Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Part IV from Wanamingo: Touring Trinity Church March 24, 2016

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Trinity Lutheran Church, 301 Second Avenue, Wanamingo, Minnesota.

Trinity Lutheran Church, 301 Second Avenue, Wanamingo, Minnesota.

THE LUTHERAN CHURCH STANDS solid on a corner lot a few blocks off Wanamingo’s Main Street. Brick strong. Enduring strong. In the faith strong.

The cornerstone of this ELCA church is dated 1922, to the left in this photo.

The cornerstone of this ELCA church is dated 1922, to the left in this photo.

A cornerstone on Trinity Lutheran Church simply notes LUTHERAN CHURCH 1922. I know nothing more about the history of this congregation, of this building.

The beautiful sanctuary as photographed from the balcony.

The beautiful sanctuary as photographed from the balcony.

That matters not. For I appreciate churches like this which are lovely houses of worship. For these truly are houses to the families of faithful. Therein, worshipers, if not related by blood, are related by the commonality of faith and lives shared. They truly become family in joy and in grief.

One of my favorite stained glass windows in Trinity is this one of Ruth gathering grain to help support her mother-in-law. The window is partially covered by the balcony.

One of my favorite stained glass windows in Trinity is this one of Ruth gathering grain to help support her mother-in-law. The window is partially covered by the balcony. To me, this window symbolizes deep love and devotion to family.

This trio of stained glass windows rises above the altar.

This trio of stained glass windows rises above the altar.

One of the windows flanking the side of the sanctuary.

One of the windows flanking the sanctuary.

Within the walls of an aged sanctuary like Trinity, visual symbols of faith embrace those who enter therein. Intricate stained glass windows shine the light of grace and of Scripture.

One can only imagine the messages delivered from this sturdy pulpit.

One can only imagine the messages delivered from this sturdy pulpit.

The sturdy pulpit with its handcarved trim looms as a time-honored place for preaching of the Word, the wood dulled by the hands of many preachers.

Balcony pews.

Balcony pews.

Worn pews reflect the history of generations.

Another view from the church aisle.

Another view, this from the center church aisle.

Art, history and a heavenly presence prevail. It is here, within the walls of Trinity. Visually. And in spirit.

BONUS PHOTOS:

The risen Lord centers the trio of stained glass windows above the altar.

The risen Lord centers the trio of stained glass windows above the altar.

A basket holds church bulletins and other worship essentials.

A basket holds church bulletins and other worship essentials.

Church mail slots.

Church mail slots.

A final message for worshipers is posted on a window next to an exterior front door.

A final message for worshipers is posted on a window next to an exterior front door.

FYI: Please check back next week for more posts in my “from Wanamingo” series.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Valentine’s Day love at Sunday School February 14, 2016

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SS Valentine's Day, 48 stack of valentines

 

HOW WAS YOUR Valentine’s Day?

Except for the hour I spent photographing Sunday School students and their families, mine would have been just another Sunday. Early to church, followed by bible study. Then brunch at home prepared by my husband.

But because I’ve recently become the go-to person to document happenings at my church, Trinity Lutheran, I pulled photography duty this morning. And I’m fine with that because I enjoy photography. Now if I was asked to give a minute-man speech (which I’ve been asked to do) or count money or serve on a board (which I’ve been asked to do), I wouldn’t do it. My talents and interests don’t lie in those areas.

Ask me to bring my camera, however, and I will likely be there.

In the one hour I covered the Sunday School’s Valentine’s Day event, I shot some 200 photos.  But, because these images are for church use, I can only share a few generic photos with you.

 

SS Valentine's Day, 16 close-up hands making valentine

 

I can tell you, though, what I witnessed. And that was kids and parents, and, yes, even some grandparents, celebrating the gift of love. Kids made valentines, stacked candy hearts and unwrapped Hershey’s kisses with mittened hands. But the most memorable moment came when parents applied sticker dots to their children’s faces—each dot representing a quality they love about their children. I heard words like beautiful, smart, kind, my first-born…

 

SS Valentine's Day, 138 I love God because dots

 

After those professions of love, the kids stuck the dots to portraits of Jesus with the children, expressing their love for Jesus.

