Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Repeat: Be still January 28, 2020

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I ARRIVED A LITTLE EARLY at church Sunday for the 8 a.m. worship service, giving me extra time to view art, writing and more created by students at Faribault Lutheran School and displayed in celebration of National Lutheran Schools Week.

Once upon a time I was actively involved in that event, in planning an annual Book Fest. But that was decades ago when my kids attended FLS.

So this display offered an opportunity to reconnect, to learn more about students, classes and FLS community service projects.

As I browsed the display, my eyes landed on the art of a first grader. My mouth actually dropped. The young student drew a simple picture illustrating Psalm 46:10. That scripture emerged as “my verse” in recent months, popping up in hymns, on a handcrafted paper angel, on a print in my mom’s care center, in devotions… And now here.

As a woman of faith, I see this not as coincidence, but as God desiring to put those words before me. Words I need to see or hear or speak, to comfort me, to bring me peace, to remind me that God is always with me. In deeply challenging days—of which I’ve experienced many in the past year—I feel uplifted yet again.

TELL ME: Have you experienced a similar repetition of scripture, meaningful quotes or such in a time when you most needed them?

© Copyright 2020 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

An unspeakable tragedy in Faribault December 14, 2016

Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo used here for illustration purposes only.

Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo used here for illustration purposes only and not photographed in the area of the current tragedy.

SOMETIMES INCOMPREHENSIBLE TRAGEDIES happen in life that defy understanding. Something so horrible that we can’t wrap our minds around reality. We wonder and weep and wish we would wake up and our world would be unchanged. The darkness gone, replaced by light.

In my community of Faribault, we are wondering this week. Wondering why an eight-year-old girl is dead, apparently shot by the man who was her legal guardian. Local police are calling the deaths of Lynnaya Stoddard-Espinoza and Ryan Perrizo, 33, an apparent murder-suicide. Their bodies were found Sunday afternoon inside their Faribault home. Both suffered gunshot wounds; a handgun was recovered next to Perrizo.

The deaths leave many unanswered questions. Mostly, why? Why did this happen?

Nearly three years ago, on January 31, 2014, Perrizo’s 39-year-old wife, Jodi, died following a sudden illness while vacationing in Florida, according to her obituary. And now these deaths. I can speculate. The police can speculate. The general public can speculate. But until the investigation is complete, we don’t have answers.

We have this fact: Two individuals are dead.

And we have a community affected by this unspeakable tragedy. I think mostly of the surviving families and then of little Lynnaya’s classmates at Faribault Lutheran School, the same school my three children attended. How do you explain Lynnaya’s violent death? How do you reassure and comfort and help these children cope? Can these kids even grasp what has happened? With an enrollment of around 100, Faribault Lutheran is a like a family. Lynnaya’s absence is real and children and adults—teachers, parents, grandparents—are hurting.

How do we as adults explain something we can’t even explain?

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Thanksgiving art November 26, 2013

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The turkey's head was flopping down, so I used my left hand to hold the head in place and then snap this photo.

The turkey’s head was flopping down, so I used my left hand to hold the head in place and then snapped this photo of the paper plate turkey listing items for which this student is thankful.

IN THIS TECHNOLOGY DOMINATED WORLD, it’s refreshing to see that kids are still using crayons and colored paper and, yes, even paper plates to create art.

Art adorns walls in the hallways of Faribault Lutheran School.

Art adorns walls in the hallways of Faribault Lutheran School. Here I’m heading to the second floor landing.

On a recent Sunday morning stroll through the hallways of Faribault Lutheran School with camera in hand, I documented this most basic way of making art during my search for Thanksgiving themed subjects.

Simple crayon art.

Simple crayon art.

Call me old-fashioned, but kids need that hands-on experience of pulling crayons from a box, selecting colored paper, cutting shapes with a scissors, sliding a glue stick across paper and more. This is art in its most basic form.

Hand and feet shapes used to make turkeys. And, bonus, students listed things for which they are thankful.

Hand and foot shapes used to make turkeys. And, bonus, students listed things for which they are thankful.

Who among us doesn’t remember tracing around our hands with a pencil or selecting a sharp-tipped crayon or those first efforts at manipulating a scissors?

Students' versions of pilgrims.

Students’ versions of pilgrims.

This Thanksgiving, remember to unplug and to celebrate the simple joys in life like creating art with paper, crayons, scissors and glue.

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BONUS PHOTOS from the hallways of Faribault Lutheran School:

Here, here are the turkeys.

Here, here are the turkeys and some mighty creative ones.

I have no idea what a turkey gram may be.

I have no idea what a turkey-gram may be.

Students' versions of Native Americans.

Students’ versions of Native Americans.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling