Easter kudos for Scheels

scheels_easter_ip_1416I went to Scheels to look at ammunition yesterday and was pleased to find these signs around the store.  It’s nice to see a business which still regards the most important Christmas holiday!  It was actually a thrill to see a regional business stand up to pressure against Christianity in public.  In the future I won’t even consider going to another sporting goods store (especially one that doesn’t even carry handguns, ahem).


scheels_easter_ip_1417The greatest news ever given.  I was elated to see it proclaimed at Scheel’s.  Not only is the company giving its employees to celebrate as they wish, but they’re also proclaiming the good news of the Lord Jesus Christ – good news that I’m willing to bet is enjoyed by the majority of Scheels’ customers.

Thanks again to Scheels and other North Dakota businesses who support people of faith and stand up for what’s right!

A brilliant new feature at the state capitol

capitol_new_star_36168If you’re like me and enjoy taking in the sight of the decorated capitol building each Christmas, then I’m sure you noticed something brilliantly new this year about the decorations.  In fact, it is visible from a long distance away: the new lighting on the stars atop the tower.


capitol_new_star_36181An interesting anecdote about these stars: my best friend’s dad built them and, in an old-school display of awesomeness, airlifted them to the top of the tower with a National Guard helicopter.  This was about 45 years ago.  They have since been touched up with welding to repair corrosion on the tips, had their mounts modified, been updated with different lighting sometime in the 80s, and they now sport some awesome LED light bars.


capitol_new_star_36190Like a nice, white, star-shaped cherry on top.  At a friend’s house on the big hill directly east of the tower, you can still see the stars from a 90 degree angle.  They originally caught my eye from east Century Avenue!  In other words, these stars are extremely visible and make a fantastic accent to the Christmas decoration of the tower windows.

I don’t care if today is the 29th.  Merry Christmas!

My Christmas music playlist for 2015

Charlie-Brown-ChristmasI know, Christmas is so yesterday.  Literally.  But I don’t care, I’m going to continue the Christmas spirit for a while. One of the things I do is to pump Christmas music out on  102.5 FM using an extremely low-power FCC-legal transmitter, allowing me to turn on a radio anywhere on my property and listen to the music playing on my garage computer.  I love Christmas music, and it’s great to be able to have it on in the background wherever I may be when I’m at home.

If you’re into Christmas music, I invite you to peruse this meticulously prepared Christmas playlist.  Clocking in at nine hours and fifty minutes in duration, it’s enough to play throughout the day with nary a repeat.  There are some real gems here, and I have no problem admitting that I’m a little proud of the collection I’ve curated this year.   They appear in no particular order; in fact, I went out of my way to randomize them.

Next year I will have to select a new frequency, as Dakota Media Access will be broadcasting on that frequency.  Now worries, a flip of a few DIP switches and I’ll be happy as a clam on another vacant frequency.  My sincere hope is that some of you take the time to check out some of these songs on iTunes and enjoy them for yourselves in future Christmases.

Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! – Bing Crosby
The Most Wonderful Day Of The Year – Burl Ives
Gabriel’s Message – Sting
Jingle Bells – Count Basie Orchestra
Yabba-Dabba Yuletide (extended) – The Brian Setzer Orchestra
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! – Dean Martin
Deck the Halls – Mannheim Steamroller
Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow – The Andrews Sisters
He Shall Reign Forevermore (Live) – Chris Tomlin
Christmas Candles – The Andrews Sisters
The Little Drummer Boy – Bing Crosby
The Little Drummer Boy – Johnny Cash
Winter Wonderland – The Andrews Sisters
I Wish You a Merry Christmas – Bing Crosby
Sleigh Bells – Gene Autry
All I Want For Christmas Is You – Mariah Carey
Mistletoe & Holly – Robert Davi
Song of the Sleighbells – June Hutton
Silent Night – Jingle Cats
Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) – U2
Peace On Earth / Little Drummer Boy (With Dialogue) – Bing Crosby & David Bowie
Silent Night (1947 Single) – Bing Crosby
Little Jack Frost Get Lost – Frankie Carle and His Orchestra
A Merry Christmas At Grandmother’s (feat. Danny Kaye) – The Andrews Sisters
White Winter Hymnal – Pentatonix
It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year (A Shrift Remix) – Andy Williams
Christmas in Killarney – Bing Crosby
Here Comes Santa Claus [feat. Bing Crosby] – The Andrews Sisters
Christmas Alphabet – The McGuire Sisters
The Little Drummer Boy – Harry Simeone Chorale
Christmas Dreaming – Seth MacFarlane
Look Out the Window – Gene Autry & Rosemary Clooney
Christmas Dinner Country Style – Bing Crosby
You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch – Thurl Ravenscroft
Grandma Got Run over by a Reindeer – Dr. Elmo
Here We Come A-Caroling – The New Christy Minstrels
The Reindeer Boogie – Hank Snow
That’s What Christmas Means to Me – Eddie Fisher
The Things We Did Last Summer – Dean Martin
What Child Is This – Vince Guaraldi Trio
We Need a Little Christmas – Percy Faith
Peppermint Winter – Owl City
Twelve Days of Christmas (feat. Bing Crosby) – The Andrews Sisters
The First Snowfall (feat. Bing Crosby) – The Andrews Sisters
Carol of the Bells – Mannheim Steamroller
Happy Holidays – Percy Faith & His Orchestra and Chorus
O Holy Night – Ray Conniff Singers
Mele Kalikimaka (Merry Christmas) – Bing Crosby & The Andrews Sisters
Santa Claus Meets the Purple People Eater – Sheb Wooley
What God Wants For Christmas – Darius Rucker
It Snowed – Meaghan Smith
When It’s Christmas on the Range – Bob Wills
Santa Claus Is Coming to Town (feat. Bing Crosby) – The Andrews Sisters
Christmas / Sarajevo 12/24 (Instrumental) – Trans-Siberian Orchestra
Christmas on the Plains – Roy Rogers
A Marshmallow World – Dean Martin
Suzy Snowflake – Dale Evans
Come On! Let’s Boogey to the Elf Dance! – Sufjan Stevens
Jingle Bells – Dean Martin
The Christmas Song – Vince Guaraldi Trio
Hark, The Herald Angels Sing – Vince Guaraldi Trio
Nuttin’ for Christmas – Barry Gordon
The Walk – Dickon Hinchliffe
Silent Night – Dean Martin
Sleigh Ride – The Ventures
Away in a Manger – Jeannie C. Riley
I’ll Be Home for Christmas (Single) – Bing Crosby
Star of Wonder – Sufjan Stevens
O Come, O Come – MercyMe
Winter Wonderland – Bing Crosby
It’s Beginning To Look a Lot Like Christmas – Michael Bublé
Silver Bells – Dean Martin
Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree – Brenda Lee
O Fir Tree Dark (feat. Bing Crosby) – The Andrews Sisters
The Littlest Angel – Bing Crosby
Thirty Two Feet, Eight Little Tails – Dale Evans
Christmas the Whole Year Round – Sabrina Carpenter
We Are Santa’s Elves – Burl Ives
Parade of the Wooden Soldiers – The Andrews Sisters
Sleigh Ride – The Andrews Sisters
The Christmas Song – Mel Tormé
Joy to the World – Percy Faith
O Tannenbaum – Naturally 7
Mele Kalikimaka (the Hawaiian Christmas Song) [feat. Bing Crosby] – The Andrews Sisters
Carol of the Bells / Jingle Bells – Barry Manilow
Christmas Island – The Andrews Sisters
Christmas Time Is Here (Instrumental) – Vince Guaraldi Trio
Run Rudolph Run – Bryan Adams
O Holy Night – Sufjan Stevens
Light of Christmas (feat. tobyMac) – Owl City
Christmas Carols by the Old Corral – Tex Ritter
If Santa Could Bring You Back to Me – Jimmy Wakely
Great Pumpkin Waltz – Vince Guaraldi Trio
Old Tex Kringle – Tex Ritter
Here Comes Santa Claus – Gene Autry
Frosty the Snowman – Jimmy Durante
Winter Wonderland – Dean Martin
The Winter Solstice – Sufjan Stevens
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing / It Came Upon a Midnight Clear – Bing Crosby
White Christmas (1947 Single) – Bing Crosby
Jingle Bells (Single) – Bing Crosby & The Andrews Sisters