 

Valentine's Day Trinity SS 039 - Copy

 

I left feeling like I’d gotten the perfect Valentine’s Day gift—a reminder that I am—we are—loved.

TELL ME, what made your Valentine’s Day special/memorable?

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Celebrating God’s Creation at Trinity Lutheran in Faribault February 8, 2016

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Worship opened with the hymn, "All Creatures of Our God and King," shown on the big screen next to a mountain crafted for the 2015 Mt. Everest themed Vacation Bible School.

Worship opened with the hymn, “All Creatures of Our God and King,” shown on the big screen next to a mountain crafted for the 2015 Mt. Everest themed Vacation Bible School.

GOD’S CREATION FOCUSED every aspect of worship at my church, Trinity Lutheran in Faribault, this weekend.

Quilted snowflake art by Kevin Kreger, who coordinated the Creation themed art display,

A snippet of snowflake art quilted by Kevin Kreger, who coordinated the Creation themed worship service.

The theme seemed ideally suited for a February weekend when a blizzard was forecast for portions of the state.

A painting of sunflowers jolted color

A sunflower painting jolts color into an art display.

Come this time of year, Minnesotans are beginning to long for green grass, sunshine and warmth.

The Rev. Paul Rieger uses a book to showcase Creation during the children's object lesson.

The Rev. Paul Rieger uses a book to showcase Creation during the children’s object lesson.

Singing about, hearing about and viewing depictions of God’s creation lifted my spirits. The words of my favorite hymn, Beautiful Savior; a scripture reading from Genesis; and a display of artwork brought in by worshipers highlighted Creation.

Viewing the art after the 8 a.m. worship service.

Viewing the art after the 8 a.m. worship service.

God's creation of fish depicted in this crocheted art piece.

God’s creation of fish depicted in this crocheted art piece.

Lots of Creation art in many mediums.

Lots of Creation art in many mediums.

After worship—after the singing and preaching and listening—congregants perused art displayed within the sanctuary. Creation worked into fabric and photos, yarn and paintings, wood and paper, and more. So much talent crafted by the hands God created.

Crosses, because they are made of materials from the natural world, were interspersed with the other art.

Crosses, because they are made of materials from the natural world, were interspersed with the other art.

And then there was the-feet-in-the-hammock photo that flashed onto the big screen during the pastor’s sermon. He used the image to illustrate that “God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.”

A simple bowl of fruit rests as a work of art and and example of God's Creation.

A simple bowl of fruit rests as a work of art and and example of God’s Creation.

Slight laughter rippled across the pews of the Lutheran church. Yet, the point was made. God rested. And so should we. But do we?

BONUS PHOTOS:

More artistic examples of God's Creation.

More artistic examples of God’s Creation.

Autumn leaves in fabric...more of God's Creation.

Looking up at autumn leaves in fabric…more of God’s Creation.

An overview of the major portion of the art display, including my photo on the big screen.

An overview of the major portion of the art display, including my photos on the big screen.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Minnesota Faces: A VBS student August 7, 2015

Portrait #34: Kaleb, age 5 ½

 

Portrait 34, VBS student Kaleb

 

All week I’ve photographed sweet faces like Kaleb’s. Through my Canon viewfinder, I’ve seen the smiles, the excitement, the genuine joy expressed by some 50 students attending Vacation Bible School at my church, Trinity Lutheran in Faribault.

It’s been a good week. Monday – Thursday I’ve volunteered two hours each evening to capture moments. One thousand images imprinted on my CF card. Hours of work the next morning sorting through and editing photos.

But what a blessing to have done this, to have relived my own wonderful experience with VBS (although mine was quite different), to witness the exuberance and energy of youth, to work side-by-side with other adults, to share our joy in Christ.

I look at the sweet face of Kaleb and hope this 5 ½-year-old will always remember fragments of his week at VBS—arts and crafts, chasing bubbles on the church grounds, raising his arms in praise, munching a warm-from-the-oven chocolate chip cookie…

It’s been a good week with a great group of VBS kids.

