Unheralded

CHUCK SCHUMACHER: Coach Chuck — Feel Good Moments

“My son, Zach has worked eight years to become an acclaimed athlete at his middle school and now can’t reap any of the privileges. He says it doesn’t matter, but it stinks for all the eighth-graders — it’s not fair.” “My daughter, Kelsey just lost her senior year in volleyball after years of dedication to the sport she loves. It’s …


Unheralded

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Ribs And Tacos: It’s The Little Things That Matter, After A Long Trip Through The Darkness

And so we’re a week into Summer, emerging from what I think is the darkest Spring of my life (my personal style book says capitalize the seasons, but I am almost reluctant to do so this year — this Spring doesn’t really deserve any recognition). The only Springs darker that I can recall are 1968, the year I got drafted, …


PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — In God We Trust

I hate the phrase “Everything happens for a reason.” I despise it because it draws to mind a picture of God who is somehow responsible for the result of human sin, the brokenness of our imperfect world and everything that results from those things. It pictures a God who is a master puppeteer, controlling our actions as part of some …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — My Father Dies On Memorial Day

My father died on the morning of Memorial Day as “Taps” was playing on the nursing home televisions. Although we have been Skyping with him when possible during the lockdown and my sister and I each accompanied him for two separate medical appointments at Sanford Clinic, we were not allowed to be with him in his final days, even though …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — Traveling On The Spiritual Path

I usually begin planning my next trip during the waning days of the one I’m on, so this summer is more than a bit unusual. I have no bookmarked spots in Tripadvisor, no routes saved on Google Maps, no flights booked. I am not planning anything, except surgery on my foot, since I’m not going anywhere. My hobby is traveling. …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — Church Is More Than A Building

My congregation never closed. … Nor did the church. Since we began this time of Great Separation, the church I serve, Emanuel Lutheran in Hartford, Conn., has been alive and well. We have had worship — real worship — each week.  It may have been prerecorded, but God was present and Christ was praised — through song, children’s sermons, virtual choirs …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — A Time To Grieve

I watched the “Graduate Together” celebration of the Class of 2020 this weekend and truly enjoyed the efforts to highlight and rejoice with those students who will not get a traditional graduation ceremony this year. However, I must admit to having a little bit of trepidation about the efforts to place a Band-Aid on the consequences of COVID-19 and those …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Gardening Notes No. 57

An early warm spell lured Mr. Green Jeans into planting his tomatoes May 1. Last week’s cold snap killed most of his precious hand-raised heirloom seedlings. He says it is worth the risk because of our short growing season. I’m not much of a risk-taker, but the vegetable garden is his territory, so I try to stay out of it …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — Finding True Peace And Joy

There have been moments when 2020 has just seemed too … much. I was talking to someone the other day and they mentioned something about the U.S. being on the brink of war with Iran in January and I had completely forgotten that happened. And the fact that Australia was on fire. It’s just been too much this year, so …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — ‘I Don’t Know What To Do’: A Coronavirus Conversation With Grief Therapist Dr. Patrick O’Malley

As doctors, nurses and first responders have tended to the physical devastation wrought by the pandemic, my friend, the Fort Worth, Texas, grief therapist Dr. Patrick O’Malley, and his colleagues have been working to help us cope with the profound emotional, psychological and spiritual challenges of this moment. I was Patrick’s co-author of the 2017 book “Getting Grief Right: Finding …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — This Is Just F**king Stupid

The newspaper stories this morning said “North Dakota Gov.Doug Burgum said he intends to allow closed businesses to reopen Friday, May 1.” Well, isn’t that special. A great big May basket for North Dakota. Happy May Day. The rest of the story: “The State Health Department on Monday also announced 75 new cases of COVID-19, marking the second-highest single-day total …

ED MAIXNER: The COVID-19 Governor Factor: Wishing Y’all The Best!

