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About Ruby Girl

Grand Forks Herald Staff Writer for 23 years now a free-lance Herald "In The Spirit" columnist. Column appears the second Saturday of each month. Born and raised on a farm near Newburg, N.D. Married, mother of two sons and grandmother of four. Loves to read, sing, dance, play drums with my worship band at church, garden and ride my ole Schwinn bicycle. Plus, shovel snow in winter and mow lawn in summer.

The 3 M’s: Medora – Musical – Misti


MEDORA, N.D. – The Teddy Roosevelt Medora Foundation’s advertisements ask us to “adore” Medora. I speak for my family, immediate and extended, when I say we definitely do adore Medora. We are stuck on this quaint little historic town and we try to get there at least every other year. This was our year!

We drove on to Medora after a family wedding in Minot. That’s another whole wonderful story, but today adorable Medora is the topic.

Getting there – driving across the Flickertail State (my homeland) is a nostalgic indulgence for me. I don’t need mountains. I don’t need oceans. Give me the quietness of the flatland plains of Dakotaland, the Garrison Dam, Lake Sakakawea and the friendliness of the people in such tiny towns as Pick City and Riverdale. They are among the best.

In the past we’ve pretty much “explored” and done it all in Medora: ride horseback, visit the Chateau De Mores Historic Site and the Harold Schafer Heritage Center, stop at every shop, saw and heard Joe Wiegand portray Teddy Roosevelt in the Old Town Hall Theater (he is incredible), walked the streets or just sat by the pool. Our guys have yet to play the Bully Pulpit Golf Course. Next time.

There are several places to stay in Medora. We like the Badlands Motel.

This time ours was just an overnighter. We arrived Sunday evening in plenty of time for the Pitchfork Fondue. This is an experience in itself as while in line you gaze at the beauty of the rugged badlands below the bluff. When it’s time to be seated, the food is fantastically tasty. We watched the chefs as they threaded juicy steaks on pitchforks before dropping them in huge vats of hot grease for frying.


Some in our party had the steaks and others had the Cowboy Café which included ribs, beef roast and chicken with the rest of the buffet items.

The musical is one of the big reasons why we keep going back to Medora and the last couple times the big draw has been Misti Koop.

We have loved Misti’s music and acting since first seeing her on stage at East Grand Forks Senior High School in the 1990s. We followed her to Red River High School’s stage after she transferred there. Misti went on for a BA in Music from Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter, Minn., and also earned an MA in Theatre Arts from the University of North Dakota.

After a few years as a band teacher, Misti moved to New York City for a time and had an ensemble role in the national tour of Jesus Christ Superstar. She entertained on the Norwegian “EPIC” cruise ship and now, Misti has come home. She teaches music at South Point School in East Grand Forks and once again is spending her summer in Medora as one of the musical’s Burning Hills Singers.

Because we know and love her, Misti is the life of the party for us on the Medora stage. This year is the musical’s 50th year and they have pulled out all the stops. It’s been said that this is Medora’s best one yet. I just might agree although I have loved all I’ve seen.

This summer, performers begin by taking the audience back to the beginning in 1965 in costume and song. As the show progresses, the singers and dancers proceed through the changes made over the decades.

The six member Coal Diggers Band and the show’s hosts, Emily Walker and Bill Sorenson do an amazing job. Along with Misti from our towns (Grand Forks/East Grand Forks), this year the Burning Hills Singers hail from Tennessee, Connecticut, Iowa, Minnesota, Kansas, other parts of North Dakota, Maryland, California and Indiana.

The show ends with such a beautiful musical tribute to North Dakota and America that it’s enough to bring a tear to your eye.

I had let Misti know we would be there on the shows’ third night and afterwards we met her by the concession stand to gather our hugs. Here are a few photos of her and the show:

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The Medora Musical runs nightly through September 12. Call: 1-800-MEDORA-1 for information. Like us, I know you and your family will “adore” Medora. You won’t be able to help it.

Until Soon

To ride or not to ride — that is the question

20150529_091456 rI never realized the importance of a chain and sprocket working well together until my two decided to dissociate with one another.

It happened Tuesday as I was clipping along at the posted speed limit on the bike path when I hit a significant bump causing the chain on Tudy Trek (my new name for my cruiser bike) to literally fly off the sprocket wheel.

I wasn’t sure exactly what had happened, but no longer being able to pedal or brake is a pretty helpless feeling.