#

Minnesota Faces is featured every Friday on Minnesota Prairie Roots.

© Copyright 2105 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

He is risen April 5, 2015

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"I am the resurrection and the life." A stained glass window in the Trinity Lutheran Church sanctuary, Faribault, Minnesota.

“I am the resurrection and the life.” A stained glass window in the Trinity Lutheran Church sanctuary, Faribault, Minnesota. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

You are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here.– Mark 16: 6

Wishing you, my dear readers, a most joyous and blessed Easter!

Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

A close-up Journey to the Cross March 29, 2015

Palm branches.

Palm branches.

PALM BRANCHES AND HOSANNAS. For the Christian church, both mark Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week.

Small groups participated in 45-minute tours on "Journey to the Cross."

Small groups participated in 45-minute tours on “Journey to the Cross.”

This morning at the church I attend, Trinity Lutheran in Faribault, Holy Week also began with a “Journey to the Cross” event. I was blessed to be a volunteer in this journey which led attendees through Christ’s final days to his glorious resurrection on Easter.

Participating kids (and some adults) carried passports. At nearly every station, stickers were distributed to place in the passports.

Participating kids (and some adults) carried passports. At nearly every station, stickers were distributed to place in the passports.

With passports in hand, kids and adults traveled from station to station, listening to performers role-play the parts of towns’ people, a temple worker, soldiers, an angel and others.

Participants had their hands washed by volunteers just as Christ washed his disciples' feet .

Participants had their hands washed by volunteers, following the example of Christ washing his disciples’ feet.

But this was about much more than sharing biblical history. This was about hands-on activities that reinforced the spoken word. This was about engaging the senses and experiencing Holy Week.

Matzo, unleavened bread from Jerusalem, was served as reprsentative of food from Jesus' time period.

Matzo, unleavened bread from Jerusalem, was served as representative of food from Jesus’ time period.

And therein lies the strength of “Journey to the Cross.” Participants received palm branches, felt the weight of the 30 silver coins Judas received for betraying Jesus, heard the crack of the whip against Jesus’ back, pounded nails into wood, tasted vinegar like that offered to Christ suffering on the cross, raised their voices in “He is risen!” at the vacant tomb and more.

A volunteer crafted this crow of thorns similar to the one Christ wore on the cross.

A volunteer crafted this crown of thorns similar to the one Christ wore on the cross. Tour participants saw it close up and could touch the crown.

I left with a deeper connection and understanding of what Christ endured. I could hear, see, feel, taste and smell the events of that final week. It was a memorable morning and the perfect contemplative beginning to Holy Week.

THE JOURNEY IN MORE PHOTOS:

Stop #1, Jerusalem on Palm Sunday:

Volunteer Theresa speaks to participants about Jesus' ride into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.

Volunteer Theresa speaks to participants about Jesus’ ride into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.

Stop #2, Judas betrays Jesus for 30 pieces of silver:

Randy, role-playing a temple worker.

Randy, role-playing a temple worker, tells how Judas betrayed Jesus.

Making coin rubbings in passports to remember how Judas betrayed Jesus with 30 pieces of silver.

Making coin rubbings in passports to remember how Judas betrayed Jesus with 30 pieces of silver.

Stop #3, Before the Passover meal on the Thursday of Holy Week, Jesus washed his disciples’ feet:

Actress Diane talks about Jesus gathering with his disciples and washing their feet.

Actress Diane talks about Jesus gathering with his disciples and washing their feet.

Rather than washing feet, hands were washed.

Rather than washing feet, hands were washed.

Stickers were handed out for placement in the passport after hands were washed.

Stickers were distributed for placement in the passport after the hand washing.

Stop #4, Remembering the Passover meal, Jesus’ last meal with his disciples:

Sings marked each station.

Signs marked each station.

Participants could sample various foods such as horseradish, matzo, grape juice and more.

Participants could sample various foods such as horseradish, matzo, grape juice and more.

Grape juice ready to be served.

Grape juice ready to be served.

Stop #5, Jesus prays in the Garden of Gethsemane:

A sign marks the station focusing on prayer.

A sign marks the station focusing on prayer.

