Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Connecting April 18, 2020

This quarter-sized token, gifted to me some time ago by my friend Beth Ann, lies on my computer desk.


IF YOU’RE LIKE ME, you find yourself reaching out daily to check on family and friends. Now, more than ever, it seems important to connect via mail, email, text, phone calls or video chatting. I need reassurance that people in my life are OK and know they are loved and supported. Likewise, people have done the same for me. And more.


Face masks crafted by my blogger friend Penny.


Earlier this week I received a package from a Texas blogger. I’ve never met Penny, but we’ve followed each other’s blogs for years and also exchanged emails. Inside the padded envelope I found four cloth face masks. Penny, who is an incredibly kind and loving soul, has been sewing masks for people in her community. And beyond. She also included a lovely card and note. Her gift felt like a hug from across the country.


Paul Schell, whom I photographed several years ago painting at the park. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.


And yesterday I received an equally lovely note from a Faribault artist who grew up in my native Redwood County. I first met Paul several years ago while photographing artists at a summer evening concert. Paul sat far removed from everyone, quietly painting in a corner of Central Park. Since then, his skills as a watercolor artist progressed. Several years back he gifted me with a print of a destination waterfalls in Redwood Falls. And on the card I received Friday was his watercolor of Moland Lutheran Church, which I’ve written about several times on this blog. The card and accompanying note were unexpected. I must add that Paul mentioned a favorite community cafe, Stacy’s Kitchen in Wabasha, per my post the other day about small town eateries. I so appreciate the time Paul took to gift me with his art and his note.


The Warner Press blog page shows some of the most recent posts.


Cards are a great way to connect. I’ve always been big on sending cards. Last week “Connecting with Cards” was the topic of my blog post for Warner Press, a Christian publishing company based in Anderson, Indiana. I work remotely as Warner’s blog coordinator. I invite you to click here, read that post and then start your own card outreach/ministry.


Encouragement from Beth Ann in a mini card.


I have one friend in particular, Beth Ann from North Carolina (I met her when she lived in Iowa), who is especially gifted at uplifting and encouraging others. When our family was going through some really difficult times, she sent me cards and extra encouraging items. What a blessing. I felt so loved.


Coloring can be calming and therapeutic.


We can all spread the love. I think especially of those in nursing homes. Like my mom on hospice and my father-in-law. We’ve received letters from both care centers about ways these facilities are trying to keep loved ones connected via technology. That won’t work for my mom. But I can still mail cards to her. And I’ve thought of coloring a picture, like I did for my two grandchildren for Easter. Sometimes we need to color outside the lines.

And sometimes we need to go old school by picking up the phone and calling those without technology. Voice to voice so we can hear the laughter, the inflections, the worries, the joys. On Thursday I phoned two aunts—one in Missouri and the other in New Jersey. As our conversation grew to a close, my Aunt Dorothy said, “I love you, My Little Princess.” I felt overcome by emotion at those sweet words. “My Little Princess.” It’s the endearing name Dorothy has called me my entire life. She was the big city aunt who occasionally returned to southwestern Minnesota to visit family. Dorothy arrived with tubes of discarded lipstick and jewelry and arms full of love. She would wrap me in a hug and whisper those endearing words, “I love you, My Little Princess.”

Today please take the time to connect with someone who needs to hear that same message—that they are loved.


From the front page of the Faribault Daily News.



I dedicate today’s post to the Rev. Craig Breimhorst, who died on Thursday due to complications from COVID-19. A resident of my community of some 24,000, Pastor Breimhorst was the first person in Rice County, Minnesota, diagnosed with the virus. He became ill in mid-March, a day after returning from a trip to the Holy Land. He was the pastor of Christ Lutheran Church in Faribault for 30 years and currently served part-time as pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church, West Concord.

Although I didn’t know Pastor Breimhorst, I have read enough social media comments to see how deeply he was loved and valued as a person and as a pastor. Blessed be his memory.


Disclaimer: I am paid for my work with Warner Press.

© Copyright 2020 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


25 Responses to “Connecting”

  1. Almost Iowa Says:

    Love the masks! It’s so good to hear how people are reaching out to lift each others spirits.

    • A woman in the Walmart parking lot (yes, I needed stuff) asked this morning where I got my mask and complimented me on how mice it looked. She wants one but has not been able to secure one. I told her mine came from my friend Penny in Texas. I felt so bad for her, that I couldn’t direct her to a source.

      • Almost Iowa Says:

        It is sad because what is stopping us from making masks and many other people is the shortage of elastic for the head straps. You simply can’t find it anywhere

      • That’s what I’ve heard. Thank you for all the masks you and Julie have sewn.

      • Almost Iowa Says:

        Here is a rather frightening thought. You know my son is making hand sanitizer at his distillery. Yesterday he sold a batch to the Amazon warehouse in Shakopee. If the supply chain is so screwed up that a Powerhouse like Amazon can’t get hold hand sanitizer that’s scary

      • Oh, boy. Yeah, that’s scary. It will be interesting to see how Amazon prices that handsanitizer. Thank you to Loon Liquor for their part in this fight against COVID-19.

        My brother is the CEO of an ethanol plant in sw MN. They are supplying denatured 190 proof alcohol to the hand sanitizer industry. Their vendors have shipped product to eight plus states.

      • Almost Iowa Says:

        It is interesting how the industry stepped up. Before the pandemic, my son was distilling alcohol from organic wheat.

        The fermentation process took over a week.

        When Covid broke out, they took what they had on hand to make sanitizer. Mostly, they just gave that away.

        Then they switched to commercial corn sugar, which sped up the fermentation process to a couple of days. They still gave it away, but asked for donations to cover the cost, which people gladly gave.

        Now they team up with other craft distillers to order tankers of alcohol (maybe from your brother). They then ship the tankers to the cities and load it into totes (you have seen them around the farm or at breweries). These they take back to their facilities to fill smaller bottles.

        They still give away a lot – but for their larger orders, they simply say, “pay what you were paying before the pandemic).

        This way, they and their fellow distillers can pay their bills and keep their staff employed. Beyond that the margins are lean. The big pay-off, hopefully, will be the goodwill they are generating.

      • Thank you to your son at Loon Liquors and all the other craft distillers who are stepping up to help during this global pandemic.

  2. Marilyn Donnell Says:

    I have been thinking about this factor in making connections: keep the heart right. If our heart is right we can be used in however small a way.

    • I agree. Do what we can. Something as simple as sending a card or calling someone can make all the difference. This morning I am really missing my family. I long to see them and hug them. But things just seem to be ramping up in Minnesota with COVID and I think we will be in this for awhile.

  3. What a beautiful post. It is such an easy thing to send a card and it can really turn someone’s day around. I have been making cards in the down time lately since my stash was looking pretty skinny due to just being too busy to make them. It has been a great thing to be able to do and now I have a bunch ready to go again. You just never know how a quick note will lift a person’s day, do you? That is what I love about snail mail. I have been trying to reach out to some local friends here who might not be able to get out and get things and just checking on them. Our county still has only had 7 cases and all of them were being treated at home so not major . I am praying that continues. Love that your work for Warner Press is reaching so many at a time that hope is needed.

  4. Ruth Says:

    What a lovely post although I’m sorry for the loss of the Pastor. I have a friend who texts me from Florida every morning to wish me a good day. It’s been a reassurance, to know she cares how I am doing. Audrey, your post will inspire others to make connections. ❤️

  5. BERNADETTE Thomasy Says:

    A touching post in so many way, Audrey. Thank you for reminding us of all the little ways we can reach out to people — ways that make a big difference. Your dedication to the pastor who lost his life to complications from Covid-19 shows us the importance of acting each day to make those connections; one never knows who will be affected by the pandemic.

  6. Philip Holum Says:

    I’m sure the death of the pastor must be quite a loss for many people. But, just think, he must have had a trip of a lifetime before returning home, a real blessing. Phil/Eagle Bend

  7. Thank you for the sweet mention here, Audrey. You’re right, our connection to others, especially at this time is so important. Bless you and your family. Hugs! ❤

  8. Littlesundog Says:

    I’m such an introvert and maybe even very much a loner, that I am not sure I am one who needs checking on. Maybe I’m the oddball. As I grow older, I have found more connection in nature than with humans. About a month ago my lifelong friend (also named Lori!) called to check on Forrest and me, saying she’d been making calls to check on people. Normally, Lori and I talk two to three times a year, but lately she’s been calling weekly. It hadn’t occurred to me to check on people more often – other than keeping up with family, which I haven’t partaken in any more than usual. I do understand the collective consciousness as a group of friends, or a state or country. It is good to be a part of something positive – a movement or in support of something. For each of us this distancing and social disconnect means something different. It hasn’t been difficult for me at all. I walk a different road I suppose… keeping up with the people that I always have.
    I loved what you said about going “old school” with the phone. I do that with letter writing too. Again, that is something I have always done. You know you made a good point… perhaps this pushes some to “color outside the lines”, pushing ourselves to evolve and discover. What is it that brings us joy? Whatever it is, is ok.

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