I was just entering an incline which helped to reduce my speed so I scraped the pavement with my left foot until I came to a stop. Looking down I noticed that Tudy’s chain hung down like sheets on the line that had just lost a clothes pin.

Within minutes, however, I was feeling rather smug – like a mechanic even. I laid Tudy down on her side and tried to put the chain back on the sprocket – to no avail. With my fingers now sufficiently greased in black, I spun the back tire and lo and behold, the chain and the sprocket reconciled and reconnected.

They were in sync. They were together again.

I set the bike back up on its two wheels and I was off to complete that day’s miles.

All went well during Wednesday’s rides, but then came Thursday.

That evening I was out riding when the chain and sprocket apparently argued again – and separated. No bump to blame it on this time.

A very nice man named Jeff, was out walking his cute little Cavachon (Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and Bichon Frise). I know this because his dog is the spittin’ image of Zoe who lives with our son, Troy, his wife Sheri, and grandchildren Elyn and Ethan.

Anyway, Jeff heard the clanking and stopped. He was very willing to get his fingers blackened with grease saying he felt like he was back in high school fixing his own bike.

Jeff tipped the bike upside down and got the chain back on. I took off again but got – maybe – six feet when a huge fight broke out between the sprocket and the chain. This time the chain had packed its bags and left. I mean, walked out, as in flying completely off the sprocket and throwing a fit on the pavement.

There it laid like a snake!

Jeff was still close enough to hear it again. He walked toward me, picked up the chain and handed it to me. I thanked him profusely and decided there was no more to do but walk Tudy home.

As we speak, on this Friday, Tudy is having a “time out,” at the Ski and Bike Shop getting a new chain. Funny how things happen. Today is windy and cold and not a good riding day.

It is, however, a good day to rest.

Until Soon

Ben Hylden is purified

20150520_201502Christian artists, The Newsboys, recorded a song that has become Ben Hylden’s favorite. Ben loves all the lyrics to “Amazing Love,” but a few nearly reduce him to tears. They are: I’m alive and well, Your Spirit is within me.   .   .   .   .   .   I know it’s true, it’s my joy to honor you, in all I do I honor you.

Ben most assuredly is alive and well despite not being expected to live through the day after driving too fast and losing control of his car on the way to school one April morning in 2007.

As a sophomore at Park River, N.D., high school who was “always” late, Ben was not wearing a seat belt, He hit the ditch, then an approach and was tossed about like a rag doll before being ejected out the passenger side and landing face down in a field of mud and ice. His first thought was to try to crawl to his parents, Kenny and Lana Hylden, to tell them he was sorry. Sorry for oftentimes not being nice to them and his siblings. Sorry for only living for himself. Sorry for so much.

But Ben couldn’t crawl. He had bruised lungs, kidneys, pancreas, liver and small intestines. An artery in his right leg was crushed, his pallet broken in half and his nose broken in nine places. He had a badly bruised right hip, four broken ribs, a severed tongue and most of the bones in his face were shattered. Along with all that, his brain was bruised and bleeding.

Ben was so bruised and bloody and muddy that his parents, who were on the same road on their way to a meeting, were the first ones to come upon the accident. They did not recognize their son.

Ben was raised in a devote Christian home but he said he didn’t really know Jesus then. Growing up on a dairy farm he didn’t want to help out on the farm because all he lived for was himself and sports.

The whole horrible, heart-wrenching, nearly tragic turned beautiful story comes from not only Ben’s pen but his heart and soul. Because I had read his book, “Finding Faith in the Field,” I wanted to meet Ben and hear him speak of how the accident has made him a changed man.


Wednesday night I was among a large crowd of all ages who listened to Ben tell his story at Calvary Lutheran Church in Grand Forks.

Ben, now 24, recovered much more rapidly than his physicians ever expected. “Simply put,” he said, “everything that happened was supposed to be impossible. I healed at a rate that’s not medically possible. The doctor said prayer was doing it. I believe the only reason I’m alive today is because of prayer. It’s by God’s mercy and grace that I’m here.”

All Ben ever wanted to do was play basketball and football. “Basketball was my God,” he said. He did play some after his recovery, but after twice getting elbowed in the head during a basketball game, which resulted in concussions, “I gave it up and my bond with God grew.”

Soon Ben realized that God had other plans for him. Since “Finding Faith in the Field,” was released in 2014, he has told his story more than 50 times to many organizations including camps, schools and churches. He has many more talks scheduled down the road and sometimes even he finds that difficult to believe.

