Goodbye North Dakota

Oh, North Dakota. How I will miss you.  Yes, the time has come to move back to Texas. You have defined and refined and changed me forever. This adventure with you has enriched my life so much that I will probably forever be driving my southern friends crazy with, "when we were in North Dakota" stories.

We came for work in the boom towns of your Bakken Oil Fields. We got here in June when the crops were lush and green, and some of the roads getting here were closed because of the record breaking Mouse River Flood where 12,000 of your neighbors were washed out of their homes. Oil workers were living in tents in the parks and sleeping in Walmart parking lots. When we found housing for rent, it was crazy expensive.  Things have leveled out a little now. Your town now feels like my town. Our little town of 1250 (2010 Census Count) has new houses, apartments, and hotels for all us new people in town to lay our heads. Because of low oil prices, budgets are cut and some workers (like us) are going home - it they have one elsewhere.

We were here for your first man camps, your first traffic light, and your rail terminal. We saw in your little peaceful valley town, a new grocery store, a new swimming pool, a new convenience store, and new pastors. We celebrated your Fire Department's centennial - "100 years and still making house calls", they said. 

I am sad that we (the oil industry) have destroyed your rolling prairies. However your canola fields of brightest yellow, the purple flax blooms, wheat harvest, hay fields, sunflowers, and corn rows have amazed us. You have a short growing season and long days. In July your sun rises at five and is not completely gone until eleven. Your Fourth of July fireworks celebration get started at my bedtime!

You native North Dakota sons and daughters are so close to your roots - as in knowing that your grandparents were Scandinavian immigrants. I have loved the stories of your grandparents coming over on boats to settle on free land and learn a new language when they got here. Your folks homesteaded land, built houses, built churches, and grew families. Some of their homes are still around. Yes, I have noticed how you proudly hang on to the family farms. You farm their land, live on their land, and love their land.  I've wondered away lots of traveling hours thinking about how life must have been in those tiny homes, especially in winter.

Oh, yes. winter. Your first snowfall (usually October) is exciting and beautiful and breath taking. Then your last one seems like it will never come. You taught us to shovel the white fluff, warm the cars, walk like a penguin, and bundle up.You have taught me more than I ever wanted to know about coats, and gloves, and scarves. You have shown me how to be stylish and warm at the same time, but all I really ever wanted was a nice warm hoodie - nine months out of the year. You don't let the cold and snow stop you - not your work, not your church meetings, and certainly not school. I  learned that it doesn't really matter how far below zero your temperature is - it's just cold. You are amazing, tough, resilent people (even those of you who go south for the winter!)

When your spring thaw finally comes in mid-May, so do your robins and your flowers and your road construction. You say there are really only two seasons - winter and road construction. I believe it.  After a long hard winter - yards and flowers explode in beauty. I have certainly enjoyed the fruits of former owner's labor in my yard. You have shown me how to fully enjoy those few months of warm weather.

Then there's your food - lefse, lutefisk, knoephla, borscht, meatballs, and slush burgers. Some I love. Some I like. And some I leave untouched. You have inspired me and stretched me. Thank you for your recipes and your cooking classes!

Some report I read has said that you have more churches per capita than any other state. I don't know if that is accurate since the population explosion, but you have a lot of beautiful, historic churches in North Dakota. You in the Lutheran church on the next block have welcomed and loved me since my first Sunday. From you, I have learned the apostles' creed, about Ladies Circle Group,and hot dish dinners. . You precious ladies I've been in Bible studies and circle groups with gave me a wonderful going away bash - and you brought your husbands along. You Baptist and Assembly of God girls have loved me more than I deserved, too.  You've welcomed me into your Bible studies, even when I talked too much. Your community church services inspire me to believe that we are not all that much different. And thank you for tolerating me when I tried to sing in the church choir

More than anything you have taught me "North Dakota Nice". That's when you say things like, "Oh but we were so glad to have you in our choir", even though the girl can't carry a tune in a milk bucket - bless her southern heart. I'm sure you would never even think such a thought. You stop your car a block away when I am crossing the street. You have brought me homemade bread, juneberry jelly, chokecherry jam, pickled beets, and have taught me how to harvest rhubarb for pies. You gave us your extra snow blower and loaned me your sewing machine pedal when mine broke and you hardly knew me. You closed our garage door when we left it open, you raked the sticks out of the yard, you hauled off our broken tree limbs, and you invited us over for holiday meals.

