Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

A joyful labyrinth honors faith & family November 3, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 6:00 AM
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MY FRIEND JOY is one of those creative types whose talent and energy seem endless.

She carves and builds and creates, always working on some project that enhances the rural Faribault home she shares with her husband, Steve.

Indoors and out, Joy’s house and yard reflect her individuality, her appreciation for family and history and that which is old or useful or meaningful. Her faith is often interwoven into her projects.

An overview of Joy's backyard labyrinth.

An overview of Joy’s backyard labyrinth.

A few years ago, Joy constructed a labyrinth outside her walk-out basement. It presents for impressive and practical backyard art.

A close-up, without the overall impact of the meditative walk way.

A close-up, without the overall impact of the meditative walk way.

Until this past summer, I’d only seen the labyrinth in the dark, walking it during an evening campfire. I wasn’t prepared for the stunning beauty of this twisting path in the fading hours of daylight.

A mosaic created by Joy.

A mosaic created by Joy.

Wow.

Sample tiles were used in the labyrinth.

Sample tiles were used in the labyrinth.

No wonder this took my friend some three years to construct. She began the labyrinth in 2010, laying selected tile into sections of concrete. Some of those tiles were sample tiles acquired from a friend.

The horse tile celebrates a granddaughter's love of horses.

The horse tile celebrates a granddaughter’s love of horses.

Joy proves always resourceful in reusing and repurposing. There’s not much she will throw.

Precious imprints of loved ones.

Precious imprints of loved ones’ hands and feet.

Grandchildren imprinted hands and footprints.

The focal point and end of the labyrinth, perfect for a prayerful walk.

The focal point and end of the labyrinth, perfect for a prayerful walk.

Memories. Faith. Time. All are intertwined here.

Walking portions of the labyrinth during a photo shoot.

Walking portions of the labyrinth during a photo shoot.

At least once a week, if not more, Joy walks this labyrinth. It is her quiet place, her place of prayer. Right here, created by her gifted hands, in her backyard.

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Dear God, please restore the power October 14, 2014

Parked outside Trinity Lutheran Church North Morristown on Sunday morning for the congregation's annual fall dinner.

Parked outside Trinity Lutheran Church North Morristown on Sunday morning for the congregation’s annual fall dinner.

THE IRISH I M van parked outside the German Lutheran Church makes me laugh.

And it’s good to laugh on a Sunday morning when the power has been out for hours and the Lutheran ladies have been scurrying, along with their anxious husbands, to cart roasters of hot food from the church basement.

It is the morning of Trinity North Morristown’s annual fall dinner and the worst possible date for the power to fail at a nearby substation.

Before worship services on a Sunday morning at Trinity Lutheran Church, North Morristown.

Before worship services on a Sunday morning at Trinity Lutheran Church, North Morristown. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

Upstairs in the sanctuary, pews are nearly empty as congregants scramble to move food to the homes of parishioners with power and to nearby Camp Omega. Eventually the pews fill. The church organist gathers her songbooks from the balcony and hurries to the piano at the front of the sanctuary.

The pastor jokes, during the morning worship service, about his strong and resilient German Lutheran congregation, then prays later for the electricity to come back on.

But when he blesses worshipers, the lights are still out.

So the well isn’t working and the toilet can’t be flushed except it can with water hauled in milk cans to pour into the toilet tank.

Outside, the scent of coffee wafts from an open kettle set atop a propane fueled burner.

Tickets for the dinner are selling and diners file in a side door, up the steps and into pews to await dismissal to the basement. Food has been hauled back, down the stairs, into the semi dark kitchen.

In the dim light of the sanctuary, conversation flows with the comfort that comes from visiting within the close confines of a small country church.

Then, just like that, the lights flick on at 11:10 a.m. Applause erupts. An audible gasp escapes, though, when the power flickers, off and on, before remaining on.

Dinner, tables set

Tables await diners in the church basement. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

Diners file to the basement, the IRISH I M and the Lutherans, to feast on ham and turkey and to give thanks for an answer to prayer.