“That’s the Holy Spirit up here,” he said Wednesday night as he stood at the podium. “There’s no way I can do this myself. I have to have Christ in me. I was saved to tell my story and that there is a God and a man named Jesus, a heaven and life after death. Even in the field I didn’t ask God to help me and He still came to my rescue. He gave me mercy and grace when I didn’t deserve it.”

Ben’s book, which sells for $12, is available at Hugo’s stores, Fergusons Books in Grand Forks, the University of North Dakota Bookstore, Ye Ole Medicine Center in Park River, and on You also can order it from his website:, along with a line of clothing he has developed (t-shirts and sweatshirts) called “Purified,” branded by I John 1:7. It reads: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”

Ben will speak at the Cavalier (N.D.) nursing home at 5:30 p.m. Saturday (May 23) and next Wednesday (May 27) to a class of drivers’ education students in Fordville, N.D.

“This is my career now,” Ben said. “I preached for the first time this past Sunday. My whole inspirational message isn’t to teach people but just to share the name of Christ. Christ is everything. I can look back and I just get sick. He has completely humbled me. My human dream was to play sports, but for people to know Christ, life is so much better. If they can know what I know, it takes such a burden off you. I was given complete mercy and grace. He’s our joy, our peace and life. He’s the best teacher there is and the Gospel is the most precious thing you can hear.”

These days, when Ben isn’t speaking, you just might hear him singing along with his Newsboys CD:

I’m forgiven

Because You were forsaken
I’m accepted
You were condemned
I’m alive and well
Your Spirit is within me
Because You died
And rose again

Amazing love
How can it be
That You my King
Would die for me
Amazing love
I know it’s true
It’s my joy to honor You
In all I do I honor You

Until Soon

They were the best of days!

I cherish my senior class ring. Embedded in it is my ruby birthstone.

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Graduation always is a wistful time for me. I will never forget how sad it was to have my four years at Newburg (N.D.) High School come to an end. Our 14-member class was brother/sister close and it’s safe to say we all loved every minute.

Besides all our studies, band and choir concerts and the music festivals we took part in together, there was our senior class play titled, “The Campbells Are Coming.” It is just one highlight of our days together.

I was Ma Brannigan, head of a clan of Hillbillies who had a summer cabin by a lake in the Ozarks. Still have my playbook and the corncob pipe I pretended to smoke on stage.


We’ve only lost one classmate and when we get together, which we hope to do again this summer, we talk about what happened to the hat Cyrus Scudder (played by Roger Wahus) tossed high in the air during one scene. It never came back down and we discovered at plays’ end that the hat got caught in the above-stage curtains. We actors had to hold it together as it set off a roar of laughter from the audience when it seemingly vanished into thin air.

Every year, after final exams, our class picnicked together somewhere in the country. And how we looked forward to donning our handsome blue band uniforms to play and march from the school to the cemetery for the Memorial Day services.

I have the yearbook from my senior year, but I cannot turn a page. They are all stuck together after being saturated in the flood waters of 1997. I did not have the heart to throw it out so I hang onto it for posterity. Maybe time will untie its pages.

Inside the front cover is a message from my dear younger friend, Karen Wahus Irey, who died much too young from cancer. And on the opposite side is a picture of Robert Hunskor, beloved teacher/coach, to whom we dedicated that year’s edition of “The Eagle.” You may recall that Bob Hunskor at one time was named North Dakota’s “most winning” Class B boys basketball coach.



I don’t have a photo of my senior class to show you, but I do have our 7th grade class picture. I am front row second from left with white shirt and black dickey. Does anyone wear dickeys anymore?

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I’m sure today’s graduating seniors will have just as many fond memories of their high school days as I do of mine. I will, however, keep to myself the number of decades I was already out of high school the year their mothers gave them life.

I don’t recall my senior class motto, but I do remember our 8th grade class motto. It was musical: “Be sharp, be natural, but never be flat.”