The Christmas Song (Chestnut Song) – Love Tractor
Humbug – Greg Lake
Peace On Earth / Silent Night – Dean Martin
Winter Wonderland (Bonus Track) – Jason Mraz
Auld Lange Syne – The Lonesome Travelers
Silver And Gold – Burl Ives
Silver Bells – Margaret Whiting & Jimmy Wakely
Christmastime Again – MercyMe
Where Did My Snowman Go? – Gene Autry
Christmas Medley (Music from the Videocraft TV Musical Spectacular) – Burl Ives
Frosty the Snowman – Bing Crosby
What a Glorious Night – Sidewalk Prophets
Angels We Have Heard On High – Aretha Franklin
Christmas As I Knew It – Johnny Cash
Pat-A-Pan / While Shepherds Watched Their Flock – Bing Crosby
I Saw Three Ships – Sting
Für Elise – Vince Guaraldi Trio
White Christmas – Dean Martin
I’d Like to Hitch a Ride With Santa Claus – The Andrews Sisters
The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late) – David Seville & The Chipmunks
Jingle Bells – The Singing Dogs
The Twelve Days of Christmas – Mitch Miller & The Gang
I’ll Be Home for Christmas – Dean Martin
Poppa Santa Claus (feat. Bing Crosby) – The Andrews Sisters
O Holy Night – John Williams & Chorus
Jing-a-Ling, Jing-a-Ling – The Andrews Sisters
Silent Night – Eddy Raven
December Prayer – Idina Menzel
Blue Christmas – Dean Martin
Skating – Vince Guaraldi Trio
Santa Claus Is Coming to Town (Single) – Bing Crosby & The Andrews Sisters
Faith of Our Fathers (Single) – Bing Crosby
Jingle Jingle Jingle – Burl Ives
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas – Bing Crosby
Only at Christmas Time – Sufjan Stevens
Blue Snowflakes – Ernest Tubb
The Closing Of The Year (Reprise) – Happy Workers (“Toys” Soundtrack)
Up On the Housetop – Gene Autry
Jangle Bells – Love Tractor
My Little Drum – Vince Guaraldi Trio
May the Good Lord Bless and Keep You (feat. Bing Crosby & Nat “King” Cole) – The Andrews Sisters
Joy to the World – Jeannie C. Riley
It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas – Bing Crosby
Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer – Gene Autry
Happy Holiday (Beef Wellington Remix) – Bing Crosby
What Child Is This? / The Holly and the Ivy – Bing Crosby
O Tannenbaum – Vince Guaraldi Trio
What Child Is This (Greensleeves) – Lorie Line & Robert Robinson
Do You Hear What I Hear? – Bing Crosby
Looks Like a Cold, Cold Winter (feat. Bing Crosby) – The Andrews Sisters
Little Donkey – Beverly Sisters
Winter Wonderland (feat. Perry Como) – The Andrews Sisters
All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth (feat. Danny Kaye) – The Andrews Sisters
It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year – Andy Williams
Snow Snow Snow – Band of Merrymakers
Santa’s Beard – The Beach Boys
You’re All I Want for Christmas (feat. Bing Crosby) – The Andrews Sisters
Christmas in Killarney (feat. Bing Crosby) – The Andrews Sisters
Silver Bells (Single) – Bing Crosby & Carole Richards
Jingle Bells (feat. Bing Crosby) – The Andrews Sisters
Thanksgiving Theme – Vince Guaraldi Trio
Snoopy’s Christmas – Royal Guardsmen
Chiron Beta Prime – Jonathan Coulton
Sleigh Ride – The Ronettes
Jingle Bell Rock – Brenda Lee
Somewhere in My Memory (Chorus & Orchestra Version) – John Williams
White Christmas – The Drifters
O Holy Night – Lorie Line & Robert Robinson
Is Christmas Only a Tree (feat. Bing Crosby) – The Andrews Sisters
Christmas Is Coming – Vince Guaraldi Trio
Merry Christmas Polka – Tex Ritter
Very Merry Christmas – Dave Barnes
Overture and A Holly Jolly Christmas – Burl Ives
Track Meet – Vince Guaraldi Trio
Christmas Candles (feat. Curt Massey) – The Andrews Sisters
It’s Christmas (Medley) [Live] – Chris Tomlin
Joy to the World – Mannheim Steamroller
Hallelujah (Remix) [Bonus Track] – Mannheim Steamroller
I Pray On Christmas – Harry Connick Jr.
Jingle Bells – Band of Merrymakers
Winter Wonderland (Christian Prommer Remix) – Shirley Horn
Blue Christmas – Ernest Tubb
Snow (From White Christmas) – Seth MacFarlane
Adeste Fideles (1942 Single) – Bing Crosby
Little Saint Nick (Single Version) – The Beach Boys
Greensleeves – Vince Guaraldi Trio
Wonderful Christmas Night – Roy Rogers & Dale Evans
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen (Single) – Bing Crosby
Christmas Candy – Margaret Whiting & Jimmy Wakely
O Holy Night – Bing Crosby
My Everything – Owl City
Angels We Have Heard on High – Sufjan Stevens
The Merry Christmas Polka – The Andrews Sisters
The Star Carol – Simon & Garfunkel
The Christmas Tree Angel – The Andrews Sisters
Be a Child at Christmas Time – Doris Day
Last Christmas (Studio Version) – Jimmy Eat World
Frosty the Snowman – Gene Autry
Happy Holiday (feat. Bing Crosby) – The Andrews Sisters

