WEB EXCLUSIVE: Tigirlily Talks Joy, Holiday Memories, and Inspiration
Click here to visit Tigirlily’s website, where you can learn more about the sisters, purchase their music, and see their upcoming concert dates.
WEB EXCLUSIVE: Fertility Care
Scott and Lindsay Cleveland and Jana Heen share more about the Creighton Model FertilityCare System.
In Memory of Myrt Armstrong: She Planted the Seeds of Hope and Yielded Joy
Myrt Armstrong Photos and Article by Lexi Kerzman Dedicated, passionate, vibrant, opinionated. Those are just a few words that describe the late Myrt Armstrong. Myrt passed away on October 24, 2016 but her legacy is everlasting. Myrt dedicated her life to advocating for mental health. In 1970 she joined the Mental Health Association of North Dakota. She was passionate about her work; she spent the next 25 years of her life as the organization’s executive director. In her years, Myrt worked around the clock, and even brought a suicide hotline to her house. “You would be visiting her house and she would answer the red phone,” says Diane Zainhofsky, Executive Director of the Abused Adult Resource Center. “She would drop what she was doing and answer the phone, because she didn’t think the phone was answered quickly enough other places.” Nearly 20 years ago, Myrt volunteered at the Abused Adult Resource Center, and the Seeds of Hope thrift store. Five years later, she was instrumental in helping to open the Christmas store, a place where anyone can purchase quality Christmas merchandise at thrift store prices. The store includes everything from Christmas trees, lights, decorative plates, and more. The store gave Myrt a chance to mix her love for Christmas and her work together. In its first year of operation, the Christmas store brought in $10,000. All proceeds from the Christmas store go directly back to the AARC, where they help pay for support services for abused women and children served by the AARC. Each year the store continues to grow—in 2015, the Christmas store profits totaled $65,000. Revenue generated from the store makes up about 26 percent of the AARC’s total yearly budget. “It’s just amazing the donations people in this community make,” Diane said. “First of all they love Christmas and they want to change it out and they know the Christmas store is a good cause.” Dorinda Eckrorth has been working at the store since the beginning when she started as a volunteer. She grew close to Myrt and cherishes every moment she shared with her. “She was a wonderful person to work with,” Dorinda says. “She made you feel like you were the only person that mattered. And it’s just hard being the first year without her.“ Myrt’s funeral was held the same night as the Christmas store opened for the 2016 season. Dorinda believes it was Myrt’s way of showing she will always be around. Both Dorinda and Diane know that as long as the Christmas store is open, no one will forget the name Myrt Armstrong and what she did for this community. “There’s just no way anyone will ever be able to forget her in the Christmas store,” Diane says. “We have a beautiful picture we are going to display of her and we are hoping to officially rename the store to the Myrt Armstrong Christmas Store. I will never let this community forget what she has done for the AARC and for our Christmas store.” With Myrt’s passion and dedication, she brought joy to the community. She worked with people who were in a low part of their life and helped bring them back to joy. The Christmas store is only part of what she contributed to the community, but continues to bring joy to many. “Our store is a happy part of our agency,” says Diane. “It always looks wonderful. People love Christmas and even if they just walk in the store and don’t buy anything they get an overwhelming feeling of joy.” ABOUT AARC The Abused Adult Resource Center (AARC) began as a citizen’s task force in 1976. The AARC serves victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. The ARRC serves seven counties: Burleigh, Morton, Grant, Sioux, Emmons, Kidder, and Sheridan. The AARC provides emergency support, crisis intervention, temporary shelter, food, counseling, and advocacy to victims. The AARC works with the community to develop an awareness and sensitivity to issues of domestic violence and sexual assault, and to establish programs to break the cycle of abuse. To get help, victims can contact the AARC 24-hours a day, seven days a week toll-free at 1-866-341-7009. To learn more call 701-222-8370 or go to www.abusedadultresourcecenter.com. Lexi Kerzman Lexi Kerzman is a senior at Bismarck High School where she is the editor of the Hiherald and is also involved in basketball and track. She’s a fan of Christmas, coffee, and holiday socks.