I enjoyed Sunday’s Herald section which saluted 2015’s graduating seniors. I especially appreciated their class mottos. Every proverb offers insight and wisdom for all ages to ponder. I’ve listed some of them below:

  • Each of us has different talents, different dreams, and different destinations. But all have the same power to make a new tomorrow.
  • If you’re trying to achieve, there will be roadblocks. Everybody has had them, but obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.
  • I know not what the future holds, but I know who holds the future.
  • How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.
  • Let your smile change the world, but don’t let the world change your smile.
  • Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.
  • And so, the adventure begins.
  • There are many roads we have crossed, many hills we have climbed, and so many dreams we have yet to realize.
  • The best is yet to come.
  • Believe in the promise of tomorrow, but live this day to its fullest.
  • Here on earth and in heaven above our class is bound always by never-ending love.
  • What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.
  • Started from the bottom – now we are here.
  • A journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step.
  • Take pride in how far you have come, have faith in how far you can go.
  • This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.
  • Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.
  • Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.
  • Work hard in silence, let success make the noise.
  • Success is not final; failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.
  • Believe you can and you are halfway there.
  • In the end we’ll all become stories.
  • Tough times don’t last; tough people do.
  • Chase your dreams, but always know the road that will lead you home again.
  • Learn from yesterday, live for today, dream for tomorrow.
  • I like the dream of the future better than the history of the past.
  • Our fearlessness shall be our secret weapon.
  • I hereby command you; be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9.
  • Behind us are memories, beside us are friends. Before us are dreams that will never end.
  • Success is a journey not a destination.
  • Behind you are all your memories, before you all your dreams, around you all who love you and within you all you need.
  • If we wait until we are ready, we’ll be waiting for the rest of our lives.
  • We cannot discover new oceans unless we have the courage to lose sight of the shore.
  • Destiny is not a matter of chance. It is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.
  • We met as strangers, grew as classmates, and leave as friends.
  • Your attitude is either lock or key to the door of success.
  • Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined.
  • Adversity equals opportunity.
  • You have seen what we have done, but not all that we will achieve.
  • The path to a fulfilled dream is filled with ordinary days surrendered to an extraordinary God.
  • But He knows where I’m going and when He tests me I will come out as pure as gold. Job 23:10.

These last two express my sentiments exactly:

  • No matter how far apart we are, in our hearts we’ll always be together.
  • Together we have experienced life. Separately we will pursue our dreams. Forever our memories remain.

And so it is that no matter how far apart new beginnings take us, home will always be home and the friends and memories made along the way will never be forgotten.

Until Soon


Music music music

Layout 1Those in the know say we can live without food for three weeks and only three or four days without water. Along with food and water, something else sustains me and without it I think I just might die in a day.

That something else is music.

That’s a huge exaggeration, of course, but just like I get grumpy and frumpy when I get hungry and thirsty, I require a healthy dose of music every single day. I need it to survive.

The words of a 1950 song recorded by Teresa Brewer have been singing in my head for a couple days now. They are:

Put another nickel in

In the nickelodeon

All I want is loving you

And music, music, music

How fun were the nickelodeons back in those days where you could play a song for a nickel while you enjoyed a burger.

I know for a fact that music is the heartbeat of my soul. It is the tie that binds people from all countries and all walks of life.

No one knows for sure when exactly music began. Perhaps while people were working, they began to chant or sing to make their tedious tasks go faster. People who were repeating movements, like picking crops or rowing boats, maybe started singing or humming or chanting tunes to the beat of their actions.

Or maybe someone started whistling or trying to mimic birds, how leaves sound as they rustle in the breeze or the crackling of a fire in three-four time. Wouldn’t it be fun to know who first realized that the world is so filled with natural music?”

The other day, I received a note from my friend, Alice Jean Rand, reminding me once again that May 3-10 is National Music Week. Alice Jean is a long time member of Grand Forks’ Thursday Music Club which is now 117 years old. Alice Jean is much much younger.

As part of the club’s National Music Week committee, Alice Jean along with Dee Larson, Karen Dalager, Marian Hanson and Edith Soli, want to remind all of us of the importance and appreciation of music in our lives. If you know of concerts on the calendar by all means go.

They also suggest that we say, “Happy Music Week,” to all we meet just as we would say, “Happy Birthday.”

And they remind us to sing our hearts out, especially in the shower, to dust off our instruments and play them. As for me, that would be my harmonic and my drums  and my soprano voice.

Grab a partner and dance. (Jim and I dance a lot, right in our kitchen). Encourage all the youth you know to sing, dance and enjoy music. And best of all, try a little candle light and music at dinner this evening.