2015: the first “non-organic” Christmas tree at the Capitol

capitol_fake_tree_36123-5_hdrHere she is: the 2015 Christmas tree in the Capitol’s Memorial Hall. I wrote earlier about its assembly as the first artificial tree in Memorial Hall.  You may have heard about it a day or two later from one of the mainstream media stations/publications that follow my Twitter feed.


capitol_fake_tree_36131It’s a biggun, too.  Whereas previous trees were in the 24 foot range, this looks considerably taller.  In fact, as you can tell from the photo above, I couldn’t even take its photo from my usual location:


capitol_tree_32410This is how I would photograph previous trees, but this new one is so tall that the hanging light fixture completely obscures several feet of the tree top.


_MG_36149See what I mean?  That’s why I had to take the photo from an angle this year to get a pleasing perspective of the tree.  That’s okay, I get more windows (and the candle-shaped light in the windows) that way.


capitol_fake_tree_36135-7_hdrNo room for presents underneath, although that’s probably never been an issue.  While I’m extremely disappointed that we won’t have real trees again, this “tree” does have two redeeming features.  The first is that since it isn’t a fire hazard they can hang electrical lights on it.  In fact, the post I referenced earlier shows that the branches come with LED lights already affixed.  The other is that it has a LOT of real estate for the donated ornaments that come in from North Dakotans via the ND Council On the Arts.

So, this is what change looks like.  Again, as a matter of general principle I prefer a real tree.  But this artificial one is not without its merits.  Since it doesn’t change from year to year, I probably won’t be back next Christmas to photograph it.  I might see if there are any individual ornaments that catch my eye, and share photos of those, but other than that the Christmas tree will be on repeat in future Christmases.

Merry Christmas!

The four most important words you’ll hear this Christmas

Hark the herald angels sing,
Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled.

One ubiquitous Christmas holiday phrase is “Peace on Earth.” As the hymn above shows, that is entirely appropriate; however, we tend to assign an earthly context to it by mistake. It’s not about peace between men at all; rather, it means peace between men and God. Those four most important words I alluded to in the title are the last four in the verse above: “God and sinners reconciled.” That is the source of peace on earth.

“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” (Luke 2:13-14)

That peace and good will didn’t transmit from man to man; it came from God to all men. Since the fall of Adam, that peace between God and men did not exist. By giving the gift of His son, however, God was offering that peace and good will to men once again:

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)

There’s your peace…

“Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.” (Romans 5:18)

Repeatedly in the Old and New Testaments, the Bible reminds us that “there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” Romans 3:23 points out that “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” We need as Savior, one whose birth we celebrate each Christmas. As the angel told Joseph:

“Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:20)

This was the Savior foretold by the prophets. For example:

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)

God’s desire is to restore that fellowship and peace, reconciling (see those four important words once again) us to Him through his Son:

“For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled…”

If you’ve read this blog for a while, you know that I believe what Jesus says in the Bible: “you must be born again.” He means that in order to be forgiven and assured a place in heaven, you must put your faith and trust in Him. We can not do anything to assuage the sin that we carry in our lives; only He can.

By placing your belief and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ to forgive your sins, acknowledging that He made the only sufficient sacrifice for them on the cross, you can be saved. Only then will you be able to truly partake in that “peace on earth” that the angel of the Lord spoke of when declaring good news to those shepherds.

I love the spirit of Christmas as much as, if not more than, the next guy… but the joy, the spirit, the family time, the celebrations, the lights, the gifts… those are all simply a by-product and a shadow of the joy that God extends to each and every person through His son, the one through whom we enjoy unspeakable joy and peace each Christmas and throughout the year.

I always knew that this would happen, but I was hoping not today

capitol_tree_32410Ladies and Gentlemen, it is with sadness that I announce this unfortunate news: the 2014 Christmas tree (pictured above) adorning the capitol’s Memorial Hall is the last live tree I will ever be able to photograph for you.  Starting today, the tree will be an artificial tree purchased for Christmas 2015.  Fire code dictates that they can no longer do a live tree, and let’s face it – North Dakota has already had one capitol burn down, and they’d like to avoid another.

