Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Reflecting on a Monday morning in Minnesota January 6, 2020

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 12:39 PM
Tags: , , ,

So many winter days lately here in Minnesota have been dominated by cloud-filled grey skies, this scene along Interstate 90 in far southeastern Minnesota.


SUNSHINE RADIATES WARMTH, splashing light into my office on this Monday morning. Such a blessing after too many days of grey skies. Winter in Minnesota can challenge the spirit with endless cold and dreariness. But this morning hope rises in the light.

That all sounds so optimistic and poetic. And I wish I fully believed those words, although I am trying to be more positive. Yet, it’s difficult when the current global situation prompts concern about the stability and safety of our world, our country, our state, our communities.

My thoughts are all over the place today. Negative. Positive.


Another winter scene along Interstate 90 in rural southeastern Minnesota. I noticed a thin break in the pressing cloud line.


This morning, after finishing my devotions, I picked up the gratitude journal gifted to me several days ago by a friend. I reread what I’d written. Gratefulness for a lengthy hand-penned letter from a loving friend who also gifted Randy and me with a gift certificate to a favorite Faribault restaurant. Gratitude for Randy receiving a gift certificate for a pie from the Trinity Pie Makers after entering a “name that Christmas hymn” contest at our church. Gratitude for our grandson turning one. Gratitude for the annual holiday dinner out at a new Northfield restaurant compliments of Randy’s employer.

Those are all really good things and I am grateful for each.

They balance the ongoing challenges of life. My mom in the process of dying. Other family members dealing with major health issues complicated by limited and costly health insurance that includes unaffordable premiums and high deductibles and insurers thinking they can dictate what care/prescriptions an insured should get. I’ve written previously about our own financial struggles with health insurance and I’m hearing more and more about just how bad the situation is for a lot of people.

Yesterday, as I started reading the stack of magazines and books I picked up from the local library (I am so grateful for libraries), I came across two articles mentioning health insurance in the December 2019 issue of The Writer magazine. In both stories, the freelance writers mentioned the high cost of health insurance and how fortunate they are to have coverage through their spouses. Two stories out of 11 referencing health insurance seems significant in a 48-page magazine.


Blue sky breaks through the bank of clouds along a rural county road between Faribault and Morristown last week.


Something needs to change. But change seems slow in coming. First there needs to be a recognition among politicians that a real problem exists with the current health insurance system.

I could write lots more on the topic. But, as I look outside my office window at the sunshine, as I press keyboard letters that write words upon a screen, I feel grateful that I can create. I have that freedom. I live in a wonderful community, which though imperfect, is a pretty darned sweet place to live. Today, sunshine breaks through the clouds.

© Copyright 2020 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


21 Responses to “Reflecting on a Monday morning in Minnesota”

  1. BERNADETTE Thomasy Says:

    Audrey, my sympathy on the loss of your mother. Yes, those grey winter days can make challenges harder to bear. So glad you have some sunshine today. The healthcare insurance problems are deeply affecting many more people than most realize. Please keep putting the issue out there. It will help someday.

    • Oh, Bernadette, I just corrected my post to read that my mom is in “the process” of dying. She’s on hospice. Poor choice in the original wording on my part.

      I hesitated to even mention the healthcare insurance problems again as I don’t want to sound like a whiner. But it’s such a major issue and I feel like those who can affect change are not listening. Or don’t understand how so many people are being hard hit financially.

  2. The sunshine always helps to lift my spirits as well so I am glad you saw some sun today. It is a tough time –so many worries and concerns but I am glad you were able to find some spots of happiness and joy today. keep looking for those and I will as well.

  3. Cheryl schrader Says:

    I am sorry to hear about your mother she is a wonderful person. I encourage you to get involved in the political process. Attend town hall meetings write emails AND encourage others to do the same. Doing so at the same time works really well. The healthcare issue will only change when WE make it change. Trust me it can happen.

    • Thank you for your encouragement to get more involved via attending meetings and sending emails. I emailed my state representative months ago on the health insurance issue and never heard back. Is that the norm? I felt unheard and often feel like our elected representatives have specific agendas and don’t listen all that well to constituents.

      Thanks for your kind words about Mom. I agree that she is a wonderful person, which makes it all the harder to watch her decline. I hold onto the good memories and remind myself how blessed I am to have had her here all these years. She taught me so much about caring for others and about serving and about trusting in God.

  4. valeriebollinger Says:

    Sunshine definitely helps when looking for the bright side…no pun intended. It just helps…too many grey days can drag us down.

  5. So sorry about your mom, Audrey. It’s a hard thing no matter how old you are, when a parent is seriously ill. Grey days weigh on me this time of year. I know it’s been good to see the sun here recently. Take care, my Dear Friend.

  6. Audrey, your words spoke volumes to me today. I reside a few 100 miles straight West of you in South Dakota. I have a sun lamp that is supposed to help the dreary down days, but I find there is good results also from communicating with our creator. I believe he created these seasons to temper our hearts and minds and adjust accordingly. I have managed to stay out of the old folk home, hope I have many more days in this apartment. My wife went home to be with the Lord last April. It takes some adjusting I am slowly learning.
    Thank you for sharing your faith and knowledge.

    • Leland, now your words are speaking to me. Talking to the Creator is such good advice because He cares for us more than anyone. I’m always amazed by how, when reading my bible, the scripture in that moment meets my needs/uplifts/causes me to pause and think. I know you feel the same. Thank you for sharing your faith stories. You are amazing in your positive attitude and your ability to handle the struggles of life. I am so sorry for the loss of your beloved wife. You live a life of faith. Thank you for inspiring.

  7. Audrey,
    I would like to encourage you to use your resources as a writer to FIX the issues that concern you and your community. The elected officers have to listen if you keep in their face that it is an issue. Get your fellow church members to help, co workers, relatives. Encourage your local Mayor to co sign a letter on official letterhead to your Congressman. They tend not to gloss over those letters…hint hint.
    Get the Rotary Club to invite you to speak on this topic. These are people from your community that have a great deal of pull and connections.
    I would also send your article to the Twin Cities newspapers editors for publishing. The more eyes, ears, and brains on the subject the better the possibilities for change.
    Hope this helps….

  8. Ruth Says:

    Sunshine in your heart and mind is what I feel when I read your words❤️

  9. Littlesundog Says:

    Your photographs always make me think of my original home in Nebraska. I don’t miss the cold at all, and cloudy and blustery days sure can get a person down. But there is also real, stark beauty in the amazing sky and the wide open spaces where winter and all living things wait for the first nudges of spring.

    I am sorry to hear about your mother’s decline. We went through three months of hospice for Forrest’s mother last year at this time and it certainly can weigh on family and friends. But there are good things to be gleaned from having a bit of time to spend in thankfulness and appreciation for her role in your life. There is also good in the letting go, helping her pass with love and caring hands and words. I believe it is our greatest gift to help another move from this life to the loving arms of the Creator.

    • Thank you for your empathetic words, Lori. I returned a short time ago from a visit with my mom. Five hours of drive time for a 1.5 hour visit. But so worth it. She was having a “good day,” an absolute blessing to engage in conversation, share my gratitude for her and tell her, once again, “I love you.”

      And, yes, en route and back, I got my prairie fix. Photos to come at some point.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.