March 2010 Archives

Getting More Good out of Doing Good


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Foodshelf Donations (every Sunday in March) on Palm Sunday

(letter to the Editor of the Northern Star newspaper)

March is the season when we consider those in need and contribute to our local area emergency food shelf. Our church asks congregants to bring bags of food to set in the church aisle every Sunday in the month of March. The children bring the bags up to the altar as part of our offerings. It is a joy to watch the little children struggling to carry all the generous contributions up to the front of the church. What a good lesson for them!

I've found a way to get three benefits from this March food drive:

1) Helping others. Our friends and neighbors, sometime unbeknown to us, use the Big Stone Area foodshelf. Some for the first time ever- after many years of hard work and frugal living.

2) Support local business: I purchase my foodshelf donations from Bonnie's Hometown Grocery on mainstreet Clinton. This helps keep a mainstreet business running and benefits all of by keeping our local grocery store healthy so we can buy our food close to home. I purchase food from the weekly specials circular to donate- healthy fruits and vegetables and staple items.

3) Buy Locally Grown Foods: Food grown by local farmers contributes directly to our farm economy. For example, Bonnie's is running a special on Dakota Growers pastas this week (March 16-21). Dakota Growers was formed by North Dakota farmers and makes their noodles in New Hope, Minnesota and Carrington, ND. So I will buy a couple couple cases of this brand of noodles and know that I'm helping keep dollars "local" (compared to foods grown and processed in China- for example). I would also like to add that when I found out that Dakota Grown has whole wheat and organic pastas, Bonnie said she would look into carrying them in the store. Bonnie has always added items to her shelves when we've asked her too.

So I encourage you to give to our local causes, support our local businesses, and support our local farmers all in one generous act.

For the Record


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Flax in North Dakota- photo by Ann Hoffert

It is spring and a girl's mind turns to... crops. The land we live and farm on has, in recent memory, grown the following crops:

Milo (grain sorghum)
Mustard (on purpose - to sell)

In the 15 years that I've known this land (lived here for two growing seasons) it has only known corn and soybean. But a girl's got a right to dream...

Choices and Patterns


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Lake Yergensen- March 17, 2010- our south forty

This morning I had to choose between laser pink/orange sun rising over the edge of the world or watching the first flock of geese flying low directly over my head. The first light is just a pinpoint and then a huge rising globe larger than any Serengeti sunrise you've ever seen on a documentary about Africa. I chose the geese because they are more ephemeral than the sun.

There is something special about the pre-sunrise and early dawn. The worlds isn't exposed to any harsh glares. Everything is muted and then pink. The low sun lights the geese from beneath and they shine in the sky. For me this is the best time of the day- full of wonder, hope and promise.

They are back. After 105 days down south the first two geese dropped low in our yard and honked as they flew directly in front of my kitchen window last Sunday. As we walked down the driveway this morning, a huge flock (in the hundreds, not 10's of thousands yet) flew up from our south forty "lake." We could see other large flocks rising up to the north- Alma said "the bus must be coming." The bus scares up the other flocks that are in the potholes to the north and west of us.

The patterns of this pothole prairie are emerging for me. The season changing... the darkness and the angles of the sun...sounds and silence...the smells...the taste of Girl Scout cookies (Thin Mints) which are now indelibly linked with the first thaw and those first geese of the season.

I have three school years of walking my kids down the driveway to the school bus.

Year 1- 2 preschoolers (3 year olds) and a 2nd grader
Year 2- 2 preschoolers (4 year olds) and a 3rd grader
Year 3- 2 kindergarteners and a 4th grader

There's even a gentle pattern in our kids getting older. But if I could hold them at this very moment in time- I would. I am already preparing myself to miss them when I am an old women walking out on the prairie to take in the seasons. These are the good old days. I know it and savor every moment of it that I can.

In the mean time, just like last year, they played in the ice water until they couldn't stand it one more minute and came clunking to the house sobbing with frozen feet in their farm boots filled with slushy snow water.

I walk a few miles, reverently, because running would be too loud. I hear the symphony of geese everywhere around me. As the sun rises there are more and more geese- louder and louder. Today, this very day, winter is bursting. I am giddy. My heart and soul are full of gratitude for the beauty above me, beauty below me, beauty all around me.

Ten Days of Fog

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We had 10 days of low, dense fog and 32.8 degree weather.

And the BOOM! It warms up to 37 degrees and the water flows.

Lots of Heart

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Jump Rope for Heart Event as School

Last week we had a school and community celebration focused around jump roping and giving. Dozens of kids and parents played in the school gym last Friday night- followed by dinner in the school cafeteria (thank you).

The 2nd-6th graders were part of Jump Rope for Heart- with donations going to the American Heart Association. The families in our small towns raised nearly $4,000 for this event - well beyond the goal of $2,500.

It's such a great lesson for the kids to raise money for a cause that is not about them, their school, or their direct needs. It is 100% about giving to others- others outside of our community. And that is a value worth celebrating and jumping about. Kudos to Mrs. Fisher who has been the school coordinator of this event for many years- judging by the row of banners streaming along the gym ceiling from years past.

The local Township fund drives are another new thing to me. Our little township only has 90-some people (on a good summer day) and yet every year they pass the hat for a slate of worthy causes- about 20 different organizations from Sister Kenney's Rehab Center to the county's First Responders. I'm always amazed how much so few people can give as the newspaper published the list of donations township by township.

It seems to me that what Big Stone County may lack in rich folks, it makes up for with giving hearts.

Congregations Caring for Creation


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Church furnace room in Clinton, MN- ECONAR GeoSource Geothermal Heat Pump

Today I received a Lenten e-mail update from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) on Climate Justice: Climate Change and Economics. The article talks about what churches can do to reduce carbon footprints, save energy, etc...

I have zero (0) bragging rights- but am deeply proud to belong to (having stumbled upon) a congregation that, without fanfare, happens to be one of the most environmentally progressive churches I know of. It's in Clinton, Minnesota on the South Dakota border- population 401.

I first fell in love with this church for a small thing- a 2 inch by 5 inch laminated note on the church kitchen refrigerator door. It said:

"It is a Trinity Church policy that NO plastic foam products can be used at church functions. Effective July 11, 1989."

Years before others began calling for an end to styrofoam, this church simply outlawed it. Now granted, it may have been passed by a church council "man" who didn't have to wash the ceramic coffee cups (I washed my first coffee cups yesterday in fact). But, for the two years we've been enjoying the smell, taste and companionship of Trinity Lutheran church coffee and no "Lutheran Brotherhood" styrofoam cups have graced our tables.

What's more, I stumbled upon the row of Geothermal heat pumps in the basement-- installed 10+ years ago when oil was about $8 per barrel and no one was thinking energy conservation. Leadership, foresight, and long term environmental and financial stewardship all tucked away together in a church basement furnace room out on the prairie.

It seems to me a quiet practicality and stewarding of resources that, in fact, make life more pleasant. As a part of creation myself, I appreciate drinking coffee from a real cup on Sunday mornings. Talk about congregations for creation.

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This page is an archive of entries from March 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

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