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

The challenges of aging & prayers answered August 22, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 11:38 AM
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Me with my mom in her Parkview Home room.

Me with my mom in late May.

AS THE DAUGHTER of an aging parent, it is the call you do not want to get—that your mother has fallen and is being transported 130 miles via ambulance to a metro area hospital.

That exact scenario played out earlier this week when my octogenarian mom fell in her assisted living room and suffered multiple severe injuries that landed her in a trauma unit.

It’s been a difficult week. Worrying. Waiting. More injuries added to the initial list. Questions. Tests. Rest, recovery, therapy.

So many emails, text messages and phone calls have been exchanged among siblings, other family members and friends that I’ve lost count. And prayers, lots of prayers, prayed this week.

In the end, Mom, who has faced many medical challenges throughout her years, rallied. Today she is back in the care facility where she moved earlier this spring. She is happy to be home. The staff in this rural small town facility welcomed her with open arms. I am grateful for their concern and care.

And I am thankful for answered prayers. I believe strongly in the power of prayer and the faithfulness of God. So many times this week, I found myself requesting prayers for my Mom and asking for God’s healing hand upon her. Those prayers continue now for her recovery.

I have not seen my mother; she did not want visitors. She realized her need to focus on rest and recovery. That was difficult, but for the best. However, I have seen photos of a woman who appears to have been on the losing end of a bar brawl. She claims to have been scrimmaging with the Minnesota Vikings. It’s good to laugh in the midst of challenges.

And my mom faces the challenges now of recovery, of ongoing physical therapy, of regaining her strength. Her goal is to attend her granddaughter’s wedding in a few weeks. I have no doubt she will achieve that goal. She is a strong woman.

FYI: The online news source, MinnPost, published an interesting story today in a late-in-life healthcare series. The piece focuses on options for those living in rural Minnesota. I’d suggest you read it by clicking here. With families today often living far apart, rural elderly face challenges unlike those of previous generations. I live about 125 miles from my mom.

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

What I’ve learned about prayer April 27, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 6:00 AM
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I WONDER IF GOD ever tires of hearing my prayers.

He doesn’t. Not even when I repeat myself.

A billboard along U.S. Highway 14 between Janesville and Waseca, MN.

A billboard along U.S. Highway 14 between Janesville and Waseca, MN.

Scripture advises continuous and constant prayer. Pray without ceasing.

I didn’t always pray the way I should, praying in a more me-centered manner than asking for God’s will to be done. But I figured out awhile ago that this is not about me getting what I want, but about God figuring out what is best for me. He is in control, not me.

This doesn’t mean I can’t pray for specifics. I can. I do. Often. But in the end, I realize that whatever the answer, it is as God intends.

Do I always like the answer? No. At least not until I determine why God responded as He did. And sometimes I never can quite decipher what He’s thinking. I’m pretty certain, though, that God is way smarter than me. Way smarter.

Patience and trust, I’ve learned, are keys to a healthy prayer life. I’m still learning. God is patient and a good listener. For that I am grateful.

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Hello, God, it’s me March 1, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 11:02 AM
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NEVER UNDERESTIMATE the power of prayer. Never.

Prayer provides a powerful personal portal to God. Consider that connection as immediate as a text message or a phone call away.

The thing about God, you won’t get his voice mail. He’s always listening. Twenty-four seven. He is, after all, our heavenly Father. And what parent wouldn’t love to hear from his/her child on a daily basis? Love works that way.

Yet, just like an earthly father, God doesn’t always give us what we want. Prayer doesn’t work that way. God responds in ways that he deems best. He really is a lot smarter than us.

Oftentimes that’s hard for someone like me, who desires to be in control and possesses minimal patience, to accept. I want the issue resolved yesterday, the direction given immediately, the prayer answered right now exactly as I prayed it.

I imagine God wonders sometimes if I will ever learn. I’m trying, God.