Stop #6, Jesus was whipped, beaten and teased:

Volunteer Leann talks about the torture Jesus suffered even prior to his crucifixion.

Volunteer Leann talks about the torture Jesus suffered even prior to his crucifixion.

Wayne played perhaps the most memorable role, that of a soldier whipping Jesus.

Wayne played perhaps the most memorable role, that of a soldier whipping Jesus.

The whip cracked across the floor, toward the mannequin representing Jesus.

The whip cracks across the mannequin representing Jesus.

Stop #7, Christ is crucified on the cross:

The stage was set with a cross, hammer and nails. Participants pounded nails into wood. Christ was nailed to the cross.

The stage was set with a cross, hammer and nails. Participants pounded nails into wood to remember how Christ was nailed to the cross.

This artwork and nails were placed at the base of the cross.

This artwork and nails were placed at the base of the cross.

Stop #8: As Jesus died on the cross, he said he was thirsty. He was given vinegar to drink.  (I don’t have any photos from this station.) Participants could taste vinegar.

A photo of Christ's face from a stained glass window in my church, Trinity Lutheran, Faribault.

A photo of Christ’s face from a stained glass window in Trinity Lutheran, Faribault. This depicts Him after His resurrection.

Stop #9: Jesus’ tomb is found empty on Easter. (I don’t have any photos from this station.) Those on the tour joined the angel and the woman at the gravesite in celebrating Jesus resurrection with these words: He is risen!

Stop #10, The final check-in station allowed participants to talk and write about their experiences:

What a young girl, Jennifer, wrote.

What a young girl, Jennifer, wrote.

FYI: “Journey to the Cross” is available for purchase through Concordia Publishing House. Click here for more information.

It’s described as “an outreach and educational event for your congregation and community. Through activities based on Scripture, participants experience the joy of Palm Sunday, the disappointment of Judas’ betrayal, the devastation of the crucifixion, the jubilation of the resurrection, and so much more. This family program invites children and adults to walk the path that Jesus walked.”

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Succinct Sunday sermon June 1, 2014

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Edited photo shot while driving by Trinity Lutheran Church sign, Arkdale, Wisconsin.

Edited photo shot while driving by Trinity Lutheran Church sign, Arkdale, Wisconsin.

Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Love one another: Amber & Marc’s wedding day September 30, 2013

Trinity Lutheran Church, decorated with ferns from my friend, Mike, and with hydrangea pew flowers created by my floral designer sister. Trinity is our family's church, where the bride was baptized and confirmed and attended Christian Day School.

Trinity Lutheran Church, decorated with ferns from my friend, Mike, and with hydrangea pew flowers by my floral designer sister, Lanae Feser of Waseca Floral. Trinity is our family’s church, where the bride was baptized and confirmed and attended Faribault Lutheran School.

Dear friends, since God so loves us, we also ought to love one another.—John 4:11

LOVE. GOD’S LOVE. The young couple’s love for one another. Love brought family and friends together at 4 p.m. Sunday, September 22, at Trinity Lutheran Church in Faribault, Minnesota, to witness the marriage of my daughter, Amber, and her now husband, Marc.

I love that they chose Sunday as their wedding day, although I know not all invited guests were pleased.

Amber and Marc. Photo by Minneapolis based Rochelle Louise Photography.

Amber and Marc. Photo by and courtesy of Minneapolis based Rochelle Louise Photography.

But Sunday, a day of rest, a day set aside for the Lord, seemed the perfect day for this couple to unite in marriage. Their faith has been an important part of their relationship from the beginning and will center their lives together.

John 4:11 was among their chosen Scripture readings.

Mr. and Mrs. Schmidt are absolutely, incredibly, in love. Photo by Rochelle Louise Photography.

Mr. and Mrs. Schmidt are absolutely, incredibly, in love. Photo by and courtesy of Rochelle Louise Photography.

They also chose, rather than to light a unity candle or pour sand from two containers into one, to share Communion. Just the two of them. The pastor noted in his message, how he appreciated this decision, how years ago Communion was a part of most Lutheran wedding services.

When the young couple partook of The Lord’s Supper together for the first time as husband and wife, tears edged into my eyes, just as they had earlier when my husband walked his daughter down the aisle. It was an emotional moment.

And even though the mother-of-the-groom vowed that she would not cry—and she didn’t—I would not, could not, make that promise. For I knew I would never keep it.

BEFORE THE WEDDING SNAPSHOTS:

The bride and her attendants with the stunning bouquets created by my floral designer sister, Lanae Feser of Waseca Floral. Photo by and courtesy of Rochelle Louise Photography.

The bride and her attendants with the stunning bouquets created by my floral designer sister, Lanae Feser of Waseca Floral. Photo by and courtesy of Rochelle Louise Photography.

The bridal party awaits the beginning of their photo shoot.

The bridal party awaits the beginning of their photo shoot. The second-hand bridal gown was purchased at Andrea’s Vintage Bridal in Minneapolis. The bridesmaids’ dresses were custom made by dressmakers in Hong Kong (I think) and purchased through etsey.

When my daughter tried on this dress, we all knew, just knew, it was the one for her. She had it taken in and a sash added with no other alterations made.

When my daughter tried on this beaded replica vintage dress, we all knew, just knew, it was the one for her. She had it taken in and a sash added with no other alterations.

Sister of the bride and maid of honor, Miranda.

Sister of the bride and maid of honor, Miranda.

A single hydrangea adorned each pew.

A single hydrangea adorned every other pew.

The wedding party heads outside for photos. No, I did not follow out of respect for the professional photographer.

The wedding party heads outside for photos. No, I did not follow out of respect for the professional photographers and at the bridal couple’s request. It’s best to stay out of the way. Because of that, dear readers, I took no formal wedding couple/group shots.

The flowers, oh, the flowers. My beyond talented sister, Lanae of Waseca Floral, created the bouquets.

The flowers, oh, the flowers. My beyond talented sister, Lanae of Waseca Floral, created the bouquets.

FYI: Please click here to check out the work of Minneapolis based Rochelle Louise Photography. This husband-wife team set a serene mood for the photo sessions with their relaxed and confident attitudes. I cannot wait to see the remaining results of their nine hours covering Amber and Marc’s wedding. From this first glimpse of their work in three of the photos so credited above, I am beyond impressed. Thank you, Rochelle and Tom. When you click onto Rochelle’s website, also click onto her blog to view her take on Amber and Marc’s wedding and some of her favorite photos.

Click here to reach Waseca Floral, where my sister, Lanae Feser, works as head designer.

To learn more about Andrea’s Vintage Bridal in Minneapolis, click here.

To view previous “My daughter’s wedding” posts, click here and then here and also here.

Two more wedding posts will be forthcoming.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Photos by Rochelle Louise Photography are copyrighted and published here with permission.

 

Before the wedding, in black & white September 27, 2013

ARRIVING AT TRINITY LUTHERAN CHURCH in Faribault prior to the appointed family photo time at my daughter’s wedding on Sunday, September 22, I managed to sneak in a few photos without intruding. I hope.

Randy and I had come a bit earlier than we were supposed to be there. But I figured the parents could bend the rules ever so slightly as long as I stayed inside the church and did not follow the wedding party outdoors for the professional photo shoot.

Here are a few of my favorite pre-ceremony images, converted to black and white:

My daughter Amber, the bride.

My daughter Amber, the bride.

The bride lifts up her dress as she walks through the narthex.

The bride lifts her dress as she walks through the narthex.

Details inside the women's dressing/prep room.

Details inside the women’s dressing/prep room.

Miranda, the maid of honor, poses for a snapshot in the women's dressing room.

Miranda, the maid of honor, poses for a snapshot in the women’s dressing room.

Barb, the pianist, practices.

Barb, the pianist, practices.

Tim, an usher, waits.

Tim, an usher, waits.

And back in the changing room, the bride uses her smart phone.

And back in the changing room, the bride uses her smart phone.

On Monday I’ll bring you more images shot before the service, this time in color, including long-awaited (at least I think you’re waiting) photos of the bridal gown.

