When You Know it’s Time to Move

It’s one thing to move when you’re unhappy, it’s quite another to move when everything is going positively swell.

We’ve got ourselves a swell life here in Phoenix. Our kids are here, family and friends abound, we have jobs we like.

Heck, I even like my coworkers. How amazing is that?

We live in a decent neighborhood, in a decent house, with decent neighbors who watch out for each other.

But yeah. We’re moving. To Minnesota.

When people ask us why, it’s not always easy to explain.

“You know it’s cold there, right?”
“Yeah, I’ve heard that.”

Snowing in April
The view from our hotel the first time we visited. It was mid-April.

We could say there’s a danger in getting too comfortable. You start to feel like you’re coasting along. No longer striving, no longer trying. Just settling in and waiting for the inevitable.

Sometimes what you need is a change of scenery.

“You know what the state bird of Minnesota is? The Mosquito!”
“Haha.”

Bench by the river
The Mississippi as it flows through Little Falls, a ten-minute drive from Randall, MN

Do you ever get an antsy feeling that something is not quite right? You feel a bit unsettled. Despite your life being perfectly fine, you have this voice inside saying, “You need a change… It’s time… Do something!”

And as Husband is a Presbyterian minister, we tend to put stock in that sort of thing.

We’ve been in the same house in Phoenix, at the same church, for 17 years.

Seventeen years. That’s half a century in Pastor-years.

He wanted to try something different. Still ministry, of course, but somewhere different.

Sometime after Thanksgiving, he “activated” his information. In essence, it alerts churches looking for a new pastor that he’s available. As per usual, he didn’t narrow the parameters as to where he was willing to go.

We’ve always been foolhardy in that regard.

“Hey, maybe we’ll wind up in Hawaii!”
“Yeah… or maybe Detroit.”
“Um…”

trees, Minnesota, small town
The sleepy little town of Randall, Minnesota

Fortunately for us, Presbyterians allow pastors to have a say in the matter. We’re not moved willy-nilly. We can scope a place out, take our time, interview the people there as much as they interview us. Do everything we can to make sure it’s the right move.

We were in no hurry, and with Husband having recently turned 60, we figured it’d be a slow process. We expected a year, maybe two, before we found the right place.

So imagine our surprise when he started getting emails from Florida, Pennsylvania, New York, California, Texas, South Carolina, Oklahoma…

“Oklahoma?”
“Um… no.”

river, small town, Minnesota, Little Falls
Look at all these homes blessed with riverfront views. Do you think they know how lucky they are?

Another thing we weren’t prepared for was how much politics would enter into it.

With each interview, Husband had a clear impression they were fishing for his political views, especially with regards to gay marriage. They weren’t asking overtly of course, but the meaning was there. And almost without fail, the churches contacting him were very conservative.

We began to wonder, was there some sort of code language we missed? Was there a phrase he used in his information form that inadvertently labeled him Alt-right?

He began researching locations as soon as a church contacted him, mostly to see how their area voted in the last election. What we hoped for was an area with some political diversity, neither all red nor all blue.

We look great in purple.

Most of the areas were heavily one sided. Such as South Carolina.

“I saw that 86% of your county voted for Trump.”
“Well, we ARE the Bible Belt, you know.” (Said in the most charming accent ever)

quilt shop, coffee shop, creamery building, randall minnesota
Randall’s quilt and coffee shop, housed in the old Creamery building. Soon to be my favorite hangout.

Then sometime in February he was contacted by a church in Randall, Minnesota. A Google image search showed us… well, honestly they need to hire a new photographer for that town. Most of the images are less than stellar.

But our emails with the church were lovely, as was a phone call. So a Skype interview was scheduled.

That then had to be rescheduled.

“So let me get this straight: no one from your committee can get to the church right now, on account of snow?”
“We really didn’t want to tell you that.”

snowy path, trees, minnesota
Are we nuts? Yeah, probably.

The eventual Skype interview was one of the most pleasant interviews he had, lasting for over an hour. It led to a second Skype interview, followed by a third… then a fourth… then a fifth…

The conversations were open, honest, forthcoming. They classified themselves liberal. They’re also pro-military.