Prayer necklace

Recently I began carrying a medallion in my pocket to remind me of the need to always be prayerful. It’s really a necklace, minus the chain, a piece of jewelry I received during my childhood. I don’t recall who gifted this to me, but I’ve had it for nearly 50 years.

On the front side is an image of praying hands, on the back this inspirational prayer:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Amen.

Prayer necklace back

You likely know this as the Serenity Prayer adopted by Alcoholics Anonymous. I am not an alcoholic. But I am in need of serenity in my life. I tend to worry and stress about issues. Ask my husband.

I recognize that flaw. So this silver dollar sized medallion slipped inside my jean pocket reminds me daily that God is in control. This doesn’t mean I should sit idly and do nothing about certain situations. God doesn’t expect that. But rather, he needs me to understand that he is the one walking beside me through my days.

Oftentimes these days, I find myself sliding my right hand into my pocket, my fingertips brushing the outline of those prayerful hands, the imprint of the raised letters. A sense of peace fills me as my lips whisper a silent prayer.

Another window shows Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Even Jesus prayed, here in the Garden of Gethsemane. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

DEAR READERS, please join me today in praying for the families and friends of three Carleton College students who died in a car crash Friday afternoon at Minnesota Highway 3 and Dakota County Road 47 just outside of Northfield, three miles from campus.

The trio were killed and two other students seriously injured when their car apparently went out of control on an icy and snowy roadway and was broadsided by a semi, according to news reports.

Dead are James Adams of St. Paul, Minnesota; Michael Goodgame of Westport, Connecticut; and Paxton Harvieux of Stillwater, Minnesota. Hospitalized in stable condition in the Twin Cities are Conor Eckert of Seattle, Washington, and Will Sparks of Evanston, Illinois.

I cannot imagine the depth of grief felt by the families, friends, the Carleton College community and the community of Northfield.

A vigil is being held at 11 a.m. today at Skinner Memorial Chapel on the college campus with counseling staff and chaplains available. (Click here to read a message from the president and dean of students at Carleton.)

Please pray for peace, comfort and healing. Prayer provides a powerful personal portal to God. At all times, in all circumstances.

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

“Life can change in an instant”: A Minnesota family in need January 10, 2013

IT IS THE MOMENT we all fear—the late night phone call, the unexpected knock on the door.

For Nina Hedin, a young mother from Glencoe whom I highlighted in a magazine feature about 10 Minnesota bloggers, fear became reality on Saturday afternoon. Her husband, Tom, was seriously injured in a snowmobile accident.

Photo of Nina Hedin published in Minnesota Moments, winter 2012 issue.

I got to know Nina about a year ago, when she was among 10 Minnesota bloggers highlighted in a feature I wrote for Minnesota Moments magazine. This photo of Nina published in that winter 2012 story.

Here then, in Nina’s words, is the beginning of her family’s new reality:

I’ve told this story so many times over the last two days that the words are flying out of my fingers and onto this computer faster than I am thinking them.

Saturday, January 5, Tom left after lunch to ride snowmobile a little bit; he was going to visit a friend just outside of town. Around 3 pm he had still not returned and he had not sent any messages or called. This was VERY unusual for Tom and I was worried. Normally he’ll be out for 30-45 minutes and always, ALWAYS sends me random text messages.

I called friends that Tom sometimes rides with to ask if he had been by.

I hopped online to see if he used our check card anywhere; maybe he stopped for something to eat or there would be another clue.

At 4:30 pm there was a loud knock at the door. My stomach dropped. I knew it would not be good. I knew it. The county sheriff told me that Tom was in an accident and was to be airlifted to HCMC.

Fear, panic, adrenaline…

Nina and Tom Hedin with Jack and June.

Nina and Tom Hedin with Jack and June.

