Category Archives: Music!

Don’t Let the Light Go Out

On Saturday, they found Jacob.

If you live in Minnesota, or if you lived in Minnesota during the past 27 years, you know what I’m talking about. Jacob Wetterling was eleven years old in 1989, when he, his brother, and a friend were biking down a country road. A masked man with a gun stopped them and took Jacob. Basically the nightmare scenario for any parent or caregiver of a child.

Jacob’s family never gave up. They never stopped searching; never stopped hoping. Every year on October 22nd, the day Jacob was taken, the Wetterlings encouraged people to leave their porch lights on. The light was a symbol of solidarity and hope. It lit the way home for Jacob and for other lost and missing children. The work of the Wetterlings and the foundation they started was not only for Jacob, but for all children. Because of the Wetterlings, sex offender registeries exist. Because of the Wetterlings, most missing children do find their way home.  Continue reading

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Filed under Lord in Your Mercy, Music!

Back to School Joy

“I’m tired of playing all day. I want to learn things again.”

That’s my Zoe, who went off to second grade with a big grin on Tuesday:

back to bus.jpg

She couldn’t tell me her favorite part of the first day because “everything was so awesome.” That’s my Zoe, too: when she’s in, she’s all in. She has more “best day[s] ever” than anyone I know. Her joy and enthusiasm for life and learning fill me with joy, too.

I give thanks for Zoe’s joy and excitement, and for the wonderful teachers, bus drivers, paraprofessionals, cafeteria workers, and others who nurture and guide her and her classmates each day.

Speaking of back to school joy: Continue reading

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Filed under Music!, Thankful Hearts

Another Op’nin’, Another Show


Chorus girls, 192- / Sam Hood

These are not our costumes, but we do have some fabulous headgear.


Tonight’s the night! If you are in the Saint James area, come on over the the Saint James High School Little Theater for Mary Poppins. The show starts at 7 PM and you can buy your tickets at the door or by calling 507/375-4517. $10 for adults; $5 for children 12 and under; tonight, tomorrow, and Saturday. Don’t miss it!

Whether you’re able to make it this weekend or not, please do enjoy this video of the opening of Kiss Me Kate. It depicts our community theater rehearsal process perfectly. (Pro Tip: Of course it doesn’t. Enjoy it anyway.) Continue reading


Filed under Movies and TV, Music!

Three Things That Are Better When You Don’t Know All the Words

“I’ve been to church in Norwegian!” my friend S reported. (We were having one of those wonderful conversations where this was not even a non sequitur.)

“I could only understand about 3/4 of the sermon. Which is, for this agnostic, liberal type, a relief.” (Pro Tip: She then assured me that if it were my sermon, she would hang on every word. Which is what everyone else does on Sunday mornings, I am sure.)

I laughed, but I knew what she meant. Some things are better when you can’t understand all the words. For example:

1. Keanu Reeves. Remember that guy? When I was in college, I watched Point Break with my host family in Mexico. They had such confidence in my Spanish ability that they put on the dubbed version. Fortuitously, this meant that we did not have to listen to Keanu’s actual voice. Once the limitation of his voice and his acting ability are out of the way–hey, it turns out the reason Keanu was a movie star is because he’s pretty cute. Continue reading

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Filed under Marvelous Miscellany, Movies and TV, Music!

Lutheran Lullaby

pregnant maggie

2013: Mama and Zoe (and Leo), six weeks after his in utero Beautiful Savior dance party.

Three years ago, I was at a worship service with about 600 other Lutherans.

It was the closing worship service of our Southwestern Minnesota Synod assembly. (Pro Tip: Once a year, people from all the ELCA churches in a given area get together to learn, worship, and do the business of being church together.)

I was seven months pregnant with Leo. And as we sang Beautiful Savior, that baby danced along with great in utero joy. (Pro Tip: I mean, I assume.) Surrounded by the heavenly sound of all those Lutherans singing in harmony, swaying to the music that my baby was dancing to–it was one of those moments. Lovely, and holy, and sweet. Continue reading


Filed under Ministry Matters, Music!, Your Moment of Leo

Celebrating Big and Small

There’s something wonderful about Small.

In my first call, one Sunday there were only about fifteen or twenty of us there for worship. After worship we all crammed around one round table for coffee and treats. We laughed as we took a picture. We celebrated Small.

There’s also something wonderful about Big.