My man and I will love you forever, and our time together will always be etched in our memories.

The LORD bless you and keep you.
The LORD make His face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
the LORD turn His face toward you
and give you peace.
(Numbers 6:24-26)


Standing in the Promises

The big open sky prairie ranch land of Montana was our camping spot for a week.
 We were told that the complaint box was at the top of "that hill over there"
and that complaints were diligently checked annually.

 Every evening, complainers hiked to the top of the hill and stayed awhile to enjoy the view.

Evenings also brought rainstorms, lighting shows, amazing sunsets

 and beautiful rainbows.


 The rainbows brought out the campers and the cameras.
 Isn't it amazing how we never tire of rainbows? 
Rainbows  bring Noah (who found favor with God) to mind 
and how he must have felt seeing the first rainbow. 
That rainbow was God's promise to Noah and all of us that He (God)
 would never again destroy the earth with water.
And did you know that just about every culture in the world has a flood story?

2 Corinthians 1:20 says that All God's promises are YES and AMEN.
 (My paraphrase).
That means they are true.
 True for you and true for me.

Rainbows have seven colors - red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet, 
(And here's a little free nerdiness: the number seven is used 860 times in the Bible and always refers to completeness). 
 Gods promises are complete - yes and amen. 
Here's another little fact - the rainbow flag we've been seeing flying around
in the news lately only has six colors.
 Six in the Bible symbolizes man, human weakness, the enemy's evils, and sin. 
 Just sayin'.

A man of great faith, my hometown Texas pastor has said,
 "If God gives you a promise, 
believe it, stand on it, and act as if it has already happened." 
If we stand on something - we remain motionless and steady on our feet. 

Believe it. 
Stand on it.
 Act as if it has already happened. 

"But God has never given ME a promise.", you say.
I beg to differ my friend.
You can not say that God has never given you a promise, 
because he has given you 3,573 promises in His Word. 
Three thousand, five hundred, seventy-three.

You might need to go on a Bible treasure hunt to find them, 
 but they are there and they are for you.

Believe them. 
Stand firm on them.
 Act as if they have already happened.

One afternoon on the ranch, 
we could see the end of the rainbow
and I'm here to report that there was no pot of gold anywhere in sight. 
But the end was just right over there.
It was something I had never seen before.
 Could Noah see the end of his rainbow?
Did he wish for a camera?

When I changed my view point just a little, 
the rainbow appeared to end at the complaint box.

Complainers take note:
"... no matter how many promises God has made, they are 'yes' in Christ. 
And so through him, the 'Amen' is spoken by us
to the glory of God." 
2 Corinthians 1:20
New International Version

These folks at the complaint box, look like they are standing in the rainbow.
God's promises are yes in Christ.
The Greek word used in this scripture for "in" carries a meaning
 of a fixed position and rest.


If God gives you a promise,
Believe it.
Stand on it.
Rest in it.
Act as if it has already happened.

One more little fact gleaned from the Internet is that 
a person standing IN a rainbow cannot see it.
It is only visible to the people on the outside looking in.

Sometimes when we are hanging on to God's promises for dear life,
we can't see that we are right smack dab in the middle of his promise, 
But to everyone else, we may appear to be 
restfully, peacefully, standing firm
in His promises.

God has given you a promise.

Believe it.
Stand on it.
Rest in it.
Act as if it has already happened.

And stop complaining.

"Whatever God has promised gets stamped with the yes of Jesus. 
In him, this is what we preach and pray,
the great Amen,
God's yes, and our yes together,
gloriously evident."
2 Corinthians 1:20
The Message


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