National Music Week was first established by the National Federation of Music Clubs. I found, on line, the creed that has sustained the organization (like food and water) since its inception in 1898. I share it with you here:

We praise and thank Thee, Father, for the gift of music. Through us, as channels of Thy grace, may this blessed legacy be shared with all mankind.

Grant that we may exemplify in our own lives the harmony of Thy great purpose for us. Give us magnitude of soul and such understanding hearts that we, who make music, may be as players upon rightly tuned instruments, responding to Thy leading.

Let us with renewed consecration dedicate ourselves to the purpose of our federation to bring the spiritualizing force of music to the inner life of our nation. Open our minds that divine knowledge and wisdom may teach us how to best execute our pledge.


National Music Week’s purpose is to create an understanding and appreciation of the value of music in our homes, our communities, our nation and our world.

To me, music is as vital as the food we eat and the water we drink.

Until Soon

Happiness is helping the hungry

The music that filled the Grand Forks Public Works building was phenomenal and one of the requirements was to dance – and so we did – as we scooped.

Jake (left) and Jesse were the bag holders

Jake (left) and Jesse were the bag holders

UND students Jesse Rich and Jake Cullen opened the plastic bags and held them under a stainless steel funnel. I ladled in the vitamin compound, Jim the dried veggies, Kemper or Lola Kimball (brother and sister) a cup of soy, and Lyle Puffe a cup of rice. Others on our team, including Kelly Kimball (mom) and another daughter Isabelle, weighed the bags and passed them on to those who sealed them.

It was an assembly line like none other. Lyle was the only one we knew when our table started and when it was all said and done we were all buds.


The Scoopers: Lyle, Lola, Kelly and Jim

What a joy it was to be among the more than 163 people who worked the 6 to 8 p.m. Friday night Feed My Starving Children shift.

Feed My Starving Children is a Minnesota founded non-profit Christian organization that ships food that’s packaged by volunteers to 70 countries around the world. Jodie Storhaug, Grand Forks, brought this ministry home to us after being invited to volunteer with relatives in the Twin Cities. Her husband, Bruce Storhaug, immediately supported Jodie in this endeavor and this is the fifth year the packing event has taken place in Grand Forks. FMSC is in the top one percent of well-thought-of charities in the United States.

Jim and I have done this before and everyone, I mean everyone from tyke to 80, is so jovial as they work. And of course the music adds to the ambiance.

We heard such songs as “Rock ‘n’ Roll is Here to Stay,” “Born in the U.S.A.,” “I’ve Been Everywhere,” by Johnny Cash, “YMCA,” (with some doing the actions), songs by The Eagles and the Beatles and even the Chicken Dance song (also with actions).

Jim took a break from scooping to jive to "Footloose."

Jim took a break from scooping to jive to “Footloose.”

Jim took a break from scooping to jive to "Footloose."

Lyle and Jim jivin’ to the music


For starters, a video tells the story of starvation

For starters, a video tells the story of starvation

Before it all began, the 163 of us listened to a FMSC worker who gave some stats on hunger around the world. Isabelle Kimball, 9, was shocked when she heard that 6,200 people die of starvation every day. That made her work all the harder.

The night’s stats: We packed 177 boxes which boils down to 38,232 servings of food. That means 104 children somewhere will have a meal a day for an entire year.  In terms of dollars, we were told what we accomplished was a $8,411 grocery bill.

As people left the building, fully gratified, many stopped to sign a giant card that will be sent along with a shipment of food to another land.

Many people stopped to sign a huge card that will accompany a shipment of food to a faraway land

Many people stopped to sign a huge card that will accompany a shipment of food to a faraway land


I think we all would agree that tonight we were “Addicted to Love.” Yup, we heard and danced to that song, too, as we scooped.

Until Soon

Food for thought

I was digging in a dresser drawer this morning, one I hadn’t dug in for a while. I should do that more often as sometimes the neatest things resurface.

Lying on the floor of the drawer, under little boxes and pull-string bags of jewelry, was a 2-inch by 3 ½-inch card with an aerial shot (tiny but vivid) of Prairie Village located in Rugby, N.D., the geographical center of North America.

I don’t recall when this card came into my possession, but it might have been when my cousin, Dale Niewoehner, (former mayor of Rugby) and his wife, Marilyn, treated a bunch of his relatives to lunch at the village. The card is somewhat yellowed so I would guess that was years ago.