With Great Joy: Sharing Their Music
By Jody Kerzman Music brings joy. It’s something four North Dakota women have known since they were very young, and now they’re sharing their music with the world, bringing joy to people beyond their small North Dakota hometowns. We caught up with North Dakota’s own Kat Perkins, Gwen Sebastian, and Kendra and Krista Slaubaugh of Tigirlily. They shared about their careers, their passion for music, and how music brings them joy every day. Vanie Poyey Photography Kat Perkins Kat Perkins is no stranger to writing songs. She’s written dozens of songs, and every song has meaning. At the moment, she says the most inspirational song she’s written is one called “Joy, Joy, Joy.” “I was inspired to write that song by the kids I see in my classroom visits. They really inspired me to write it and I get a lot of inspiration from kids,” explains Kat Perkins. “They don’t even know how inspiring they are; their enthusiasm to learn, listen, and to live fearlessly is just awesome.” Kat has lived a pretty fearless life herself. She’s been performing since kindergarten. “I begged to sing in front of people,” remembers Kat. “I grew up in small town North Dakota, so my audiences were talent shows, church programs, school, and community programs. It didn’t matter. I was hooked.” At age 15, Kat started her own band, made up of her family members. They played every chance they got. Whether it was a street dance, talent show, or community days, you name it, Kat and her band were there. She spent the summer after graduating high school performing in the Medora Musical. “By the time I was 18, I really felt like I wanted to pursue music as a career,” says Kat. “So I moved to the big city of Minneapolis. I auditioned for a lot of musicals and theater productions. I started performing for a living, and felt like I could actually call myself a professional. But I grew up in a family where education was super important so I wanted to make sure I got a degree too.” Kat started taking college courses while still in high school in Scranton, North Dakota. Coming from a long line of teachers, her first instinct was to get a teaching degree. “I wanted to have that in case performing didn’t work out,” she explains. “I soon found out that it was realistic to making a living performing.” Kat changed her focus, and got a degree in cosmetology instead. “Becoming a cosmetologist really helped me become more of a jack-of-all-trades. I still do my own hair and makeup much of the time.” This is Her Voice Kat’s big break came in 2013, when she was chosen for the blind auditions on the popular television reality show, “The Voice.” “The producers found me on YouTube and asked me to come audition for the show,” remembers Kat. “That decision forever changed my life. Putting myself on that national platform where millions of people could hear me sing really took my career to another level and brought more opportunities.” Kat made the top five on “The Voice,” and the show kickstarted her career. She released her first single, “Fearless,” in August 2014. Today, she is busier than ever. She performs full time; her summers are spent doing outdoor gigs at fairs and festivals across the country. She has performed overseas for the troops and every fall and the spring, she spends her time visiting schools. “We do lyceums and assemblies for kids,” says Kat. “We talk about being fearless and kind, and talk about anti-bullying. We do a mini-concert for the students too,” she explains. “I always joke that if I can inspire one kid to try something new, to step outside of their comfort zone, then I’ve done my job. I love to inspire kids through my music and my story. I want to empower them to make their dreams come true if they work hard and remain fearless. I also stress the importance of being kind. Kindness is so important for success.” Christmas Tour and Family Joy This time of year, Kat is all about Christmas. “I love Christmas,” says Kat. “I developed our Christmas show last year and had such a blast doing it. I wish I could do Christmas music year round!” Kat’s tour kicked off in Bismarck after Thanksgiving. She’ll play 15 dates in 15 different cities, finishing up on December 23. That’s her birthday, and she plans to spend it with her family. “My family is everything to me,” says Kat. “Family is what gives me the most joy. My parents retired and moved to the Twin Cities to be closer to my sister, Kelly, and me. And now Kelly has kids, so I have nieces and nephews and they add so much more joy to the family.” The joy her family brings makes up for the things Kat has had to give up for her career. “In the beginning the biggest sacrifices were financial; I could never afford to take vacations. Even being with my friends was a sacrifice because my work happens on the weekends, when most people are unwinding and hanging out. That never worked for me,” says Kat. “It was hard to make and keep friends. I still don’t get to do much of that; I work nights and weekends and I travel all the time. “This is a very fulfilling career, the fans and the recognition is so fun, but it is not a lucrative career. The paychecks are not consistent like they are if you work a nine to five job. There are some months that I don’t get a check. I had to learn quickly how to budget for that.” But she didn’t have to learn how to work hard; she learned that as a kid in Scranton, North Dakota. “The great thing about growing up in a small town is they all had my back when I started this journey. They still do. I can still feel the support, and I know they’re cheering me on.” Photo by Michael Gomez Gwen Sebastian Ask Gwen Sebastian what brings her joy, and she’s quick to answer. “Music. Being with my family and friends. Being with my husband. And bubble baths,” she answers with a laugh. Aside from the bubble baths, it’s a list you’d probably expect from Gwen, who has been singing and performing for as long as she can remember. Gwen grew up on a farm near Hebron, North Dakota. Her parents were not only farmers, but also musicians, a gift they passed along to their daughter. “I started singing with them when I was pretty little,” remembers Gwen. “We played fairs, weddings, even bars when they’d let me in.” After graduating high school, Gwen set off for nursing school. But she never finished. Her heart was already in Nashville. “I always wanted to move there and to be a part of the songwriting community there. So, about 20 years ago now, I followed my dreams to Nashville. I’ve been here ever since.” She was not an overnight success. It took six years of being there, working a regular job as a property manager to get into music. “I was really intimidated by it, even though it was the one thing I wanted most in life.” Fourteen years ago, Gwen went on tour with her band, and she’s been touring ever since. The biggest boost to her career came in 2012, when she auditioned for “The Voice.” “I did it because I was ready to take my career to another level,” says Gwen. “I was lucky enough to pick from three coaches: CeeLo Green, Adam Levine, and Blake Shelton.” She picked Blake Shelton, a choice that forever changed her career. “After I was done on ‘The Voice,’ Blake asked me to go on tour with him, so I did that for quite some time. I had a single with him called ‘My Eyes.’ He was great and did so much for me,” Gwen says. “At the time I was touring with Blake Shelton, he was married to Miranda Lambert so I became friends with her too. For awhile I was singing with Blake, Miranda, and doing my own shows. I was pretty busy! I’m currently singing back-up for Miranda, doing shows with her, as well as my own shows.” Singing and Writing Gwen is doing more than just performing with Miranda Lambert. She co-wrote three of the songs on Miranda’s new album, “The Weight of These Wings,” which was released on November 18. Gwen helped write “Runnin’ Just in Case,” “Dear Old Sun,” and “I’ve Got Wheels.” “I’ve become a much better writer. Every time I sit down with other writers I become better,” says Gwen. “Writing with Miranda, and with other great female writers like Ashley Monroe and Terri Jo Box has been amazing. And it’s true, the more you write, the better you get.” Gwen has also been busy writing songs for herself. Her new album is set to be released in early 2017. “My own music style has evolved since when I first started writing songs. I think all my influences over the years come through in my writing. I am not just a country music artist, especially with my new album. I have been influenced by so many different styles of music, including Queen, Madonna, Bonnie Raitt, and even Dolly Parton. “I’m also influenced by North Dakota. One song on that album is called ‘Oh Cowboy,’ which is about my parents, and making a living on a farm, and the hardships that come with that. It’s about raising kids and then letting them go,” she explains. “Other songs on the album are influenced by other life experiences I’ve had. I’ve been through a divorce, and I’ve seen friends go through it. It’s hard. But not all the songs are that deep. There’s a part of me that really just likes a good groove in a song that will make them want to get up and dance.” Empowering Women Gwen knows when it comes to influencing others, she’s in a great position to do just that. She considers herself a role model, not just for young girls, but for women of all ages. “As women, I think we are all examples to each other,” explains Gwen. “We can learn a lot from each other. I just want to makes sure women know that they don’t have to settle. That was always my motto; if you don’t like where you’re at, whether it’s your relationship or your job, find something that makes you happy. I know we have responsibilities, and I’m not saying women should walk out on their responsibilities, but women need to find the light, find their passion. Because if you’re not happy, others around you aren’t either. “I hope young girls find their light and the confidence to be themselves and are not afraid to be different. We live in a world where social media is a part of young girls’ lives everyday. There are bullies everywhere, but there are also allies out there. Find a good group of friends that will stand up for you. And then make sure you stand up for others, and for what you believe in too.” For Gwen, doing that has meant making some difficult decisions. She decided years ago to pursue music instead of motherhood, a choice that wasn’t easy. But there are little things, and moments that assure her she’s on the path she’s supposed to be. “A fan got a tattoo of the lyrics of my song ‘Nothing,’ and that was one of the most surprising things that has ever happened in my music career. I was really humbled by that.” And, at the end of the day, Gwen knows there’s always a bubble bath waiting for her. Eave Images Tigirlily Kendra and Krista Slaubaugh of Hazen, North Dakota have been making music together for as long as they can remember. “We’ve been singing together since we were tiny little tots,” says 20-year-old Kendra with a smile. “We started doing YouTube videos and community events and it started getting bigger from there. We started getting calls from out of state to come perform for different events and since then we’ve recorded music in Nashville.” “In the past year we’ve performed in New York, Texas, and Nashville and all kinds of places in between,” says 18-year-old Krista. “Now we’re really branching out more nationally and internationally with our media sites.” It’s been a bit of a whirlwind for the sisters. They’ve performed in front of thousands of fans, opened for acts like Big and Rich, Justin Moore, and Thompson Square. They have been rapidly growing an international fan base via YouTube, where their videos have been viewed more than four million times. Their social media sites show over 145,000 fans. It all started four years ago, when they finally settled on the name Tigirlily. “We used to go by Kendra and Krista,” explains Krista. “But we wanted to find a name that was catchy and that people would remember. We came across tigerlily and fell in love. It’s a flower, it’s girly, and it’s pretty and fun. We thought that described us pretty well. Then we changed the spelling to Tigirlily, so it really has ‘girl’ in the name and it fits us even better now. I’m more of the tiger, the fierce personality. Kendra is more bubbly, more of the flowery, girly one. The name just has so many different meanings and it fits us perfectly.” Living a Dream It isn’t just the name that fits these sisters perfectly. This career does too. “People always say find what you love and make a career out of it and that’s what we’re trying to do,” says Krista. “Today we were just at a meeting and it hit me—we just got to eat and talk for two hours, exchanging ideas and creating art and that’s part of our work. Who can say that? I definitely have ‘pinch me’ moments. We are so lucky we get to do music. It started with us just loving to do music and then actually became a career.” “It has always been a goal for us from day one we want to make music our career,” says Krista. “Even though we’re young we’re going to go for it.” Their dreams and hard work are paying off. After spending two years writing new music, they were finally able to record that music in Nashville at the end of August. Their new album is set to be released after the new year. It will be their fourth album, but this one, they say, is different. “It is definitely very different from what we’ve done before, but it’s different in a good way,” explains Kendra. “We’re growing. We’re going a different direction in our lives than we were when we first started Tigirlily, and we want our music to move in that direction too.” A quick scroll through their YouTube channel shows the growth and the change they’ve gone through. The girls giggle as they think about those early videos, but they say they don’t regret posting them. “I don’t regret it because it’s what helped us get to where we are today,” says Kendra. “It’s just growing pains along with way and that’s part of it. Any artist looks at their first music and goes, ‘look where I am now.’ We’ve learned so much along the way and gained so much knowledge.” “You can really see the evolution of me on YouTube,” laughs Krista. “We started posting videos when I was in sixth grade. It is hilarious to look at those videos.” In fact, the sisters say those old videos and those very public growing pains have helped them be positive role models for young girls. “I can show myself in those awkward junior high ages and show girls it’s okay. You’re going to be okay,” says Krista. “We always are thinking about that because growing up we had role models. If we can be role models to other young girls and anyone in general we’re doing something right,” says Kendra. “We take that seriously because we know how important that is and how limited good role models are today.” Tough Choices Their rise to stardom hasn’t come without sacrifices. Instead of going off to college like their friends, the sisters stayed home in Hazen. They’re balancing their musical career with online college classes, all while watching their friends have the traditional college experiences. “We stay in touch with our friends through social media and texting,” says Kendra. “There are times I wish I could be with them, but I have to stay home and create a video or learn a new song instead because that is my job.” “I was really considering playing college volleyball. I toured a couple schools, but I ultimately had to decide music is where I want to be in 10 years,” says Krista. “I probably never would become a professional volleyball player. I love volleyball, but music is going to be my career for hopefully the rest of my life.” Music is what brings these sisters joy. Singing it, playing it, performing it, sharing it with others. “It’s crazy to see how music can touch people,” says Kendra. “Music is such a universal language and touches people all over the world. That makes it all worth it. If our music can help one person get through a bad day or make them happier on a good day, that brings us joy.”
Fertility Care: What’s Going on With My Body?
By Jody Kerzman The Cleveland family—Scott, Lindsay, and four-year-old Mariam—is anxious to welcome a baby boy into their family in January. “We had been hoping to get pregnant for a year and a half but hadn’t,” says Lindsay. “I had been trying to track my cycle but it was difficult and I thought it was my fault that we couldn’t get pregnant.” Photography: Frugal Fotos Then the couple discovered the Creighton Model FertilityCare System™ (CrMS) and started meeting with a local FertilityCare Practitioner. The CrMS relies upon the standardized observation and charting of biological markers, which tell the couple when they are naturally fertile and infertile and discover abnormalities in a woman’s reproductive health. Four and a half months after starting the CrMS, Lindsay was pregnant. “After years of confusion about my cycle, I now feel empowered by the understanding I’ve gained through the Creighton model. When we weren’t conceiving, I thought there was something wrong with me,” recalls Lindsay. “I was working on a dissertation and that was stressful. Then I felt stress about being stressed. I worried the stress was hindering conception. I have an unusual cycle and it seemed unintelligible. Our practitioner showed me charts of other people’s cycles and there were charts of cycles that looked like mine. I realized I’m not this weird abnormal case. That was empowering.” Stories like the Cleveland’s are what keep Jana Heen going. She’s been teaching the Creighton Model in the Bismarck diocese since 2004. For the past 10 years, Jana was one of only four trained FertilityCare Practitioners in the Bismarck area. Now, there are nine, including one in Minot. “That’s exciting because for the first time we feel we can get the word out to the general public and be able to handle the number of people who may want to learn the method. I want more women and couples to know about this. Up until now, we’ve been teaching engaged couples in the church and married couples who have come to us for various reasons. I don’t want it to be something that gets hidden in a church,” says Jana. “Teaching and empowering women to know more about their bodies is very exciting and it’s for all women and married couples. I’ve sat across the table from young women just starting to learn about their cycles, couples struggling with infertility, to women suffering with health issues or infertility to women who are nearing menopause and trying to figure out that stage. They all want to know how to manage these stages and stay true to themselves. They are attracted to a natural approach their fertility and they desire to understand their bodies.” That understanding is exactly what led Adrianna Bohrer to CrMS. “I was 18 years old when my health issues started,” Adrianna recalls. “I was a senior in high school and the doctors were talking about putting me on medications I’d have to take my whole life.” Adrianna tried medications and made changes to her diet. Both helped at first, but Adrianna’s health continued to get worse. After six years of struggles, her health was so bad she had to drop out of college. “I only had two classes left to graduate, but my health was such a mess that I just couldn’t do it. I had learned to manage the pain, but I was also having anxiety and panic attacks. I knew something had to change.” Adrianna’s research led her to the Creighton Model. “I wanted to know what’s going on. If all these biomarkers can tell me what’s going on with my body, then that’s perfect,” she says. By this time, Adrianna was engaged to be married. She started the model, charted her cycles, and sent her information to the Pope Paul VI Institute in Omaha, Nebraska. Doctors there did a diagnostic surgery, and told Adrianna she had endometrial polyps, PCOS (Polysystic Ovarian Syndrome), endometriosis, and her ovaries were three times their normal size. Six weeks later, she had surgery to remove the endometriosis, polyps, and cysts. Within six weeks, she says her life changed. “It gave me my life back,” says Adrianna. “I had put my life on hold—not only had I dropped out of college, I had also postponed my Carly Loves Amos Photography wedding because of my health. It gave me the ability to look to the future and make plans and feel like myself again. And then to see the actual charts change was great. It was cool to have that concrete evidence that things are working so much better.” Adrianna’s health is the best it’s been in years; and she and her husband are expecting a baby in May. She says for the first time, she feels healthy, and empowered. She credits the Creighton Model. “When I first started using the Creighton model, it wasn’t about starting a family. It was about getting my health and my life back,” she says. “But the communication that it brought to our marriage strengthened it and really allowed us to let God work in our lives. Being in tune with your body and understanding what’s going on is huge. We never thought we’d have a baby this soon, but we were talking and praying about it every month. We weren’t necessarily trying but we were open to it and I believe God was working in our lives.”