I eagerly await the tree each year, and I took great pleasure in this post which shows how they brought the monstrous live tree into the building each year.  But the magic is gone, sorta.  After catching word that this year’s tree would be an artificial one, I decided to juice up on cold medicine, climb off the couch, and go visit the capitol.  I went at 5:00 before the doors were locked, hoping to get a glimpse of the new tree.  When I arrived, the assembly was just beginning.  Here’s how it happens now:


2015_capitol_tree_36003The tree is assembled in sections.  The wide bottom parts are large curved metal pieces with electrical wiring attached for lights.  One good part about this tree is that it will contain lights, something that was an absolutely no-no with the live trees.


2015_capitol_tree_36019A ladder is used to help in assembly, but the tree is intentionally designed to support the weight of people climbing it to complete the task and attach all the various accoutrements.  That’s good, because it is MUCH taller than the ladder.


2015_capitol_tree_36039Once they get to the narrower parts of the tree, it is no longer quite as sectional.  These hoops and point represent the top four sections.


2015_capitol_tree_36008These make up the foliage, which is designed to look like some specific kind of fir tree I forgot to mention.  And yes, they go in very specific locations just like your tree at home.


2015_capitol_tree_36009All lined up and ready to attach.  I was sick today, so I didn’t hang out to watch the foliage be attached.  I’ll probably check it out in the morning if I’m feeling better.


2015_capitol_tree_36023These are already pre-wired with pretty warm-white LED bulbs, something I already mentioned that was verboten on the old trees.  They look really nice and are going to be very bright once the pieces are all combined.


2015_capitol_tree_36012One of the things that makes the tree so special each year isn’t changing one bit: the decorations made by North Dakotans through the ND Council On the Arts.  They await in these bins, ready to adorn the new tree.


2015_capitol_tree_36072Here the guys get the top of the tree ready to mount.  It’s so high that they need to do this before they take it to the top of the tree. This tree is significantly taller than trees in the past.

The crew was working into the night to finish the tree when I bolted back home to my couch and some Theraflu to continue my recovery from the crud that’s going around.  I’m not going to try to get a photo of it until after all the decorations are attached, which is scheduled for tomorrow (Tuesday, December first).

It’s sad that we can’t have a real tree, but the Facilities Management folks did a lot of research before choosing just the right artificial tree for the Memorial Hall (subject to the procurement process, of course).  They understand the personal connection that North Dakotans have to the capitol Christmas display.  It isn’t their fault that there won’t be any more real trees, as it’s fire code that has finally ruled out.

One could be cranky about this, but I choose instead to appreciate the work that is put into decorating the capitol each year so North Dakotans can enjoy the season at our favorite local landmark.  I humbly suggest you do the same.

A brief missive on Thankfulness

I was pondering thankfulness today, which is nothing new. Given the calamities of our little family over the past couple of years, and the way in which God has brought us through our trials, I think on thankfulness daily. Anyway, I put those thoughts into a little graphic I hope you’ll share.

thankfulness_18409I know the font is cliche’, but aren’t these inspirational pieces supposed to have corny font?

Happy Thanksgiving!  Let gratitude and humility be our theme every day of the year.

Presidents before “44” used today to thank God for His provision

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing objectionable about the Preezy’s 2015 Thanksgiving Day Proclamation.  It would be nice if it mentioned God, though.  The only mention He received this year was within quotes from George Washington’s original Proclamation.  While there’s plenty of mention of gratitude and thanksgiving, the Lord is left out.  In doing so, this Proclamation misses the point altogether.  Gratitude, appreciation, community, togetherness…I maintain that those should be part of every day, as should thanks to our Creator.  But if we’re going to have a formal holiday centered around giving of thanks, those thanks should be directed heavenward.