What’s printed on the back of that card must be the reason I valued it. It should never have been buried under incidentals, but out to be read every day. Here’s what it says:


 Money can’t buy:

FRIENDSHIP – Friendship must be earned

CLEAR CONSCIENCE – Square dealing is the price tag

GOOD HEALTH – Right living is the secret.

HAPPINESS – Happiness is a state of mind. It may be achieved in a cottage or a palace. Sunsets, songs of wild birds, music of the wind in trees – these are as free as the air we breathe.

INWARD PEACE – Peace is the result of a constructive philosophy of life.

GOOD CHARACTER – Good character is achieved through decent habits of private living and wholesome dealings in our open contacts with our fellow man.




Then the card says, “Continue the list for yourself. You’ll agree that among the things money can’t buy are some of the most valuable treasurers life has to offer.”

At the very bottom it states that the card is compliments of the Geographical Center Museum, Pioneer Village and Park, Rugby, N.D. – G.U. Austin, Supt.

Apparently, of late, they’ve changed the word, “Pioneer,” to “Prairie,” You might want to check out the website at Seems there’s lots going on there this summer. It invites visitors to stroll along the village boardwalk, to explore 23 fully furnished historic buildings, and to discover treasurers in six exhibition halls and to come for their rhubarb festival on June 28.

I think it’s time to make another stop in Rugby to see if Dale and Marilyn will buy me lunch again at the Village.

In the meantime, here’s my list of things money can’t buy: memories, well-adjusted grandchildren, respect, natural beauty, common sense, integrity, a long life, an open mind, trust, a great idea, appreciation for the simple things of life, wisdom, youth, class, a proper perspective.

What’s your list?

Until Soon


And so here we are, about to begin again

Last October, I wrote about fall, the most nostalgic time of year for me. With it comes the raking of leaves, the cleaning of flower beds, the emptying of geranium pots, the pulling up of tomato plants and the covering of outdoor furniture and air conditioner.

It’s sad to see summer on the deck with family and friends come to an end, its’ termination sealed by the putting to bed of the Mustang convertible. All the while I’m battening down hatches in anticipation of winter, I wonder if, God willing, the time will come when we’ll get to do it all over again.

Well, it appears that God is willing as the season of rebirth and renewal has returned. Spring has sprung and the cycle of new life has begun. What a beautiful thing to behold.

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For me, this time of newness and renewal, rebirth and replanting, the resurgence and revitalization of such things as perennials, goes hand in hand with the resurrection of Jesus. On Good Friday, after giving His life for us, He is laid to rest in the tomb. Then on Easter Sunday morning we celebrate His resurrection, the very foundation of Christianity.

Easter Sunday reminds Christians of our heavenly calling to be His hands and feet here on earth. It reminds us that the door to a relationship with God through Jesus His resurrected Son – is and forever will be – wide open.


Let me assure you, I do not mind winter. I enjoy shoveling snow and keeping the sidewalks and slab slick and clean then coming in for coziness and the gift of time around a crackling fire.

Let me also assure you, that I am always SO ready for spring.

Bring it on already!

As we speak, the wrens have returned and again are building a nest in the hollow of the clothes line’s crossbar.

My friend Bobbi’s country tulips are up six inches. She was going to buy a pot already in bloom but decided against it as hers will probably burst forth this week. Mine haven’t even poked through the soil yet.

My friend Bobbi's farm tulips

My friend Bobbi’s farm tulips

My yellow Trek Cruiser has been to the Ski and Bike Shop for its spring tune-up. It rides like a Palomino and I’m well on my way to trekking another 3,000 miles this year on the bike paths around East Grand Forks and Grand Forks.

Yesterday morning while on the 2-mile ring along the Red Lake River, a V-formation of geese honked above me as they headed north. My eyes returned from the wild blue yonder in time to watch an American eagle cruise just over the water at a bend in the river. Wow was that eagle ever gorgeous. At eye level, its head is as white as snow, its’ feathers as black as coal. I wonder if it’s the same one I saw several times last summer that I never managed to capture on camera.

I am so eager for spring that I stopped by All Season’s Garden Center and Tim Shea’s Nursery just to whet my plant appetite. Look what they have ready and waiting for us!

Tim Sheas

Tim Shea’s Nursery and Landscaping

All Seasons

All Season’s Garden Center

Employees at both nurseries were busy as elves in Santa’s workshop and so very cheery.

We may have a few chilly days yet in April, but that’s OK, We know our fourth month won’t let us down. Named for the Latin word ‘apriis,’ April means ”open,” as in when the earth opens for the growth of Spring.

So you see, we do get to do all it all over again.

Before we get started, though, I want to wish each of you a most Blessed Easter.

Until soon

Inviting you to subscribe

Hi Everyone,

Just wanted to let you know that if look just to your right at the very top of this site, you’ll notice a box where you can insert your email address to become an “In the Spirit,” subscriber. That way, every time I post a column, you will be notified that I offer something for you to read. Is that not such a deal? All free of charge!  Thanks for considering.

Until Soon

Old beams make beautiful new cross

The cross in all its glory

The cross in all its glory.

I must begin with the cross, for it was the catcher-of-my-eye as I walked into the newly remodeled and expanded Fellowship Hall at Calvary Lutheran Church in Grand Forks. With the congregation’s renovation project nearly complete, the large room is beautiful, warm and inviting.

But most awe-inspiring is the emblem of suffering and shame that hangs against a brick and mortar wall on the south sanctuary side.

The cross is both old and new, as it was prayerfully and lovingly hewn by Calvary member LeRoy Sondrol from beams salvaged from the original church built in 1953. Its surface is smooth and polished and not at all rugged.

“It is 8-feet 3-inches long and the width of the crossbar is 5-feet,” LeRoy said. “It’s three inches thick. The old beams were six inches thick. I took it to a saw mill to have it cut down. It didn’t need to be six inches thick and I was concerned that it would look balanced.”

LeRoy said he had no design in mind for the cross when he was about to begin. “I went to bed one night and I prayed about it. At three o’clock in the morning I woke up and everything was right there and I drew it out. It was almost an ‘aha’ moment. It was the Lord. It was an answer to prayer that designed it.”

I spent a good part of last Saturday in that room at Calvary, honored to be invited to speak at their Women’s Rest, Renew and Rejoice Retreat. The day was indeed restful and renewing. We did a lot of rejoicing and it was a tremendous treat for all.

Elaine Einarson extended the invitation to me on behalf of the retreat committee. Pastor Kristen Larson-Schmidt gave a wonderfully welcoming message and Andria Messelt came from Fargo with her guitar and beautiful voice to begin the day with music. She led us in the singing of “Holy is the Lord,” “Hosanna (Praise is Rising),” “In Christ Alone,” and “Be Thou My Vision.”

Andria Messelt led the singing of worship songs

Andria Messelt led the singing of worship songs.

After my talk on, “The Gift of Time,” there were breakout sessions on such things as jewelry making, line dancing, card making, knitting.  I chose Jodie Storhaug’s session on, “Daring to Follow the Spirits Leading.” Jodie, you may know, was the one who some years back launched the “Feed My Starving Children” ministry in Grand Forks. Jim and I look forward to taking part in that again the weekend of April 10-12 in Grand Forks.

Two faithful servant husbands, Tom Wrenn and Einar Einarson, were on kitchen patrol at the retreat and at lunch time they made sure our coffee cups as well as our soup and salad bowls were filled to the brim.

Tom Wrenn and Einar Einarson were on KP and served the women well.

Tom Wrenn and Einar Einarson were on KP and served the women well.

We were served a delicious soup and salad lunch topped off by sweets to make us sweeter.

We were served a delicious soup and salad lunch topped off by sweets to make us sweeter.

I don’t remember when I’ve had such a spirit-filled relaxing Saturday in the midst of 60 women of all ages. Some were in their 20s. Elaine recalled their very first retreat five years ago. “All these young moms were there and I know they had to get babysitters.”

This year’s oldest attendee, 94-year-old Jeanee Kuentzel, really captured my heart. The mother of Kathi Dykstra (wife of Pastor Roger), Jeanne is as delightful, fun and witty as the day is long. She’s filled with so much wisdom from a life well-spent. Such a good mentor is she!

As I left Calvary that day I noticed more of LeRoy’s handiwork by the back door – a smaller cross of the same design framed with a message from LeRoy’s heart.

A framed smaller version of the cross also built by LeRoy Sondrol.

A framed smaller version of the cross also built by LeRoy Sondrol.

The Message of the Cross is Salvation. The Base represents the roots of a large tree to which we are anchored in the Word of God. (John 1:1) The Arms of the Cross represent the arms of Christ that welcome us when we become rooted in the Word and accept Jesus as Savior

What more can I say other than – Until Soon