They’re an interesting bunch.

They flew us up there. We hugged. (Heck, after five Skype interviews you’re practically family.) They put us in a nice hotel, drove us around town. Showed us the best roads for scenic motorcycle rides. (Husband took notes.)

They took us to a restaurant by a lake (of course), where Husband watched two snowmobiles make their way across the ice.

“That looks fun.”
“Um… yeah, actually. It does.”

snowmobiles, minnesota, family in the snow
Sure it’s cold, but dang it’s fun!

It’s an odd thing, but sometimes it takes a move across the country to find your kind of people.

So Husband wanted something different.

I think we found it.

church in randall minnesota

Visitors to the Parsonage: Goatmen, Drunkards, and Convicts

In our last episode of Feeding of Folly, the blogger hinted she was “busy,” and therefore would have difficulty posting on a regular basis.

“Busy with what?” readers demanded.

She didn’t say. The only morsel she offered was that for the next few weeks, she would be supplementing her blog posts with found writings from her Great-Aunt and Great-Grandfather. (Leaving readers with the profound hope that not only will Great-Aunt Clara be a good storyteller, she’ll also know the proper use of a semicolon.)

First, by way of introduction, here is the short bio for Clara that appears in Pioneer Memoirs:

Clara Jacobson (1863-1949), eldest child of Abraham and Nicoline Jacobson, studied at Monona Academy, Decorah Institute, and Valder College. She taught both public and parochial school for many years in Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin. She wrote a great many accounts of the pioneer days and her work appeared in Norwegian-American journals and newspapers.

The passage below is an excerpt from “Minder fra Perry Prestegard” — Memories from Perry Parsonage. It first appeared in print in 1911 in the Norwegian-American journal Symra. Clara’s father, Abraham, served a congregation in Dane County, Wisconsin from 1868-1878.

Here, Clara describes a few of the guests her family entertained at the parsonage. (I have to say, I rather like these people. Their guests, too.)

In those days the parsonage was a stopping place for itinerant people of various kinds. Father and Mother never asked any pay for keeping them, and it was in exceptional cases that anything was offered for their trouble.

Many queer personages visited the minister. Among others may be named Gjeitemand (the goat man). He had gotten this name because he had brought goats with him from Norway. These he sold to Americans, but after a while they returned to their former owner, who sold them again. He loved to tell local stories, but when they did not receive the desired appreciation his visits ceased.

Jonsebergen was also a well-known figure. He was very fond of strong liquor, but as he lived far from town he could not get it easily when the longing came over him.

Mr. Dahle, who kept the store, always had spirits on hand, together with various patent medicines, but he only sold them for medicinal purposes. Once when Jonsebergen was somewhat drunk, he went to the store to get liquor, but Dahle would not sell him any.

What did he do then? Yes, he actually came to the minister and asked him to write a testimony saying, Let Jonsebergen get a pint of whiskey. “The pastor in Valdres wrote this for me,” he added.

“No,” Father said. “If I were to write, I would have to say, ‘Do not let Jonesbergen get any whiskey.’”

Jonsebergen left, stumbling along. Later he said to his friends, “What in the world was the matter with me that I should think of going to the minister when I was drunk?”

Haavelsongutten, who was well known among people from Valdres, Norway, also visited the parsonage. He had a bad record, for he had served a prison sentence at Christiania (Oslo) for his misdeeds. When he was released he left for America.

He had acquired a citified speech and did not use his native dialect when he visited the minister. He spoke of the “institution,” and Father understood that by this he meant the prison. Once he told Father that his daughter was married to a cavalry officer in Christiania. When Father could not conceal his surprise, he said in his stiffest book language, “Do you not know, pastor, that a black sow can have white pigs?”

Here is a picture of the whole Jacobson clan: Mom, Dad, and all 11 (eleven!) children:

IMG_20180424_201733414

Great-Aunt Clara is the woman seated on the far right. The young child leaning into her is my Grandmother.

Tune in next week when Great-Aunt Clara tells of more visitors, including a schoolteacher of whom a farmer says, “We might just as well have a cow to teach school as this Berentsen.”

More on My Family History: The Cheaters, Lovers, and Jerks

If you remember, a few weeks back I told you about a book I found called “Pioneer Memoirs” — a home-published item made by some of my relatives on my dad’s side. I’ve been having fun looking through it and I’ll probably be sharing a few things with you as the mood strikes me. (Consider yourself warned.)

Pioneer Memories

In the back of the book is a “pedigree chart” that ends with the birth of my grandmother, whom I was named after. So that’s cool.  (I’m feeling a little like a show dog at the moment, what with my pedigree and all.)

Included with the “pedigree” are some short bios for the earliest ancestors, at least the ones they could find something about. The farthest back they were able to trace the family is listed as Generation I. It’s a guy known only by the name Anders, as his son was named Jakob Andersen (Andersen: son of Anders) and since the son lived during the early 1500s, they’re guessing Anders lived in the late 1400s.

Personally I think this is cheating a bit, genealogy-wise, but whatever.

Okay, so in Generation II, that’s where we meet Jakob Andersen. Old Jake was the minister of the Fyrisdal parish in Telemark County in southern Norway in the years 1532 to 1557. Interesting detail: in 1532 he was a Catholic priest. According to the records of the Fyrisdal church, Jake was “the last Catholic priest and the first Lutheran minister in Fyrisdal.”

He switched over to Lutheranism in 1537, got married, had a baby, and yada-yada-yada, here I am. Lovely how that turns out, don’t you think?

Anyway, this family history doesn’t really get smoking until Generation III. That’s where we meet Jakob Hansen Morland, born in 1619. According to the bio, he served as a parish pastor from 1653 to 1672, then as a parish pastor and dean from 1683 to 1697.

Notice the break from 1672 to 1683? The break in his ministry, we are told, was due to his “suspension from clerical duties because of a violation of church regulations, involving marital irregularities.”

Now what do you suppose is meant by “marital irregularities”?

According to the bio, he was married twice. His first wife died, they think in 1670, but no date is given for his second marriage. Was remarriage considered an “irregularity” in the late 1600s, or was something else afoot?

Interesting. Highly interesting.

Reading on, we learn the names of Jakob Morland’s children: Sivert, Hans, Susanne, Barbara, and Alhed. We get an extra tidbit on Alhed. It tells us, “she married out of her class, her husband, Jon Norby, being a peasant in Nissedal.”

You know what this means, don’t you? Alhed married for love!

I can see it now: Alhed, youngest daughter of the wealthy parish minister, is walking to the village of Nissedal. She crosses the lane and there by the mill is the young peasant boy with piercing blue eyes, Jon Norby.  💕

We learn nothing more about Alhed, though I want to believe they were a happy couple. Do you suppose her father approved? Somehow I have my doubts.

The bio continues:

“After having lived in retirement at Utabjaa in the Børte district, Morland became pastor of the Vinje parish in 1676 by royal appointment, but his peasant parishioners refused to accept him and locked the church door.”

Whoa!

Picture this: the proud minister arrives in town on a snowy Sunday morn, wearing his splendid robe. His wife by his side, they walk through the quiet village and approach the church. He has no suspicion anything is amiss. He takes hold of the large church door and pulls. It won’t budge — it’s bolted from inside! Are those voices he hears? He pounds on the door… What’s that they’re chanting?

Morland no more, Morland no more!
(in Norwegian)

Oh, the impertinence!

What do you think their main gripe was? Did they get wind of his “marital irregularities? Did they hear how angry he got over his daughter’s marriage to their good man, Jon Norby?

Or maybe it was the fact they had no choice in who their pastor was, and these peasants were tired of being pushed around!

Power to the peasants!

Sadly, this mini-peasant revolt was short-lived:

“However, after the authorities had imposed fines on them for their temerity, Morland was installed in his pastorate, and in 1683 he was promoted to the office of dean.”

Well, dang! First the peasants aren’t allowed to choose their own pastor, then they get fined for trying to take a stand.

“Of Morland it is said that he was thrifty, aggressive and strong-minded, so that at his death left several farms in both Upper and Lower Telemark.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m totally siding with the peasants on this one. My great-great-great-etc.-grandfather sounds like a real jerk.