For context, here are a few important Thanksgiving proclamations from the past:

The First Thanksgiving Proclamation: June 20, 1676
The Holy God having by a long and Continual Series of his Afflictive dispensations in and by the present Warr with the Heathen Natives of this land, written and brought to pass bitter things against his own Covenant people in this wilderness, yet so that we evidently discern that in the midst of his judgements he hath remembered mercy, having remembered his Footstool in the day of his sore displeasure against us for our sins, with many singular Intimations of his Fatherly Compassion, and regard; reserving many of our Towns from Desolation Threatened, and attempted by the Enemy, and giving us especially of late with many of our Confederates many signal Advantages against them, without such Disadvantage to ourselves as formerly we have been sensible of, if it be the Lord’s mercy that we are not consumed, It certainly bespeaks our positive Thankfulness, when our Enemies are in any measure disappointed or destroyed; and fearing the Lord should take notice under so many Intimations of his returning mercy, we should be found an Insensible people, as not standing before Him with Thanksgiving, as well as lading him with our Complaints in the time of pressing Afflictions:

The Council has thought meet to appoint and set apart the 29th day of this instant June, as a day of Solemn Thanksgiving and praise to God for such his Goodness and Favour, many Particulars of which mercy might be Instanced, but we doubt not those who are sensible of God’s Afflictions, have been as diligent to espy him returning to us; and that the Lord may behold us as a People offering Praise and thereby glorifying Him; the Council doth commend it to the Respective Ministers, Elders and people of this Jurisdiction; Solemnly and seriously to keep the same Beseeching that being persuaded by the mercies of God we may all, even this whole people offer up our bodies and souls as a living and acceptable Service unto God by Jesus Christ.

By the Governing council of Charlestown, Massachusetts

First Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamation – George Washington, 1789
By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor– and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be– That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks–for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation–for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war–for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed–for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted–for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

and also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions– to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually–to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed–to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord–To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us–and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

George Washington

1863 Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamation
The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful years and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the Source from which they come, others have been added which are of so extraordinary a nature that they can not fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God.

In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign states to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict, while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the field of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plow, the shuttle, or the ship; the ax has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than theretofore. Population has steadily increased notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the battlefield, and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.

In testimony wherof I have herunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

(Signed)Abraham Lincoln

1877 Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamation
The completed circle of summer and winter, seedtime and harvest, has brought us to the accustomed season at which a religious people celebrates with praise and thanksgiving the enduring mercy of Almighty God. This devout and public confession of the constant dependence of man upon the divine favor for all the goodgifts of life and health and peace and happiness, so early in our history made the habit of our people, finds in the survey of the past year new grounds for its joyful and grateful manifestation.

In all the blessings which depend upon benignant seasons, this has indeed been a memorable year. Over the wide territory of our country, with all its diversity of soil and climate and products, the earth has yielded a bountiful return to the labor of the husbandman. The health of the people has been blighted by no prevalent or widespread diseases. No great disasters of shipwreck upon our coasts or to our commerce on the seas have brought loss and hardship to merchants or mariners and clouded the happiness of the community with sympathetic sorrow.

In all that concerns our strength and peace and greatness as a nation; in all that touches the permanence and security of our Government and the beneficent institutions on which it rests; in all that affects the character and dispositions of our people and tests our capacity to enjoy and uphold the equal and free condition of society, now permanent and universal throughout the land, the experience of the last year is conspicuously marked by the protecting providence of God and is full of promise and hope for the coming generations.

Under a sense of these infinite obligations to the Great Ruler of Times and Seasons and Events, let us humbly ascribe it to our own faults and frailties if in any degree that perfect concord and happiness, peace and justice, which such great mercies should diffuse through the hearts and lives of our people do not altogether and always and everywhere prevail. Let us with one spirit and with one voice lift up praise and thanksgiving to God for His manifold goodness to our land, His manifest care for our nation.

Now, therefore, I, Rutherford B. Hayes, President of the United States, do appoint Thursday, the 29th day of November next, as a day of national thanksgiving and prayer; and I earnestly recommend that, withdrawing themselves from secular cares and labors, the people of the United States do meet together on that day in their respective places of worship, there to give thanks and praise to Almighty God for His mercies and to devoutly beseech their continuance.

(signed)R.B. HAYES

1987 Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamation
Thanksgiving Day is one of our most beloved holidays, an occasion set aside by Americans from earliest times to thank our Maker prayerfully and humbly for the blessings and the care He bestows on us and on our beautiful, bountiful land. Through the decades, through the centuries, in log cabins, country churches, cathedrals, homes, and halls, the American people have paused to give thanks to God, in time of peace and plenty or of danger and distress.

Acknowledgment of dependence on God’s favor was, in fact, our fledgling Nation’s very first order of business. When the delegates to the First Continental Congress met in Philadelphia in 1774, they overcame discord by uniting in prayer for our country. Despite the differences among them as they began their work, they found common voice in the 35th Psalm, which concludes with a verse of joyous gratitude, “And my tongue shall speak of thy righteousness and of they praise all the day long.”