Hoping to avoid COVID-19? Survive it if you get it? Who’s your state’s governor? In many states, that may matter. Our individual odds for surviving COVID-19 are emerging as somewhat of a crapshoot, dependent on countless ways we can avoid or contract the virus and, if you get it, to a large degree how healthy your heart and lungs are …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — Paving The Road To Failure

It is possible to be a positive and encouraging leader, one who is able to weigh the balance between being honest and factual while also instilling hope. Franklin D. Roosevelt and Dwight D. Eisenhower both embodied these characteristics, as did Winston Churchill. And many U.S. governors of both parties are displaying those characteristics each day right now. It is also …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — Unmasking Our Feelings

Context is everything. As I was preparing for my sermon this week — on the wonderful Gospel story about Jesus, who on the day of his Resurrection, joined two of his followers as they walked the seven miles from Jerusalem to Emmaus — I read the same comment at least three different times. In the story, the two companions did not recognize …

RON SCHALOW: Dumb And Dumber

For years after 9/11, President George W. Bush would tell dozens of audiences some variation of his “ocean’s theory of complacent defense.” Like this one from 2002: “No, it’s a different kind of war than our nation has seen in the past. One thing that’s different is oceans no longer keep us safe,” he explained to the folks at the …

TONY J BENDER: That’s Life — Isolation Quiz

Hey folks, if you’re like me, a natural social-distancer, not much has changed except now I have an excuse. Well, OK, a few things have changed. I’ve had so much time on my hands I actually felt compelled to bake bread last week — beer bread, specifically. I’d still be in the kitchen, but I ran out of Grain Belt. …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — Reaping What We Sow

“Good leadership takes all of the blame and none of the credit.” As I was sorting through papers during my daily hour of deep cleaning, I came across this quote I gave to someone who interviewed me for a paper on leadership. I believe this is the key problem that is plaguing our country today and the reason that the …

TERRY DULLUM: The Dullum File — What Would Monk Do?

One lasting thing this pandemic will leave behind with us, I believe, will be a new regard for cleanliness. In addition to social distancing, we’re told day after day to wash our hands. It’s like a mantra. Wash your hands. From time to time in the past month, I’ve found myself wondering, “What would Monk do?” To explain. Adrian Monk …

NANCY EDMONDS HANSON: After Thought — Behind The Mask

Russ and I could hardly contain our excitement this morning as we suited up for the biggest moment of our fourth week of house arrest: a festive, much-anticipated trip to Old People’s Happy Hour at our neighborhood supermarket. We’d stayed up late (well, after 9) last night to plan the expedition. Do we need coffee? Toothpaste? Cheetos? Toilet paper, of …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — A Time To Lament

“O Lord, my God and Savior, by day and night I cry to you. Let my prayer enter into your presence; incline your ear to my lamentation.” — Psalm 88:1-2 Good Friday is my favorite service in the church year and one of the reasons is because it is a service of lament. We as a society don’t really like …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Full Moons, Good Friday And Easter

There was a big old full moon this week, April’s “Pink Moon,” and we went looking for a spot for watching the moonrise. But as luck would have it, it was cloudy and the moon was mostly obscured for a couple of hours after it rose. As we were driving home, though, we saw it mostly emerge as we drove …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — Love In Action

“Little children, let us love, not in word or speech but in truth and action.” — 1 John 3:18 Today, and the next three days leading up to the great celebration of Easter, are going to be really hard ones for many people of faith. The ebb and flow of our lives are often built around the church year, and …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — Waiting Upon The Lord

“They who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary. They shall walk and not faint.”  — Isaiah 40:31 Waiting is hard. It always has been, of course, but in the past few decades, we have increasingly become an instant gratification society. We used to …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — God Is Always With Us

“Yea though I walk through the Valley of the Shadow of death, thou art with me. Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” — Psalm 23:4 I keep thinking about people dying alone. And it breaks my heart. I was in Europe when my dad died, but I was able to talk to him on the phone as they …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — Walking By Faith

“For we walk by faith and not by sight” — 2 Cor. 5:7 My vision recently altered. I had the flu in January and in the aftermath, my previously very controlled prediabetis/diabetes went haywire. It took me awhile to figure out what was going on because I just thought it was residual from the flu and an infection that followed. …

RON SCHALOW: North Dakota First?