FYI: Click here and here to see the first two posts in this “My daughter’s wedding” series.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Shop at this gym full of treasures July 25, 2013

GOOD MORNING. It’s 6 a.m. And, if you’re an avid garage saler and have the morning free, you likely already are preparing your route of must-hit sales.

A shot taken Tuesday evening with more items to be set out on Wednesday.

An overview shot taken Tuesday evening in the Trinity gym with more items to be set out on Wednesday.

In Faribault, add the Cannon Valley Lutheran High School sale to your list. Doors to the sale site, the gym at Trinity Lutheran Church, 530 Fourth Street Northwest (Minnesota Highway 60 across from McDonalds) open at 8 a.m. and close at 6 p.m. Thursday, July 25, and Friday, July 26. Saturday, July 27, hours are 8 a.m. – 11 a.m.

Tuesday I got a sneak peek at this gym full of treasures. Yes, I adhere to the “One man’s (or woman’s) junk is another man’s (or woman’s) treasure.”

Frames and mirrors and merchandise reflected.

Frames and mirrors and merchandise reflected.

Except for clothing, of which there is none at this sale, you will find the usual assortment of merchandise ranging from household décor to kitchenware, books, furniture, toys, sporting equipment, some collectibles and more.

Sweet vintage thermoses.

Sweet vintage thermoses.

A bit overwhelmed by the volume of offerings, I methodically worked my way through the gym, photographing items I found of particular interest. Note that I am drawn to vintage more than anything.

A kitschy vintage clock for the cat lover.

A kitschy vintage clock for the cat lover.

I collect vintage drinking glasses and tablecloths, but did not uncover any during my one-hour walk-through. That’s just as well. I already have more than I need.

A beautiful Pyrex casserole for the collector.

A beautiful Pyrex casserole for the collector.

A large bowl for the Pyrex collector.

A large bowl for the Pyrex collector.

And two more beautiful Pyrex bowls.

And two more beautiful Pyrex bowls.

I suggested to one of the organizers that the three Pyrex bowls and casserole I spotted ought to be marked at collector prices. “There will be collectors here,” I advised her.

"Puppy Love" and "Winter Solitude" by Rhody Yule, appraised and priced at $395 and $375.

“Puppy Love” and “Winter Solitude” by Rhody Yule, appraised and priced at $395 and $375.

If you’re an art collector, you will want to examine four paintings by my friend, Rhody Yule, a Faribault sign painter and prolific artist whose work was featured in a 2011 gallery exhibit at the Paradise Center for the Arts six months before his death at age 92. He was a remarkable man of deep faith and I was blessed to be gifted with one of his religious themed paintings. Now you, too, can own a piece of Rhody’s art.

Some wonderful wooden puzzles, newer and older.

Some wonderful wooden puzzles, newer and older.

If I had young kids or grandkids, I would have scooped up lots of books and toys, most in excellent condition. I did nab a homespun poetry book, The Old Hometown, by Faribault resident Marlene Hyatt Meehl, now deceased. I also found two blackboards to use at my daughter’s wedding reception.

Another view of that gym full of merchandise.

Another view of that gym full of merchandise, to which more has been added since I took this photo.

I expect you will find something you “need.” How could you not in a gymnasium packed with treasures?

MORE FINDS:

There are plenty of hard-sided suitcases for sale and a few soft-sided also.

There are plenty of hard-sided suitcases for sale and a few soft-sided also.

I have not seen curlers like this in 40 years, just like my mom used and occasionally poked into my head. The plastic pins for securing the rollers are included.

I have not seen curlers like this in 40 years, just like my mom used and occasionally poked into my head. The plastic pins for securing the rollers are included.

This vintage timer was made in one of my favorite Wisconsin towns, Two Rivers, along Lake Michigan.

This vintage timer was made in one of my favorite Wisconsin towns, Two Rivers, along Lake Michigan. The box and the literature inside are as vintage cool as the timer.

 A peek at some of the furniture.

A peek at some of the furniture.

Among the abundance of Christmas decor, I spotted these precious pieces.

Among the abundance of Christmas decor, I spotted these precious Nativity pieces.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling