Sunday, March 28, 2010

One Foundation

I just have a 'thing' for churches! I like visiting them, exploring them and taking pictures of them. I hope to feature some of those we visit during our weekly wanderings.

South Lake Johanna Lutheran Church

This quaint wooden structure and its surrounding cemetery are nestled peacefully in an oak woods along County Road 37 in Pope County. Although there was still snow all around the day we visited, it was a beautiful day for a walk. So after we finished a wonderful turkey dinner (and Paul continued visiting, of course), my camera and I took a little walk into the sanctuary, around the grounds and down the lane and I chatted with some of the members as I toured.

Words came to mind during my 'walk about'... natural splendor, simple truth and humble beauty.

On my tour, I learned that the congregation was formed 150 years ago and the first structure lasted 56 years before a fire destroyed it. But the faithful folks of the area found the funds to replace it in 1942. And so it stands today as a sign of the faith, determination and priorities of the people who knew the importance of coming together for regular worship experiences.

As I walked up the hill away from the church, I spied this little 'watch duck,' sitting atop a large wooden fence post, keeping a broken eye on the church in the valley.

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth where rust and moth corrupt or where thieves break in and steal but lay up treasures in heaven where moth and rust does not corrupt and thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is there will your heart be also.
Matthew 6:19-21

Monday, March 15, 2010

A Tasty Cup of Kindness

Last week as I was exploring downtown St. Paul, I found the most unique little restaurant called the "Q Kindness Cafe."

It was 2 in the afternoon. I was weary and tired so I wondered into the cheerful little place and was greeted by a man standing behind the counter who explained that they were closing but that I could have something simple like a pastry or something. I ordered a coffee and a homemade oatmeal raisen cookie to go. After I got my treats, he said, "You know, we'll be around here cleaning up for a while if you'd like to sit down." My feet were hurting from all the walking so I accepted his offer and took a seat on a stool at the bar. They offered me a's free with every purchase.

As I sat there, I asked a couple questions about the name of the cafe and it's origin. The waitress, who turned out to be Lisa the owner, began to tell the story which she had undoubtedly told a million times. As she spoke she wiped counters, swept the floor and absolutely glowed with such an infectious smile and zest for life that I couldn't help but want to know more. It seems that she and her husband started this cafe to serve good food and lots of kindness.

At the Q, they believe in handing out random acts of kindness ....and they do it all the time. Somehow, it always seems to come back to them in some way, shape or form. As we visited, a teenage girl ran in and asked Lisa a question. "We'd love it," Lisa said. And just like that, the girl began to sing...and wow, could she sing!

There's a hero, if you look inside your heart,
You don't have to be afraid of what you are,
There's an answer, If you reach into your soul,
And the sorrow that you know will melt away...

The sound of two people clapping brought a smile to the young girl's face and she sang another song before she went running out the door to get back to class. Lisa explained that there's a charter school for the arts that is housed upstairs from the Q and kids from there drop by all the time to share their talents...and a little kindness.

Up near the counter, there's a large roulette wheel of kindness. All around the wheel, there are names of things you can buy at the cafe. . . a muffin, a cookie, a cup of coffee, etc. and some spaces have things to do written on them --acts of kindness. You spin the wheel and pay for or do whatever it lands on. The agreement is that if you pay for something, the next person to come in and order that item will get it free and you will have performed a random act of kindness. You will probably never know whose day you brightened or how they felt but Lisa assures me that there's a special joy that goes with having given unselfishly of yourself to someone else. "I've seen grown men moved to tears when some kind person pays for their cup of coffee," said Lisa. "It's just heartwarming."

Lisa's a big fan of paying it forward. You know, it's true...when I return a favor, only two people are involved but when I turn around and do something for another person, that's how this whole kindness thing spreads!

Check out their Website:
or become a 'fan' on Facebook: The Q Kindness Cafe.
Lisa is always posting new ways to spread a little joy.

I enjoyed my visit to the little cafe, tucked into the center of the big city. As I left, I saw the little bowl of kindness quotes by the door. I picked one up and it said, "Kindness is infectious...pass it on. And I will!

At the Q Kindness Cafe, the 'Q' stands for 'Quality' ...and 'Kindness' is always on the menu.