Living Treasures: Ann Leingang and Monica Schmidt – Joy at 325°
Monica Schmidt and Ann Leingang By Marci Narum Age and circumstance are not relevant when discovering a new purpose in life and finding joy in it. Consider Ann Leingang, a feisty 88-year old who raised ten children and 40 grandchildren. Many of them live far away now but Ann remembers fondly all the baked goodies she made for them over the years. “My counter was completely full of cookies,” Ann recalls. “As the kids came home from school or work all these little hands kept coming. Most of the time I never had enough. By the end of the day they had them all gone and the next day I had to bake again.” Ann is a resident at St. Vincent’s Continuing Care Center in Bismarck. She moved in about a year-and-a-half ago after suffering a broken leg in an accident. Ann says her health is fine otherwise and she is looking forward to moving out; she wants to live in her own apartment. Until then, she needs something to help pass the time. So she’s baking cookies. “I didn’t have anything to do. I was just sitting in my room and time was going by. It made me feel terrible,” she says. “Somebody came along and said, ‘you want to bake cookies?’ I said, ‘yeah, that sounds good!’” That was in September. Ann is now the reason you can count on dozens of extra smiles in the hallways of St. Vincent’s every-other week as she and her friend and baking buddy, 89-year old Monica Schmidt, hand out fresh-from-the-oven cookies to staff, residents, and visitors. “We made chocolate chip cookies, zucchini bread, banana bread, zucchini cookies, and monster cookies,” says Monica. “First we took cookies to the fire department and police station and now we’re distributing them around here,” says Ann. “We made chocolate chip cookies and after that we had a job. We’re in!” On the day we visited, Ann and Monica baked flourless peanut butter cookies. “Here comes somebody,” says Ann, rolling forward in her wheelchair, enthusiastically greeting a couple and their toddler in the hallway. “You’re at the right place! Want to taste our cookies? We just took them out of the oven.” “They like to bake them for the staff because they appreciate what the staff does for them and they like to spread joy by baking for others,” says Allie Hanson, Activity Director and Volunteer Coordinator at St. Vincent’s. “It’s so easy to do this,” Ann says. “Allie furnishes all the ingredients and in an hour or so we’re in and out. We’d bake every day if they’d let us.” Ann and Monica bake about three dozen cookies each time. But the cookies don’t last long. “If they don’t all get cookies then they say, ‘oh, I heard you baked cookies the other day and I didn’t even get one!’” So the ladies are planning to make a bigger batch of some special cookies for the holiday. “At Christmas we’re going to make Pfeffernusse cookies that all the old people like. They have anise in them,” Ann says. Monica adds, “It’s a big recipe that makes 100 cookies.” A big takeaway from Ann and Monica’s story: whatever your circumstance or age there is no recipe for having purpose in life. It’s whatever brings you joy and gives joy to others too. As Ann says, “I like life. It’s what you make of it. When you have something that can make somebody happy and feel good, it makes your day for the rest of the day and time goes by faster.” Peanut Butter Cookies 1 cup peanut butter 1 cup sugar 1 egg 1 teaspoon of vanilla Bake for 15 minutes in 325°oven. To see more photos of Ann and Monica, click here. That will link you to a gallery of photos taken by Jacy, of Photos by Jacy.
Oh Man: Bill & Jerry Schlosser
Bill and Jerry Schlosser By Jamie Christensen “No blisters after eight days of trekking. My muscles may never talk to me again. That may have something to do with the previous two days of 17 and 18 mile treks . . .” That statement was part of a message home from Jerry Schlosser on August 30, 2016. Roughly 467 miles of trekking afoot over 32 days, more than 5,000 miles from home—what drives a person to do that? After being inspired by friends who had taken this journey, the reasons were different for brothers Bill and Jerry Schlosser. But when Bill told Jerry he was going to do this, it didn’t take long for Jerry to say he was coming with. A message to friends and family from the walk explains their tenacity: “Wandering along at two to three miles per hour for 12 or 13 miles leaves plenty of time to reflect,” wrote Bill. “This day was about the kid, my brother. Jerry was that scrappy little brother who always knew he could do it if I could. I was always Roy Rogers like, and Jerry was the John Wayne kind of guy.” The pair recently completed The Camino de Santiago (the Way of St. James). It is a large network of ancient pilgrim routes stretching across Europe and coming together at the tomb of St. James (Santiago in Spanish) in Santiago de Compostela in northwest Spain. The Way of St. James was an important Christian pilgrimage during the Middle Ages. About 250,000 people walk this trail each year. In fact, the pilgrimage is featured in the 2010 movie “The Way,” written and produced by Emilio Estevez and stars his father, Martin Sheen. Reactions to their decision were mixed, especially for Jerry who had suffered a heart attack last fall. They began walking on August 22, 2016 in Roncesvalles, Spain and arrived in Santiago on September 22. Jerry’s trek was about thanksgiving, giving thanks to God for his wife and family. Bill takes his explanation a bit further. “My faith has been sharpened and deepened into an affirmation that finds me growing closer to the divine,” says Bill. “That’s my mission. Believing I am now on the correct path leaves me to continue traveling it with the intention of contributing to the weave of our family’s spiritual fabric. It’s about a legacy which is kind of like planting a garden that I will never see grow, but the planting is there, left to manifest itself from the seeds sown.” The journey was challenging physically, mentally, and spiritually. The trek is also very social. The two were inspired by the incredible stories of other pilgrims they met from all over the world. “What a marvelous experience that adjoins total strangers to a common purpose, each with their own reasons, that connects us all as brothers and sisters,” says Bill. “I can’t help but think that something is made better by this.” Along the trail they wandered in and out of many rustic villages and larger cities. They were particularly fascinated by the number, beauty, and history of the churches along the route. “The outsides were relatively bland but the insides were exquisite, and ornate, and spectacular in architecture and décor,” says Jerry. “The frescos, the sculptures, the frieze images, the architecture, the statues—so many attempts by man to manifest the glory of God. Each was more inspiring than the last, if that’s possible.” These two real estate business partners, past running partners, and brothers have amassed a wealth of history, knowledge, and love over a lifetime together. This experience has bound them together even tighter. “One picture I took of us was a reflection in the mirror across the room from where we were having dinner,” says Jerry. “This Camino experience was like that mirror reflection—a reflection of our lives together—as children, as business partners, and as brothers. What a great ride!” “He’s right sometimes and wrong others, but it just doesn’t matter. He’s my brother,” says Bill. “An expression I’ve heard is ‘You can’t choose your relatives.’ Well, someone certainly chose the best brother for me.” Although receiving a certificate of accomplishment for completing the Way was satisfying, the incredible growth of mind, body, and spirit—and sense of unity between them—are far greater rewards. Processed with VSCO with g3 preset Jamie Christensen Jamie Christensen is a full-time licensed real estate agent, a communications and marketing professional, wife, and mom. She dreams of traveling, but for now being a taxi driver for her kids will have to do.
Community Contributor: Ruth Meiers – Luke’s Kitchen
Luke Meiers Give us a little history of Ruth Meiers/Luke’s Kitchen Ruth Meiers is more than just a homeless shelter. We provide numerous essential services to the homeless at multiple facilities in the Bismarck-Mandan area. The programs and services offered at Ruth Meiers create a transitional pathway from homelessness to community reintegration, providing services across the continuum to help our clients overcome barriers and access the resources available to them. To further our mission, Ruth Meiers is creating Luke’s Kitchen, an open table with the purpose of engaging those who are struggling, supporting those who need nourishment, and providing the tools and training to impact the lives of many. Luke’s Kitchen is being created in honor of Luke Meiers, a nephew to Ruth Meiers. Luke invested his life in serving those who are homeless, at-risk of becoming homeless, or suffering in our community. Since his passing in 2015, his passion for serving others has been greatly missed. To honor his legacy, and to address a current gap in services in the community, Ruth Meiers is creating Luke’s Kitchen, which will provide a warm noon meal to the community, seven days per week. How is Luke’s Kitchen different from other soup kitchens? Luke’s Kitchen, to be located at our 23rd Street shelter, is not your typical “soup kitchen.” Yes it is an open table where anyone from the community can receive a warm meal, but it also focuses on providing additional services that will promote self-sufficiency. We see Luke’s Kitchen as an opportunity to connect individuals and families in need with the right services and resources to help them overcome barriers. Laundry and shower facilities will be available, as well as a technology room with computers available for job searching, developing resumes, and communicating with family and friends. In addition, case managers will be available to help the homeless and those at risk of homelessness access additional services at Ruth Meiers and at other agencies across the community. Luke’s Kitchen is a first step in the transitional pathway offered at Ruth Meiers, to help the homeless reintegrate into the community and become self-sufficient. How can people contact you? Luke’s Kitchen is expected to open by the end of the year. Information on the exact date of opening will be available on our website: www.ruthmeiers.org. Individuals seeking more information can call Ruth Meiers at 701-222-2108 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Information will be made publicly available as the renovation and implementation progresses. Check back with us regularly, or sign up for our electronic newsletter on our website, to stay aware of the progress and launch time frame. How can people donate? Individuals can donate on our website or by calling Ruth Meiers’ main office at 701-222-2108. You can also mail donations to PO Box 2092 Bismarck ND 58502-2092. What are your needs right now if someone would like to donate? Volunteers: We and our clients rely on members of the community to keep our programs going and our organization thriving. In 2015, Ruth Meiers utilized over 1,100 volunteers that provided more than 4,000 volunteer hours. Luke’s Kitchen will utilize volunteers to help prepare and serve meals each day. Volunteer shifts and schedules will be posted on our website. Anyone interested in volunteering should visit our website to complete a volunteer application. Donations: We are also currently seeking financial and product donations to support Luke’s Kitchen. Financial donations will support the minor renovations required to separate Luke’s Kitchen from the current Men’s Shelter, and to purchase equipment and supplies for the kitchen and technology center. Product donations needed for Luke’s Kitchen include towels, paper products, trash bags, laundry detergent, non-perishable food items, and new or gently-used kitchen supplies. Luke Meiers
Christmas in Wales: An Unexpected Gift
By Carole Hemingway It was December 23, 1988. I boarded a train, alone from Paddington Station, in London, bound for the coast of Wales for the holidays. My friends greeted me at the train station, and whisked me off to a local pub for lunch. The pub was noisy, a large, smoke-filled room with lots of laughter, music, and drinking. Sober 10 years, I opted for hot pots of fresh brewed tea, and told the waiter to keep them coming. Across the mist-filled room, in this very old tavern, sat a handsome woman, about 80 years old, that kept a laser beam stare on me. I finally asked my friends who she might be. Marion answered, “Oh well, yes. She is your father’s third wife.” Before I could put down my scalding cup of tea and form words again, the woman stood up and appeared like a mountain in front of me and said, “You’re his daughter, aren’t you?” I truly felt faint and couldn’t stand up on rubber band legs. When I did rise to shake her hand, I was a bit unsteady. She took my arm, waved to the waiter, who obviously knew her and she pointed to a private room, and a private table by a lead-glass window. We sat down and ordered lunch. She looked at me with those eyes, like beams of light, over her menu. She was a chain smoker, and it was like eating in the middle of a brush fire. Martha Gellhorn stood out, a defiant, strong, determined woman with purpose, though her face looked like an 18-wheeler had run over it, all time-dated, with ongoing character. We had so much to tell each other, to share and we simply bonded that afternoon. Who could eat? If you paid me $100, I couldn’t tell you what I ordered. I couldn’t take my eyes off her, either, all these breathless revelations awaiting us, my answers to her questions, so much to say. After lunch, the long mahogany table was bare except for several ashtrays which Martha made use of. A chair behind another table was occupied by an older gentleman with a long, bony jaw and a bad haircut, his eyes fixed on both of us. I paid little attention to his presence; however, Martha stood up, squinting at me through the smoke from her cigarette. With her hands on her hips, she shouted to the man, across the room, “Bloody hell, can’t you see this is a private conversation?” Without hesitation he got up and disappeared. Later, she explained to me he was one of those “stupid, damned newspaper men” who followed her around. I knew then, she was genuine. Giving an order like that, well, she was my father’s perfect match! The female version of Ernest. She ordered champagne and told me about my father. Things like, “Just at the point when I wanted to kill him he would make me laugh.” As I listened, I really understood “the power of this couple;” too bad they couldn’t share that power, they may have stayed married. I liked her spirit and humanity. She was a breath of fresh air even in the blueness of that smoke-filled room, in a world smothered in superficiality. Even into her 70s and 80s, Martha traveled to El Salvador to cover the brutal war there. I’m surprised her path didn’t cross those of our own Patrick Atkinson! The hours passed; I walked her home, arm in arm, like best friends. She had a sweet little cottage in Wales and an apartment in London. Walking through the door, I could see the private collection of her life and knew instinctively not many were privileged to enter that cottage. I made arrangements for my friends to pick me up at an appointed time, once they arrived in their car, Martha turned and hugged me, closed her eyes, touched the outlines of my face with her unmanicured nails and said in that deep-throated, husky voice, “Don’t ever let anyone tell you, you’re not your father’s daughter. You wear his face which are your credentials.” I knew then, we would always be connected; at that moment I wanted us to prick our thumbs and swear a blood oath. I felt that close to her. I left her cottage with a full heart, who could ask for more? Who thought a charming jaunt to an untouched corner of the world would bring me to this? I pulled at a thread of destiny that afternoon, and spent several joyful hours with Martha Gellhorn. Who gets to do that? Carole Hemingway Carole Hemingway is an internationally regarded author, speaker, and historical researcher. She currently lives along the coast of Maine where she is writing a book about Gettysburg, and waiting to publish another book on her father, Ernest.
Look What She Did: Mandy B. Anderson & Raychel Chumley
Raychel Chumley and Mandy B. Anderson Publishing a book is a pretty big accomplishment, but publishing two books in one year is extra impressive. And it is exactly what the coaches at Big Blue Couch® Coaching have done. Mandy B. Anderson is the author of “She Who Overcomes,” a faith-based account of how God helped her through some tough times in her life, including her battle with cystic fibrosis and a fire that destroyed her family’s home and all their belongings. “It’s about overcoming things in our life, growing into women of integrity, and overcoming the challenges that life brings,” explains Mandy. “It’s a guidebook about how to rise up with grace, courage, and persistence.” Rather than seek out a publisher, Mandy and her business partner, Raychel Chumley, decided to self-publish the book. “It’s been the best way to get the resources to our clients who are asking for them,” explains Mandy. Resources such as Raychel’s book “Unbroken.” “It is my story intermixed with a 30-day guided journal and Bible study for women,” explains Raychel. “It’s really about taking women through a journey of healing, and preparing for the next storm.” Raychel is quick to add that while “Unbroken” is a 30-day Bible study, it’s designed to be used over and over again. “It is more of a ‘lifetime resource’ than a quick fix. We’ve got people who are going through the study for the second or third time already.” Both books are available online at bbcbookstore.com.
Look What She Did: Tina Schumacher
Tina Schumacher Tina Schumacher helps people remember life’s biggest moments in a way no one else in North Dakota does. Tina is the owner and designer of Captured Memories Floral Preservation, a business she started because she wanted to preserve her daughter’s bridal bouquet. Now she is preserving bouquets and other keepsakes inside shadow boxes for dozens of brides each year. “It’s so rewarding for the bride to see her bouquet in the same condition it was when she brought it in,” Tina says. “She can add her garter, jewelry, a photo, and program to the shadow box. Some brides even want to add their bridal shoes or champagne glasses.” Tina says it becomes a piece of art. “It’s not something that’s manufactured over and over, the same piece all the time. Each one is unique and different.” Tina creates the keepsakes from flowers celebrating the birth of babies and from funeral floral sprays, as well. “People have cried when they see the flower that was saved from the funeral of their loved one.” Tina has also started offering thumbprint jewelry, and has trademarked another line of sterling silver jewelry called PetalGems®. “I take two different color flowers and dry the petals, and crush them, and make a gemstone out of them. It’s just another keepsake people are wanting.” Click here to learn more about Captured Memories.
Thrivent Celebrates Women of Generosity: Sister Barbara Weber
By Marci Narum THRIVENT CELEBRATES WOMEN OF GENEROSITY: Sister Barbara Weber Sister Barbara Weber is no fan of needles. So it might surprise you to know where she spends nearly three hours every Wednesday. Sister Barb has a standing appointment at United Blood Services to donate platelets. “It’s never a burden for her,” says Linda Valentine, Donor Relations Specialist. “The fact that she’s saving lives is a pleasure for her. And having her here is a pleasure for us.” Sister Barb has been part of the community for 55 years. So has her heart. She began donating blood in 1968. During the 80s she switched to donating platelets, a process that takes about five times longer than donating whole blood. “It’s my civic donation. I don’t do anything else out in the community,” Sister Barb explains. “I can do this and it helps others right away.” Platelets are tiny blood cells that help the body’s blood form clots. They have a shelf life of only seven days, so donations such as Sister Barb’s are taken to local and state hospitals or flown immediately to other hospitals in United Blood Service’s four-state region, including South Dakota, Montana, and Wyoming. Sister Barb says donating platelets is a sacrifice she believes can result in a greater benefit. “More people can use the platelets. Surgery patients and cancer patients are the biggest recipients,” she says. Sister Barb was a social worker at CHI St. Alexius in Bismarck for 39 years and began serving as a chaplain there in 2005, so she often sees patients who need what she has donated. “When I’m at the hospital I wonder if the blood is mine.” At United Blood Services, the staff never has to wonder if they will see Sister Barb. “She’s here every week,” says Linda. “We make calls every day asking people to come in once every eight weeks. This woman is here every week without ever having to call her.” And her weekly donations have added up—to a number which no one else at the Bismarck donation center can match or even come close to. “She has donated more than 90 gallons,” says Linda. “Do you know how many donation days and times it takes to do 90 gallons?” The answer is 730 visits. And counting. “If that isn’t dedication I don’t know what is,” says Linda. And it’s a lot of needle sticks for someone who is not a fan of them. Sister Barb smiles, “As long as I don’t have to look at the needle I’m okay.”