This, dear readers, breaks my heart. Even though I’ve never met Nina or her family, I remained connected to Nina after writing that initial magazine feature (which you can read by clicking here). I continued reading her The Adventures of Artsy Nina blog and we exchanged occasional emails. She is a vivacious, creative (she also runs two Etsy shops, Camp Honeybelle and Nina Baran Upcycled Vintage Jewelry)  and caring individual with a delightful sense of humor.

So when the call went out to Nina’s circle of blogging friends to share the Hedins’ story, I didn’t even have to consider. Helping someone in need, especially a friend, is the right thing to do. And the family needs assistance, both financially and in prayer.

Blogging about an evening out with her husband in early December, Nina wrote:  "We held hands and ran the short block home through the first snow fall of the season, laughing and enjoying the end of a good night."

Blogging about an evening out with her husband in early December, Nina wrote: “We held hands and ran the short block home through the first snow fall of the season, laughing and enjoying the end of a good night.”

Here again, in Nina’s words, are the injuries her beloved Tom suffered:

Injuries listed from top to bottom; brain hemorrhage and complications, fractured orbital (eye) socket, facial lacerations, fractured T6 vertebrae, broken and dislocated right wrist, broken left elbow and fractured upper arm, left knee cap broken with severed tendon and puncture wound, right knee ligament injury.

He faces a long, hard road to recovery. As of yet we are unsure of the extent of damage to the brain, and the recovery time/therapy needed for his limbs and back will take months.

A recent photo of Tom with Jack and June.

A recent photo of Tom with Jack and June.

You can only imagine the insurmountable medical bills this couple in their early 30s, with two children, Jack, 3, and seven-month-old June, will face. An online “Help for Tom Hedin” account has been set up at GiveForward to assist the family with mounting medical and day-to-day expenses. The goal is to raise $100,000 by March 9.

Please consider offering your financial support by clicking here. Together we can make a difference and ease some of this family’s financial worries. Perhaps your friends, church group, family, co-workers, card club, coffee group, etc., can join efforts to collect monies for the Hedins. Every dollar, whether ten or 500, helps.

Because Tom has been with his current employer for only six months, he does not qualify for benefits under the Family and Medical Leave Act. He has been his family’s main source of financial support.

Please also pray for the Hedin family and their medical team. I am a firm believer in the power of prayer.

Tom with Jack and June at Halloween.

Tom with Jack and June at Halloween.

In closing, let’s listen to Nina one last time with this excerpt from her January 8 blog post, “Life Can Change in an Instant”:

It’s a cliche. You hear it all the time, think it some of the time, but you don’t really get it until something happens to you and yours.

Life as you know it can change in an instant.

Hug your kids, your husband, your mom, your dad, your neighbor, your friend. You never, ever know what that next moment might bring.

TO OFFER WORDS of encouragement and support and/or to read the latest updates on Tom’s condition, visit his CaringBridge website by clicking here.

NINA’S BLOGGER CIRCLE of friends is already posting her family’s story. Click here to read a post by Montana resident and former Minnesotan Bernie at One Mixed Bag.

Then click here to read a post by Beth Ann from Iowa at It’s Just Life. For every comment posted to her blog during January and February, Beth Ann is donating 50 cents to the Hedin family for medical expenses. This is part of Beth Ann’s ongoing “Comments for a Cause” campaign. So simply by commenting on any of Beth Ann’s posts during the next two months, you will be helping Tom, Nina, Jack and June.

© Text and photos copyright of Audrey Kletscher Helbling and Nina Hedin
Photos courtesy of Nina Hedin

 

My prayer for our country on election day 2012 November 6, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 8:18 AM
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A message posted on the McNeilus Steel, Inc., building along U.S. Highway 14, Dodge Center, Minnesota. On the company’s website, the family makes this statement: “The McNeilus family acknowledges the providence of God in continued success. We plan to remain privately owned, continue our growth, and provide job security to those who work for us.”

ON THIS TUESDAY, Election Day in the United States of America, I pray that God will bless our great nation and guide those whom we elect.

Exercise your freedom.

Vote.

Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

 
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