The Stubborn Window

Windows are good teachers, especially if you can’t get one open. I know. I tried to open a swollen window one hot July evening in Minnesota and got a lesson on thanksgiving instead. Little did I know what a breath of fresh air that would be!

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Photo by Freitas

I can still see myself that night. I’m crabby and in no mood for a fiesta, but I enter the house anyway. If I stay outside, I’ll be attacked by mosquitoes looking for dinner. Or maybe it’s Continue reading “The Stubborn Window”

Tickled to Life!

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I don’t know about you, but all this “dead” talk has me quaking in my boots. From morning till night, we talk dead, our conversations loaded with dying clichés. Sure, they’re expressions of speech, but do these clichés say what you mean and do you mean what they say? Suspense killing you? Then I dead reckon, you’ll read on.

We get up in the morning dead tired, go to our dead-end jobs, and if we aren’t working ourselves to death, then we’re bored to death. And doesn’t quitting time always bring the Continue reading “Tickled to Life!”

For Goodness Snakes!

Snakes give me the creeps—and no wonder. From the day I was baptized and bestowed with a holy medal, I’ve been surrounded by snakes. Not real snakes, mind you, but church snakes. Little snakes. Big snakes. Snakes with red eyes; others with forked tongues. Some snakes even had their tails in the air.

DSC_0160 copyI didn’t know it at the time (I was only two weeks old), but that baptismal medal was my first brush with the serpent. The medal was small and blue, no bigger than a dime. But it was just big enough for a baby blue snake to crawl out from under the baby blue feet of the Blessed Mother.

I didn’t meet another reptile until around age four when I was old enough to attend Sunday Mass. At first, I noticed only a snake here and a snake there. By age six, however, I was Continue reading “For Goodness Snakes!”

Toothpicks for Minnie

Nobody ever dreams of finding love in a toothpick. After all, it’s barely a sliver of wood. But sometimes the simplest things in life teach the biggest lessons. The trouble is nobody knows how or when it will happen. I certainly didn’t.


For years I had ribbed Mother about her habit of leaving toothpicks on window sills in the living room. Whenever I pulled back the curtains, I found toothpicks waiting for anxious teeth. They waited anxiously not at just one window but at nearly every window. Some even waited on the baseboard. I hated Mother’s toothpicks, and her idiosyncrasy began picking away at me.

Until one day, and it goes without saying what happened.

Continue reading “Toothpicks for Minnie”

The Miracle of a Million Pennies

One penny alone isn’t much, but when millions of pennies are gathered together, the miraculous happens. That’s the “penny-nomenal” tale of Dr. Kate Newcomb and the World’s Biggest Penny in Woodruff, Wisconsin.

Dr Kate and World's Biggest Penny
“Angel on Snowshoes” Dr. Kate Newcomb and the World’s Biggest Penny in Woodruff, Wisconsin (Photo courtesy of Dr. Kate Museum)

The story begins in 1931 when Dr. Kate began practicing medicine in Wisconsin’s north woods. Her “clinic” spanned 300 square miles; house calls took her down dirt roads and across lakes in a canoe. When her car got stuck in the deep snow, she trekked by snowshoe to remote cabins to deliver one of more than 3,000 babies by the light of a kerosene lamp. Nothing could stop the “Angel on Snowshoes,” as she fondly came to be known. Continue reading “The Miracle of a Million Pennies”

The Holy Presence


Wherever we go or whatever we do, God is there! He’s in the kitchen when, glassy-eyed, we make the morning coffee. He’s in the hospital delivery room with every new birth. His Holy Presence envelops us during the tearful burial of a loved one. God’s even there when we prepare our taxes. May He help us find another deduction this year!

What would happen if we truly understood what it means to live in God’s Holy Presence? Would we kill others with gossip? Would we snub people because they’re of a different ethnicity? Would we defame the president and vice president? They’re in God’s Holy Presence, too.

If we truly believe that God is omnipresent, we’d shape up fast! Our snide remarks would vanish. We wouldn’t lie or cheat. We wouldn’t abort our babies or exterminate the undesirables. Instead, we’d heal the brokenhearted. We’d kill (make that bless!) others with kindness. We’d flock to church to praise Him!

I want to live in God’s Holy Presence. I only hope that He wants to live with me.

Copyright © Marion Amberg







A POW’s Gift of Peace

A POW Nativity (Photo by Marion Amberg)

It’s a traditional Nativity scene. Christ Child. Angels. Wise men. Shepherds and sheep. What isn’t so traditional is who made it: German POWs incarcerated at Algona, Iowa.

The story begins in 1944 when Sergeant Eduard Kaib was captured in France and shipped to Camp Algona, a base camp in north-central Iowa that housed 3,200 German POWs and oversaw 34 branch camps in Minnesota, Iowa, and the Dakotas.

Suffering from war injuries, Kaib was also mired in depression. He missed deeply his homeland, family, and German religious traditions. One day, the radio operator had a divine idea.

“Sir, I’d like to build a Nativity scene,” Kaib petitioned Camp Commander Arthur T. Lobdell.

Permission was granted, and Kaib and several other POWs began work on the 60-statue Nativity. The half-sized figures were crafted of concrete on wire frames, covered with plaster, then sculpted and painted. Though tools were crude, the “Grandma Moses” Nativity is an artistic marvel—details are incredibly realistic and vivid.

“The sheep’s wool actually resembles wool,” said Wes. H. Bartlett, compiler of A Collection of Memories of the Algona Prisoner of War Camp, about the 30-odd sheep that look woolly enough to be sheared. Continue reading “A POW’s Gift of Peace”

138 Years of Nonstop Prayer!

Looking for a powerhouse of prayer? Come to the Motherhouse of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Beginning on August 1, 1878, at least two adorers have kept vigil before the Blessed Sacrament in the Adoration Chapel. Holy moly! That’s more than 138 years—or 50,511 days—of nonstop prayer!

Adoration Chapel (Courtesy Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration)

Nothing can stop this prayer chain, not even an inferno. On December 2, 1923, when a fire broke out and devoured the west wing of the convent, the good nuns kept on praying. Miraculously, the fire stopped within yards of the chapel and a statue of St. Michael the Archangel. Coincidence? Hardly! Continue reading “138 Years of Nonstop Prayer!”

Holy Land of America!


No passport needed to visit this “Holy Land”–it’s right here in northern New Mexico! Long called the “Holy Land of America,” this land is like no other: inexplicable miracles, a weeping statue, prophecies and revelations, and rock formations that resemble scenes right out of the Bible. But holy doesn’t mean stuffy. Legends never are! Northern New Mexico is blessed with charming stories of Continue reading “Holy Land of America!”