This year, of course, our Thanksgiving Day celebration coincides with the Bicentennial of the Constitution. In 1789 the government established by that great charter of freedom, and “the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed,” were cited by George Washington in the first Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamation as among “the great and various favors” conferred upon us by the Lord and Ruler of Nations. As we thank the God our first President called “that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be,” we have even greater cause for gratitude than the fresh triumphs that inspired Washington’s prose. We have seen the splendor of our natural resource spread across the tables of the world, and we have seen the splendor of freedom cursing with new vigor through the channels of history. The cause for which we give thanks, for which so many of our citizens through the years have given their lies, has endured 200 years – a blessing to us and a light to all mankind.

On Thanksgiving Day, 1987, let us, in this unbroken chain of observance, dedicate ourselves to honor anew the Author of Liberty and to publicly acknowledge our debt to all those who have sacrificed so much in our behalf. May our gratitude always be coupled with petitions for divine guidance and protection for our Nation and with ready help for our neighbors in time of need.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, RONALD REAGAN, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 26, 1987, as a National Day of Thanksgiving, and I call upon the citizens of this great Nation to gather together in homes and places of worship on that day of thanks to affirm by their prayers and their gratitude the many blessings God has bestowed upon us.


1989 Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamation
On Thanksgiving Day, we Americans pause as a Nation to give thanks for the freedom and prosperity with which we have been blessed by our Creator. Like the pilgrims who first settled in this land, we offer praise to God for His goodness and generosity and rededicate ourselves to lives of service and virtue in His sight.

This annual observance of Thanksgiving was a cherished American tradition even before our first President, George Washington, issued the first Presidential Thanksgiving proclamation in 1789. In his first Inaugural Address, President Washington observed that “No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States.” He noted that the American people – blessed with victory in their fight for Independence and with an abundance of crops in their fields – owed God “some return of pious gratitude.” Later, in a confidential note to his close advisor, James Madison, he asked “should the sense of the Senate be taken on … a day of Thanksgiving?” George Washington thus led the way to a Joint Resolution of Congress requesting the President to set aside “a day of public Thanksgiving and Prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal Favors of Almighty God.”

Through the eloquent words of President Washington’s initial Thanksgiving proclamation – the first under the Constitution – we are reminded of our dependence upon our Heavenly Father and of the debt of gratitude we owe to Him. “It is the Duty of all Nations,” wrote Washington, “to acknowledge the Providence of almighty God, to obey his Will, to be grateful for his Benefits, and humbly to implore His Protection and Favor.”

President Washington asked that on Thanksgiving Day the people of the United States:

“unite in rendering unto [God] our sincere and humble Thanks for his kind Care and Protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation; for … the great degree of Tranquility, Union and Plenty which we have since enjoyed; for … the civil and religious Liberty with which we are blessed, and … for all the great and various Favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.”

Two hundred years later, we continue to offer thanks to the Almighty – not only for the material prosperity that our Nation enjoys, but also for the blessings of peace and freedom. Our Nation has no greater treasures than these.
As we pause to acknowledge the kindnesses God has shown to us – and, indeed, His gift of life itself – we do so in a spirit of humility as well as gratitude. When the United States was still a fledgling democracy, President Washington asked the American people to unite in prayer to the “great Lord and ruler of Nations,” in order to:

“beseech him to pardon our national and other Transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private Stations, to perform our several and relative Duties properly and punctually; to render our national Government a blessing to all the People, by constantly being a Government of wise, just and constitutional Laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations … and to bless them with good Government, peace and Concord.”

Today, we, too, pause on Thanksgiving with humble and contrite hearts, mindful of God’s mercy and forgiveness and of our continued need for His protection and guidance. On this day, we also remember that one gives praise to God not only through prayers of thanksgiving, but also through obedience to His commandments and service to others, especially those less fortunate than ourselves.

While some Presidents followed Washington’s precedent, and some State Governors did as well, President Lincoln – despite being faced with the dark specter of civil war – renewed the practice of proclaiming a national day of Thanksgiving. This venerable tradition has been sustained by every President since then, in times of strife as well as times of peace and prosperity.

Today, we continue to offer thanks and praise to our Creator, that “Great Author of every public and private good,” for the many blessings He has bestowed upon us. In so doing, we recall the timeless words of the 100th Psalm:

“Serve the Lord with gladness: come before His presence with singing.
Know ye that the Lord He is God: it is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise: be thankful unto Him, and bless His name.
For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting; and His truth endureth to all generations.”