But that Jon Norby sounds like a hunk. 😍

Welcome to Our Church of Holy Introversion – Please Enter Quietly

Feel free to stay in the comfort of your own home and join us online. This, my fellow introverts, is your safe haven. 

Now let us gather together (not literally together, of course; we respect personal boundaries here), and recite our Opening Prayer of Introversion:

O Holy Silence and Quiet Interlude, we do seek you.
Please make our trembling hearts, which feel deeply, but discretely, Yours. Lead us to that still place within our souls, where we can find rest, and, if possible, keep the noisy people from talking for just one freakin’ minute.
We say all this in the name of the system we hold good and faithful and true, Dewey Decimal.
Amen.

And now it’s time for our first hymn. The words are printed in your bulletin if one was emailed to you, but if you don’t have one, no worries. They’re on the screen too.

As always, you can sing along if you want, or just think the words quietly to yourself. That works too.

I’ll Go Home
(sung to the tune of I’ll Fly Away)

Some glad moment when this party’s o’er,
I’ll go home (go home)
To my place where silence never ends,
I’ll go home (go home)

I’ll go on home, oh Glory
I’ll go home (go home)
When my ride is ready, “Bye and bye”
I’ll go home (go home)

Just a few more weary minutes then,
I’ll go home (go home)
No more mingling and faking friendliness,
I’ll go home (go home)

I’ll go on home, oh Glory
I’ll go home (go home)
When my ride is ready, “Bye and bye”
I’ll go home (go home)

Thank you, everyone. That was beautiful. Boy, those old standards always bring a tear to the eye, don’t they?

I’d like to point out that playing organ for us today (from the comfort of her own residence, of course), is Beatrice Milford from Lincoln, Nebraska. Thank you, Beatrice, for sharing your gifts with us, however privately.

Now it’s time for sharing our joys and concerns. If you have any you’d like to share, please type them in the box below. Don’t be shy.

Though if you are shy, that’s okay too.

Katy in Melbourne: I have a joy. Yesterday at work, my boss approved my request to work more from home. I start next week. Three days at home, two at the office. Hallelujah!

Joel in Austin: I have a concern. I’m a student and in two weeks, I have to give an oral report in my English Literature course. Please pray for me. Pneumonia would be nice. Or maybe a brief coma.

Felicity in Seattle: I just want to say how thankful I am for finding this church. I feel like this is a place where I can be myself, let my hair down and get crazy if I want to. Not that I want to. Well, you know what I mean.

Yes, we do, Felicity.

Thank you everyone for sharing. We also received a number of private messages from individuals not comfortable with voicing their concerns in a private forum. We respect that.

And now it’s time to recite our statement of faith:

We believe in the Triune Behavior of Introspection, Self-Awareness, and Not Speaking Until You’re Spoken To and Possibly Not Then Either.

We believe in Thinking Things Over for a Really, Really Long Time Before Acting on Them, and Then Thinking a Little Longer.

We believe a few trusted friends are far better than many friends, and we uphold every person’s right to refuse a hug when they don’t want to be hugged, and oh, if only everyone did.

We believe in the building of more libraries, the sanctity of quiet spaces, and the necessity of a kitty cat on our lap and/or a doggie at our feet.

Cat for an IntrovertWe believe in a Brooding Spirit,
The Holy Contemplation,
The Forgiveness of Faking Friendliness,
And the Joy of Creativity, forevermore.
Amen.

Now, before our final hymn, I’d like to draw your attention to a few events happening this week. As always, newcomers are encouraged to attend at any time, and remember, everything is offered online.

Of course.

Monday Podcast

Coping with Extraverts at Work: Strategies for Surviving Committee Meetings, Group Projects, and Coworkers with Pet Phrases

Tuesday Video Series

Establishing Boundaries – Handling the Extraverts in your Life, Episode 5: Violence is Not the Answer

Wednesday Webinar

Recluse or Hermit: Choosing the Right Lifestyle for You

Thursday Choir Meeting & Potluck

Please email our director, Winifred Placida, if you’re interested in joining. She’ll send you the music so you can sing from home. If you’d like to join the potluck, send us an email and we’ll give you the details once we figure them out.

