Sunday, March 29, 2015

Palm Sunday Crafts

I don't consider myself particularly creative, so how I found myself volunteering to teach the crafts for our Children's program called Journey I don't really know.  In my defense, I thought I was going to be handed all these cute little craft kits that I would just be showing to the kids and helping them put together each week. I learned really quickly that I was on my own.  So here I am two years later still as uncreative as ever.  However, I also discovered that Pinterest was to become my new best friend and I thank God every week for all those wonderfully creative people who are willing to share their creativity with me. The kids all think I am brilliant (if they only knew), and I have had a lot of fun along the way.

So, this last week the kids were learning about the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem.  Naturally, that means palm branches and while the older kids got to learn how to make palm crosses (after I took a crash course from youtube, of course), I needed something a little more "kid friendly" for the little ones.  I came across this clever idea, palm branches made from "palms".


All we needed for our project was colored paper, paint stirring sticks and some glue.  So, after spending a late afternoon after work die cutting 450 little green hands, I was ready to go.

And here was our finished project all ready to take home.  Didn't they turn out cute? The kids loved them.

May this Palm Sunday be a blessed beginning to a blessed and Holy Week.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

A Journey by Train, Part 2

 Is has been several weeks now since we returned from our journey across the country by train.  How different everything looks from the windows of a train compared to our usual summer road trips.  Here we have seen the back side of most of the towns and farms we have passed through and it has been very interesting to see the countryside through a different lens.

It was late in the day when we boarded the train for our return journey home.  The sun was already setting and so we only had time to get ourselves settled in, eat dinner and say goodby to the frigid farmlands of Wisconsin and Minnesota before curling up to sleep for the night.

We woke up in the morning to find ourselves in North Dakota and we looked out with interest, as it had been night time when we traveled through here before.  It didn't take too long to discover that there really isn't all that much to see in North Dakota, just miles and miles (and hours and hours) of ranch land interspersed with small towns and more of the cold snowy landscape.



A few times we were able to step off the train to stretch our legs for a few minutes in a small town station.

Occasionally we would have to share the tracks with a passing freight train .

As the day went on,we found ourselves gazing out at the signs of the big oil boom that is taking place in North Dakota. This is the place where our country hopes to achieve "Energy Independence" and we looked out at the evidence all along the way. There were miles of new tanker cars lined up along the tracks and cows grazing with oil pumps.  We even saw an oil refinery.  The boom has grown so quickly there isn't enough housing, as we could see by the clusters of RVs all parked together in small communities.


 But for the most part this land remains pretty empty and as we headed into Montana, the land settled back into a place of quiet open sky and grazing cattle.

So this is where our second day ended.  Soon darkness would fall again again and we would find ourselves settled in to sleep away the night as we traveled through the Rocky Mountains (photos in an earlier blog) and back home to the northwest, leaving the cold and snow behind.  We arrive home early in the morning to the gentle warmth of an early spring, ready to face the new day.  Adieu and may God's blessings fall on you as you travel your own life's journeys.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Early Morning

 The entire weekend we were kept inside by pouring rain and dark gray cloudy skies.  But yesterday morning when I looked out, this sight made me run for my camera.  I don't know that I really captured the beauty of this moment with the early sun peeking out between the clouds and the mist rising up from the trees to obscure the mountains in the background.  You can see the light reflecting down on part of the lake between the trees making the water look golden. 

The yellow flowers on this tree tell me the earth is waking up and Spring is arriving.

I love looking out over these mountains  They remind me every day that God is on His throne and I have nothing to fear for He is always with me.

Friday, March 13, 2015

A Journey by Train

There is something about riding a train that seems to capture the imagination, listening to the sound of the wheels clacking over the rails, the gentle rhythm of the rocking cars, and hearing the horn calling its warning as it passes through the countryside. So when it was time to make another journey back to Wisconsin we decided to take a train rather than fly.  How much less stressful it was, no rush to drive down to the airport which is more than an hour away, no worries of finding a place to leave the car and getting into the terminal more than two hours ahead to check in and go through all the hoops necessary to board the plane, no worry about late flights and missed connections.

The train station is just a few miles from our home so we were able to have a leisurely day before boarding at the end of the day.


Our sleeping room was small, just two seats that fold down into a bed and a top bunk that folded down at night but it was private and quiet.  All we had to do for the next two days was relax, go to meals, read and look out the window and reflect.  It was perfect. And when we wanted a change we could go to the observation car and enjoy a panoramic view of the country passing by.

It might be springtime at home but much of the countryside was encased in frozen ice and snow.  After an early breakfast and morning coffee we enjoyed the beautiful scenery of the Glacier National Park located in the Rocky Mountains of Montana.

Eventually we left the mountains behind and headed across the plains, gazing at the farms as they passed by our window.  This is wheat country and there were large grain elevators at every train stop.  The land look cold and a bit forbidding.  Even the trees looked so barren it was hard to think that in a few  more weeks they will begin to return to life after the long winter's rest.

Our second day found us arriving in at the St. Paul train station in Minnesota.  It was so cold the Mighty Mississippi was frozen over.  Brrr!!!!  They told us it was -40 degrees with the wind chill!

Coming into St. Paul, MN

A view of St. Paul from the train station

After a short break in St. Paul it was time to continue on our way into Wisconsin.  We traveled along the frozen Mississippi. into the state of Wisconsin.

Along the Mississippi

The town of La Crosse, WI

Near the Wisconsin Dells

After two days and nights on the train we arrived at our destination, Milwaukee, WI.  We felt gratefully refreshed and ready to face our final goodbys which were waiting for us at the end of this journey.  This is where we will leave you.  There is more to share but that will wait for another day and so we bid you, Adieu.