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE BUSH, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 23, 1989, as a National Day of Thanksgiving, and I call upon the American people to gather together in homes and places of worship on that day of thanks to affirm by their prayers and their gratitude the many blessings God has bestowed upon us and our Nation.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this seventeenth day of November, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eighty-nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and fourteenth.


2007 Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamation
Americans are a grateful people, ever mindful of the many ways we have been blessed. On Thanksgiving Day, we lift our hearts in gratitude for the freedoms we enjoy, the people we love, and the gifts of our prosperous land.

Our country was founded by men and women who realized their dependence on God and were humbled by His providence and grace. The early explorers and settlers who arrived in this land gave thanks for God’s protection and for the extraordinary natural abundance they found. Since the first National Day of Thanksgiving was proclaimed by President George Washington, Americans have come together to offer thanks for our many blessings. We recall the great privilege it is to live in a land where freedom is the right of every person and where all can pursue their dreams. We express our deep appreciation for the sacrifices of the honorable men and women in uniform who defend liberty. As they work to advance the cause of freedom, our Nation keeps these brave individuals and their families in our thoughts, and we pray for their safe return.

While Thanksgiving is a time to gather in a spirit of gratitude with family, friends, and neighbors, it is also an opportunity to serve others and to share our blessings with those in need. By answering the universal call to love a neighbor as we want to be loved ourselves, we make our Nation a more hopeful and caring place.

This Thanksgiving, may we reflect upon the past year with gratefulness and look toward the future with hope. Let us give thanks for all we have been given and ask God to continue to bless our families and our Nation.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 22, 2007, as a National Day of Thanksgiving. I encourage all Americans to gather together in their homes and places of worship with family, friends, and loved ones to reinforce the ties that bind us and give thanks for the freedoms and many blessings we enjoy.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this fifteenth day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand seven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-second.

(signed)GEORGE W. BUSH

Resurrection Day 2015

not_my_will_33573I caught this photo just after sunrise Saturday morning, and I think it’s rather appropriate for Resurrection Sunday.  This is the day Jesus made good on His mission to atone for the sins of the world.  No other person in history could have made that sacrifice on our behalf, providing a way for us to get to Heaven to join a sinless God who so loved a world full of sinners.

As I decompress from having to defend the faith upon which our nation was founded, a la SB2279, I feel it’s very important to point out one thing: these deviant sexual behaviors, while certainly sin, are no worse than any other sin.  Yes, that’s right.  In 21st century terms, sin is digital.  It’s a 1 or a 0, and NO sin can enter heaven.

The Bible points out that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”  That’s why we need a savior, and today’s the day we celebrate that selfless act He performed on our behalf.


Gettin’ its good side

capitol_2015_32601This morning I posted how I prefer to take photos of the capitol windows in the morning rather than at night.  Even so, I came out tonight to chase some more photos of the tower with 2015 in the windows.  January 2nd is a weekday, and the people working in the capitol don’t get it off, so I think the numbers will be gone tomorrow.  Fortunately, the low cloud cover bounced and diffused the city light to give a similar effect.

Having tackled the lighting issue in the morning and at night, I thought I would point out something that will have make your capitol photos stand out from the typical:  the capitol’s best side is not its front side.


capitol_2015_32588This is my favorite angle of all: from the northwest corner.  This has actually gotten simultaneously easier and harder with all the construction going on in the area.  When they put in the new parking lot in the northwest area a year or two ago, that provided a nice angle no longer obstructed by a row of trees.  The recent renovation and reconfiguration of the north parking lot has put a lot of really bright lights in the way.  Thankfully I was able to find an angle that avoided most of them and their glare, providing the only clean angle you can get of both the tower and the legislative wing.  I don’t even mind that the front steps and Memorial Hall are absent from this photo.


capitol_2015_32616This one requires a short hike from Divide Avenue, but it’s worth it.  You get two unobstructed sides of the tower with trees in the foreground.


These are two of my favorite views of the capitol.  The view from the bottom of the mall is so cliche’ at this point, the view from the southeast is full of those pesky streetlights, and the view from the southwest makes getting the whole legislative wing nearly impossible.  It was fun working the angles and listening to a podcast tonight, watching all the people driving through the grounds and snapping quick cell phone photos.  It occurred to me that perhaps my favorite part of the capitol window displays isn’t the displays themselves, but the enthusiasm so many North Dakotans have for them.