Friday Book Club Meeting

Online discussion of the new book: I was an Extravert Wannabe – Confessions of a Closeted IntrovertIntroverted boy

We hope you’ll find time to join us for one or more of these activities. And remember, if you have any ideas for future events, please don’t hesitate to text us.

And now it’s time for our final hymn. I think you all know it. Beatrice, will you start us off, please? 

How Great’s My Home
(Sung to the tune of How Great Thou Art)

Verse 1: O Lord, my room, when I in awesome wonder,
Consider all these four walls mean to me
I have my books, my laptop and my Netflix,
It’s all I need, for an evening of pure glee.

Chorus: Then sings my soul! I’m finally all alone:
How great’s my Home! How great’s my Home!

Then sings my soul, I’m finally all alone:
How great’s my Home! How great’s my Home!

Verse 2: When through the woods, and forest glades I wander
And read Thoreau, and hear about his beans,

He make good points, perhaps a bit pretentious,
Though I gotta say, his cabin sounds sweet to me.

(Chorus)

Verse 3: When a friend should come, to a point of understanding,
And drive me home, what joy shall fill my heart,
I’ll tell them thanks, and promise I’ll call them real soon,
And then proclaim, “My Home, how great thou art!”    

(Chorus)

Thank you all for joining us today. Please be sure to sign our guest book on your way out, and remember: There is nothing wrong with you! You are perfect just the way you are!

And now, let us all rise for the blessing:

May your books be plenty
And your interruptions few.
May no unwanted attention
Ever shine upon you.
May peace be in your home
May social obligations be few
And may the extroverts in your life
Finally start listening to you.

We’ll leave you today with a quote from our Patron Saint of Introverts, Greta Garbo:

I never said, “I want to be alone.” I only said, “I want to be let alone! There is all the difference.

And let all the Introverts say: Amen!

 

Note: The inspiration for this post came from Brian of Bonnywood, who very generously gave his permission for me to organize this Church, even though it was his idea.
Thank you, Brian!  🙂

Bible Stories in Text: David & Bathsheba

You may not believe this, but I wrote this piece long before the news about a certain Hollywood producer hit the fan. But given the subject matter — a powerful man taking advantage of a powerless girl — it really shouldn’t surprise anyone.
Sigh.

For context, read II Samuel, chapter 11, verses 1-4 …

David and Bathsheba 1

David and Bathsheba 2David and Bathsheba 3David and Bathsheba 4David and Bathsheba 5

Four missed calls
Two voicemail

What Sort of Old Lady Will I Be?

There are few guarantees in this world, but one thing we can be sure of: as long as we keep living, we’ll keep getting older. Which means one day I’ll be an old lady.

So I’ve been wondering. What sort of old lady will I be?

As it so happens, I’ve known several old ladies in my lifetime. And for the most part, I’ve had some great role models.

Oh sure, there are always a few cranks in the bunch. (My first blog post listed the worst traits of Old Ladyism.) But in general, and in all sincerity, I’d say the women I’ve met have been real gems.

There are three in particular I wish to emulate. Here, in brief, are their stories. Remember, these are real people. Only their names have been changed Continue reading “What Sort of Old Lady Will I Be?”

Bad Theology: A Special Edition for St. Patrick’s Day

wp_20170104_14_18_20_proFor a brief look into St. Patrick’s history, with a healthy dose of good Theology thrown in, please turn to Mitch Teemley’s post: Forgiveness + Love = Freedom.

It brought to mind a book I read… couldn’t remember the name, but I knew it had something to do with Celtic Christianity. So that’s what I Googled.

Little did I know it would lead me down a rabbit hole toward Bad Theology… Continue reading “Bad Theology: A Special Edition for St. Patrick’s Day”

Righteousness is a Dangerous Business

bizarrobelieverjerkcolorThis is my second theology post with a Bizarro comic. I fear if this continues, I’m going to have to add Dan Piraro as a cowriter and give him a cut of my earnings.

As much as I love this comic – as well as most every comic Piraro puts forth (here’s his blog, by the way) – I think we all know religion doesn’t have a monopoly on self-righteousness. We see it nearly everywhere: Continue reading “Righteousness is a Dangerous Business”