Yesterday, we had a big turnout at church. Run out of bulletins Big. Slip into the sacristy (Pro Tip: that’s a churchy word for Where We Keep and Set Up the Candles and Communion Ware and Stuff) for more communion wine Big. Continue reading


Filed under Ministry Matters, Music!, Thankful Hearts

Music Monday: Delayed Reaction

I am not usually an early adopter–of technology, of fashion, of music, of . . . well, you get the idea.

Image from page 224 of "The Bell System technical journal" (1922)

But when I finally do check out a new (to me) band or TV show or style of yogurt, I am all in.

It was probably four years ago that several of my friends mentioned this Minnesota band called Cloud Cult. But I didn’t listen.

It was probably three years ago that I saw a newspaper article about the same band. I read it, and was intrigued, but still . . . I didn’t listen.

It was about a month ago that I happened to turn on NPR on my way home from dropping off the babysitter. I was instantly drawn into the story of Krista Tippett’s guest, even though Krista Tippett herself drives me up the wall. (Pro Tip: I know. I  know.) I loved the music, too.

Well, spoiler alert: the guest was Craig Minowa and the music was his band, Cloud Cult. Continue reading

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Life and Death and Lullaby

Yesterday morning I visited an older man before he had a big, scary surgery.  It’s been a very stressful week for him and his family as they made the decision to go ahead with the surgery.  We’ve been talking about death a lot.

But when I walked into the hospital room, his granddaughter was showing him a picture of his newest great grandchild, born just six hours earlier in a hospital an hour away.

And as we visited, a few bars of Brahms Lullaby suddenly came over the PA system.  Another family member smiled and said, “A baby was just born!”

The lullaby played again a moment later.  The nurse grinned and added, “Maybe twins!”

What a sweet and lovely thing.  To share the arrival of a baby with everyone in a hospital, to give those who are sick, suffering, worried, or in pain a chance to look up, smile, and think about new life.

What’s making you smile this weekend?

Video Bonus: My dad sang this song to my sister and me, in German, every night.  So, what I really want is a video of him singing it, but instead, how about Pavarotti, Carreras, and Domingo?

Want more?  Look around on YouTube and you can find all kinds of versions of this lullaby.  Including one with Nat King Cole, singing an English version, over a montage of sleeping kitten photos.  Which is apparently a thing.  Have fun, everybody!


Filed under Ministry Matters, Music!, Thankful Hearts

Black Friday Fight Song

Juichende jongens bij VSV-DFC / Boys cheering when their  favorite team scores

Last year, I had a surprisingly great time Black Friday shopping for the first time.

This year, I’m going to the circus.  (Pro Tip: There’s a joke in here somewhere.  If you find it, share in the comments.)

Wherever your day takes you today–fighting the crowds at Best Buy, fighting the pile of dishes in your kitchen–you need a theme song.  So I offer, for your Black Friday pleasure, Zoe’s latest rendition of the Minnesota Rouser.

Or, as we call it, “Daddy’s song”:

What’s your get-up-and-go song?


Filed under Music!, Your Moment of Zoe

For All the Saints


“There’s nothing sacred about lighting candles,” my seminary worship professor said.

He was right, of course.  We use candles in worship, but the act of lighting them isn’t a sacred act.

But the warm and hopeful glow of eleven candles around the baptismal font on a gray and gloomy morning, one for each saint of First and Beckville who died since last All Saints Sunday, and one for each new saint who was baptized since then.  There’s something sacred about that.

And the silence of the children gathered on the chancel steps as we lit a baptismal candle from one of the candles on the font and placed it gently on the altar, to remind us of our own baptisms and how they connect us to to those eleven people and to Christ.  There was something sacred about that.

And sitting and gazing at the candlelight as we sang “For All The Saints” and “Thy Strong Word” and “There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy”.  And standing at the altar and looking out at all the sinners and saints through that gentle glow while I presided at holy communion.  There was something sacred about that, too.

All Saints Sunday is a little Easter.  A little glimpse of the God who brings hope out of despair and life out of death.  Who washes us all in the baptismal waters, feeds us all at Christ’s table, and gives us all the Light of the world, the light of the sun, the light of the candles by which we sing:

Alleluia!  Alleluia!  Praise to thee who light dost send!

Alleluia!  Alleluia, without end!

What’s better in candlelight?  Or, what has you singing alleluia today?

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Filed under Ministry Matters, Music!, Thankful Hearts