Were we — the state of North Dakota — seriously obligated to wait for Donald Trump to finish bungling the initial response to the Novel Coronavirus before we — the state of North Dakota — acted aggressively to combat the virus? The necessary information was public, and the experts were screaming and blowing air horns at policymakers since January. Was any state required to …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — Write This Down

A few days ago, I opened a purple, college-ruled composition notebook, noted the date on the first page, March 23, 2020, and launched into what I am calling The Coronavirus Journal. “What else to call it?” I began. “We are living through one of the most cataclysmic moments in the history of man, or so it seems. Could the wackiest …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Solitude in Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Theodore Roosevelt said, “Keep your eyes on the stars and your feet on the ground,” so we took those words to heart and stole away to the Bad Lands on Tuesday. My sisters and I traveled to Theodore Roosevelt National Park in our separate cars and maintained our social distance. The fresh air and time on the trail greatly renewed …

TONY J BENDER: That’s Life — Let Them Sing

You may remember the television series, “The Waltons,” a Depression-era slice of Americana based on Earl Hamner’s experiences in the Virginia hills. The series reflected one family’s good-natured resilience and resourcefulness in hard times. Every evening when the lights were turned off, the stillness was broken by voices saying good night. I imagine it in these times: “Good night, Grandpa.” …

JIM THIELMAN: What? They Closed The Barbershop?

The coronavirus has closed a lot of businesses, including barbershops, whose gravitational pull was once the envy of any trade. Shuttering these shops decades ago would have gagged communication in small towns and urban neighborhoods. Any news worthwhile to the citizenry was heard in Dad’s barbershop, long before it arrived at the newspaper office. The simple marketing genius of a …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — We Need Each Other

“Let us be concerned for one another, to help one another to show love and to do good. Let us not give up the habit of meeting together, as some are doing. Instead, let us encourage one another all the more, since you see that the Day of the Lord is coming nearer.” — Hebrews 10:24-25 My family held our …

TOM COYNE: Back In Circulation — A Wake-up Call

It’s suddenly become vital to all of us: The need to practice “social distancing” to “flatten the curve” of a now out-of-control pandemic known as COVID-19. Admit it. Two weeks ago, most of us wouldn’t have had a clue what any of that meant. Way back then, I was mostly worried about putting up a new big screen TV in …

TONY J BENDER: That’s Life — Live Smart But Keep Living

I’m sitting in front of my computer trying to arrange a flight home from West Virginia University for India. As I write, West Virginia is the only state in the union without a documented case of the Coronavirus, still things feel a little safer out here in our prairie isolation. It feels a little like it did in the days …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — ‘Behold I Am Doing A New Thing’

Paula Mehmel, senior pastor of Emanuel Lutheran Church in Hartford, Conn., along with her church leadership and staff, decided recently to move to virtual worship in the wake of the coronavirus crisis. In the meantime, she is doing some regular devotionals for her parish that she has decided to share. Here is today’s, from Isaiah 43:19. As I awoke for …

CLAY JENKINSON: The Jefferson Watch — Running The Vaccine Gauntlet

I had a wonderful tour last week of the state Capitol of Virginia at Richmond. It was conducted by my old friend, Mark Greenough, the chief of interpretation, and someone who occasionally portrays John Marshall, the chief justice of the Supreme Court. As we entered the Capitol, we walked the gauntlet of about 100 women, many of them with children, …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — Hard Realities and Hope: A Conversation With My Friend The Physician, Writer And Thinker, Dr. Craig Bowron

A few weeks ago, on a Minnesota trip to visit my family, I also got together with my friends, Craig and Stephanie Bowron. For a couple of hours in their St. Paul home, Stephanie played piano, Craig and I played guitars, and we sang ourselves hoarse, everything from the Beatles to Johnny Cash. That seems like a lifetime ago now. …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — The Puppy And The Pandemic

You might remember Thursday, when the stock market decline was the worst in decades and news of the coronavirus pandemic seemed to grow more grim by the hour. A bad day, for sure. And yet … There was Dave Brown. My wife and I had tickets to see the Eagles at the American Airlines Center in Dallas next week. We …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — A Health Crisis

Occasionally, I will hear from people that they don’t care about politics, that what happens in Washington doesn’t affect them. They don’t like the chaos or behavior of the current administration, but the stock market is doing well, so they can look the other way in the face of the rise in autocratic fascism that is threatening our national security …