people from all parts of the world, and they were from all religions and all cultures.

And I am not sure which was the chicken and which was the egg (as in which came first), but this city was along a major trade route between countries of the west and countries of the east, it was one of those silk/spice trade routes that moved goods, and animals, and people and cultures from one end of the world to the other. And because of his knowledge and way of acting, this is where many of the Biblical scholars believe Jesus geographically spent part of those unknown years, you know, his teenage and younger adult (his 20’s) years.

The scholars believe that Jesus as a male son and heir likely worked with Joseph in the carpentry trade, and so at that time he was in the middle of a world where there were diverse populations and languages and ideas and actions and beliefs. Not much different from some of the big cities in our country today, and not so different from some of the larger towns in our own area as of late.

But we all know that Jesus did not stay in that world. We all know the stories we have in the Bible. In his early 30’s Jesus left all of that carpentry and family behind and was baptized by John and began the work of his heavenly father. He gathered his disciples and taught them all the things that we learn in the scriptures and charged them as he does us now to go out and share all of that with the world, and mostly to share the love that God has for us, and I think that is the important part of what we have to learn for today.

The truth is that not all of us have been given the gift of voice or witness or the opportunity of missionary work. Not all of us have that ability to stand on the street corner calling out to others to listen to the word. Maybe I am wrong, but I don’t see evangelism as the strong suit of our denomination. We really aren’t that sort of Christians.

And I would guess if we did a poll here today, I wouldn’t be the only one a little skeptical about people who are that sort of Christian. It is sad, but true, I am suspicious of those who are that open about their witnessing; it might have a little to do with my stoic German-Russian genetics, or it might be related to the staunch Puritan ancestry of our church. While on our trip in Tennessee we went to one of the center squares on our last night there, and as we were leaving we noticed that in the middle of the musical entertainers set up every few feet there were a couple of people witnessing and preaching for the crowd. I will just say, it made me a little nervous, and I have to ask myself, why?

When I think of how Jesus shared his love, the love that he was sent by God to show the world, I see the story of the diverse culture in which he must have been raised. I see that in more than just the historical geography of the area where he lived. The proof is in all of the stories about him in the gospels. The proof is in the way that Jesus treated others. He did not take on the closed attitude of the leaders of the religion to which he was born. First off, he didn’t exclude women when he reached out to help those in need, and he didn’t forbid them from being part of his group of followers as the synagogue excluded them from the inner places of worship. We have lots of those stories all the way from the healing of the woman with the years long hemorrhage to the way he treated Mary as she poured the expensive ointment on his feet and washed them with her tears and dried them with her hair.

Jesus also did not withhold his compassion or healing or love from those of different cultures or social status. We have lots of those stories. When he healed the 10 lepers we learn that one was a Samaritan (someone who should have been considered an outcast by a spiritual leader in Jesus area). We learn that when the Samaritan is the only one who returns to say thank you. And, Jesus speaks favorably of Samaritans in his parable about the Good Samaritan as he is teaching about being a good neighbor. He also heals the servant of a Centurion/a Roman military leader and even instructs his disciples to pay their taxes with his, “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s” statement.

Jesus does not show prejudice for or against those who were outside of the family in which he grew up. There is even a story of his mother and siblings coming to see him when he stops and says that everyone who believes is his mother and sister and brother. That is who Jesus was and that is the example he expects us to follow. We here in our community and in the area we live in have had a bit of a sheltered upbringing. We haven’t had to deal with many outside of our German-Russian ancestry, well with a few exceptions of some Norwegians or British or Dutch, or some eastern Europeans, but not much else until recently. And it seems the more you watch the news, the more you learn about the battle in our country between those who would open the doors to everyone and those who want things to go back to the days of the long past. And as much as I want to think myself above this sort of prejudice, while I was putting this message together, I came to realize, my issue is not with skin color or race or language; it is with ideas and ideology and values, and I need to come to grips with that fact and make some changes.

What we learn from the acts and the parables of Jesus is that he doesn’t give his concern and love to people based on the color of their skin or the language that they spoke. He didn’t come to earth to be the Messiah only for the people who looked and talked and worshiped as he and his earthly parents did. Jesus died on the cross for everyone. And mostly Jesus expects us to accept that his love and our love should also be for everyone and that even means it should be for those who live a bit differently than we do.

On a side note, another item that intrigued me this week was how on earth did this day come to be known as Easter Sunday? I don’t see that word in any of the scripture lessons. Some believe that the word Easter is likely from a more pagan tradition and was taken from the name of a Saxon goddess that is related to the word east and had something to do with spring and the new life of new growth. Others who are religious scholars prefer the idea that it comes from the German word of Ostern which originates in an older time from the old Teutonic form of auferstehn. I can’t tell you exactly which is true, but I can tell you, I sort of like that second idea better. Well, how many of us have heard of the Oster Haas (Easter rabbit)? [Thank you to the internet and the websites that supplied this information]

The bottom line is that no matter where the English word originated that we use to identify today, and no matter how much we learn about the historical or geographical parts of the human life that Jesus lived, what matters for us today, on this beautiful and wonderful Easter Sunday, is the fact that we are celebrating the resurrection of Christ. We are celebrating the unbelievable love that God had for us in giving his Son to wipe out our sins, our flaws, our shortcomings. And when we accept that love for us, we are then called to share it with those around us, and that means all of those around us, not just our family, though that is a good start. God expects us to share the love of Christ with others and as I said before, maybe we are not great as shouting it from the roof tops or the street corners, but at the least, we need to share that love in our actions towards others. Remember, God expects us to show our Christian love to everyone without judgment or prejudice. Let’s keep that in mind this week as we interact with those around us. And in case you were wondering, next week we will be celebrating Earth Sunday, so we will expand the story to include the rest of creation. Amen!

Post on Psalm 121

Every so many weeks the clergy in our town are asked to write an article for the local newspaper. Today was my turn and being pretty much caught off guard about it because I have been running hither and yon with too much on the schedule and a few unexpected events, I was a bit abrupt when the lady from the paper called to remind me about it. After our board meeting, I got home and managed to put together the following article. The hardest part about writing this for me is keeping it to a mere 450 words. I know every college student wishes their professors had that as a requirement for their papers. Anyway, below is the article with a couple of pictures thrown in for good measure.

My help comes from the Lord!

The Psalm I most like to use during a family service for the passing of a loved one is Psalm 121. It opens with one of the most comforting verses in the Bible. “I lift up my eyes to the hills—from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth.” This verse was also appropriate to use this last Sunday as our congregation celebrated Earth Sunday. I always enjoy that Sunday because we deviate a little from the same-old, same-old pattern of sing songs, read the scriptures and me delivering a message.

Looking for food at the base of the stalks.

Snuggled in bed with me.

On Earth Sunday and again at the end of the year, I supplement the message with a power point of pictures. Our final Sunday’s pictures are of all the things we have accomplished as a church, the fellowship we have had and the special services and special events in which we have participated. But on Earth Sunday, the pictures are from nature. Usually I include flowers and trees and pictures of the garden at harvest. This year I had some shots of the Blue Jays and squirrels munching on the tall sunflowers we let grow wild in the middle of the garden. There were lots of pictures of migrating birds and even some of the family cats. It was fun to work on that message. It was easy to place the pictures and figure out the background and tweak the details. Working on details like that keeps my mind busy and away from the things that are weighing it down.

Marshall and Lily together in the crib.

In so many ways April should be one of the happiest months of the year. I should like it for no other reason than I was born in April. It is also the time of year for watching the trees bud, the grass turn green, and getting ready for planting. It is baby calves in the pasture and all things new. But this year we lost my mother’s younger brother to a heart attack, and the day I was returning home from visiting his family in Arizona, I realized it was the 28th anniversary of my father’s passing and somehow April no longer was about new life. “From where will my help come?” God is there for us in all things—the bad and the good. On the day after my birthday, my oldest daughter’s twins decided to enter this world. We didn’t expect them until May, but they had other plans. It will likely be May before they are released from the hospital, but for now we are rejoicing and knowing, “my help comes from the Lord.” May you enjoy this spring.

Easter weekend

I started this post on the Saturday before Easter, as in four days ago. I just can’t seem to get myself to take the time to sit by the computer and posting from my iPad is just not so easy or appealing. My age is beginning to show when it comes to technology. I frankly don’t enjoy watching television or movies on a 5×7 screen and I don’t like listening to music from my phone. I am not saying that the quality is bad, but when you grew up in the 70’s where everyone was into giant sized speakers hanging from the wall in perfect balance, and you tried like the dickens to afford a larger television because you were so happy to finally get away from black and white and have color, well…it is just different.

I always talk about being from the generation who touch the generation that survived the Dirty Thirty’s. My children can talk about being from the generation who touch the generation who began life with a black and white television. My has life changed. So below is what I was going to post last Saturday.

“What a weekend! I have been trying to put together a message for Easter Sunday and I can’t get past the second page. This afternoon, I couldn’t get past the first page without falling asleep in my chair. Good grief, you would think I had been up all night and that I was over worked. I admit it has been a long two weeks and there has been some stress, but I have really not been in the direct recipient of  any of it. In some ways, I feel more like one on the fringes, and I feel like it is selfish of me to feel stressed about any of it.”

For those of you who need a short recap, I was in Phoenix for a two short days at the beginning of the month because my uncle died, then we were running here and there after track meets both those we coach and one for our youngest daughter. The night of her meet, we all gathered to celebrate my big 60th birthday (a tish early) at a nephew’s pizza shop, Fire Flour Pizza, in Bismarck. Then we were back to track meet status until our oldest daughter called to say the twins were on the way. It was an unscheduled C-section the day after my actual birthday. The twins are a bit early, but it was a good decision and now they are able to grow and finish off their development with some pretty good eyes watching them.

Raja sitting at my feet today.

James and I spent one over night in Bismarck and then headed back to our home and all the things that entails. Vic and Nate and that set of grandkids was here for the weekend as was Paulina who brought Jessica’s dog, Raja. She had quite a trip too. They had a track and field meet in Aberdeen which from Jamestown to Aberdeen to here is a triangular sort of issue and would have made for lots of driving had she gone on the team bus. So, she opted for the drive herself with the dog in the car version, then she was able to come straight home from the meet. She got to Eureka in time to meet us at The Stop after Maundy Thursday services, which technically is a no-no. The jist of that service is to go home alone in silence and think about your life until Sunday. As you can tell, it is one of my least favorite days of the church year.

So Good Friday was wait for the Dickinson crew and Saturday was dye eggs with Jaxon and hang out with the family. We dug a ham and a bag of frozen potatoes that I picked up hither and yon from the freezer and that was our delicious Easter dinner after a church service that was like no other. We had several visitors as we do each year, but we also had two families that no one knew come in and join us. It was wonderful, and hopefully we didn’t scare them off from never coming back. James said at least one of them seemed to be enjoying the message, so hopefully….! I have resigned myself to the idea that we will not be adding members, so you never know.

Well, in a nut shell that is what we have been doing as of late. Hopefully, I can get to some of my work in the house and a few posts that have been on the back burner. I am not sure how far I will get before June. We have a full schedule of track and field meets as long as the weather cooperates. We have a wonderful set of junior high athletes and I just hope we do right for them. Paulina has some meets we might get to attend and this Saturday, we are planning to make a trip to Bismarck and hope to peek on the new grandchildren. Jessica started a Caring Bridges site, so we are able to keep up with their progress from afar. But, nothing like the first hand version.

Well, enough for now. I really need to get to the church office sometime today. We have a board meeting tonight and I should maybe get a report ready for it…. Yikes!!

Cat squares

So you might have seen the latest craze on Pinterest where they tape a square on the floor and the cat sits in it. Paulina tried it today for Roger and this was the result. She sort of let us know that she does understand the difference between a box and a piece of tape.

Now Jessica’s little dog that we will be watching for a bit while she is on recovery mode and baby detail sees lines as an obstacle to be jumped over. I have no pictures to share, but Paulina took her along to a college track and field meet yesterday. It was a transportation convenience thing, as in quicker to driver herself with the dog than to ride the bus and come home later. Anyway as they were crossing the field that was spray painted with boundary lines, Raja kept jumping the lines. Wish I had a video of that. Paulina said the other throwers enjoyed her. She made it to Eureka as we were visiting with my sisters at The Stop after church. When they found out we had the dog, it was almost confiscated, so we know if this stay gets long, she might be asked to visit there because they love having her. Now my cats have never been given that offer, HA! Might have something to do with the attitude you see above. Take care and more on the babies later. We are heading to see them now.

Sharing baby pictures

Not much time to post today. I have been in church since before 10 am and have barely done anything except get songs ready for tonight. Here are two pictures which show more of grandma and grandpa and mom and dad than babies, but we will get there.

Lily

Mom and Lily, Dad and Marshal I think?

Babies are here!!

I don’t have pictures and am not authorized to post any yet, haha! But this is my version of the story. Yesterday as James and I and sister Kathy were on the way to a track meet in Hazen when Jessica called from her ultrasound that they would need to take the babies because one was not getting full nutrition anymore. Bottom line is we have two new grandchildren. Lily Patricia was 5# 12 oz. and Marshall Anthony was 3# 10 oz. more when we know more.

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