Good morning, and around Spring arises! Kris spotted a Bufflehead yesterday on our walk, the first of the year. I was identifying a merganser when a little buffle emerged from under the bridge. Spring is here. It’s official.


The world is made up of all kinds of adorable animal friendships. But perhaps one of our favorites happens to be Heidy and Loulou.

Heidy is a Bernese Mountain Dog, and her best friend happens to be an adorable little otter named Loulou. In a very precious video, the two are seen playing together and it just melts our hearts!

Their behavior in the video is pretty standard of their friendship. Heidy and Loulou love to play around and chase one another – that is until Loulou has had her fill and jumps back into the river.

But she’s never gone long. The little otter was adopted by Maxime Descoteaux way back in 2010 after she was found orphaned as a baby following a flood in the local area.

100 and not retiring any time soon:

NORTH HUNTINGDON, Penn. -- A McDonald's employee in Pennsylvania is turning 100 next week -- and has no plans to retire anytime soon.

Ruthie Shuster, who works at the franchise's location in the Pittsburgh suburb of North Huntingdon, serves up more than food on the go.

She's offering smiles and even the occasional performance.

"On Fridays, about 30 come, and we all sing," she said.

This soon-to-be 100-year-old is easily the restaurant's most popular employee.

"I became a widow when I was 50. I've been working ever, ever, ever since. And I like working," Shuster said.

During the pandemic, Shuster said she missed the crowds that she would greet at work and after work activities.

"I would go dancing four days a week. You can't go dancing nowhere -- there's no dances around," she said.

But she's still finding ways to connect with others and received a massive flood of birthday cards.

With so many birthday wishes, the company had installed her own mailbox on site.

Nice find!

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Talk about your yard sale finds. A small porcelain bowl bought for $35 at a Connecticut yard sale turned out to be a rare, 15th century Chinese artifact worth between $300,000 and $500,000 that is about to go up for auction at Sotheby’s.

The white bowl adorned with cobalt blue paintings of flowers and other designs is about 6 inches in diameter. An antiques enthusiast came across the piece and thought it could be something special when browsing a yard sale in the New Haven area last year, according to Sotheby’s.

The piece, one of only seven such bowls known to exist in the world, will be up for auction in New York on March 17 as part of Sotheby’s Auction of Important Chinese Art.

The buyer, whom is not being named, paid the $35 asking price and later emailed information and photos to Sotheby’s asking for an evaluation. The auction house’s experts on Chinese ceramics and art, Angela McAteer and Hang Yin, get many such emails every week, but this was one of the kind they dream about.

“It was immediately apparent to both of us that we were looking at something really very, very special,” said McAteer, Sotheby’s senior vice president and head of its Chinese Works of Art Department. “The style of painting, the shape of the bowl, even just the color of the blue is quite characteristic of that early, early 15th century period of porcelain.”

Why go to seminary?

Many pastors today believe that a seminary education is not necessary for them to be effective in their ministry. Many churches do not require that their pastors have a seminary degree when they extend an invitation to them to lead the church’s ministry.

Without a seminary education, most pastors will never study church history or Christian ethics, systematic theology or Hebrew and Greek. Although these courses are not required for an effective ministry, a knowledge of these subjects will enrich sermon preparation, will serve as a strong foundation for biblical teaching, and will contribute to the theological education of those under the ministry of the pastor.

It is true that one may not need a seminary education to be a successful pastor. My first pastor did not have a college degree and yet, he was a good pastor, a good preacher, and a man of prayer but he was not very strong theologically. When God called me to the ministry, I immediately decided to go to seminary. I also decided to major in Old Testament because the Old Testament was seldom preached from the pulpit.

Pastors and ministers should attend seminary because they have sensed the hand of God in their lives and because they have heard the voice of God calling them to minister to God’s people . The ministry is not just a traditional job, a career among many careers. The ministry is a vocation and only those who have felt the sense of divine call to this vocation belong in the ministry.

Another reason pastors and ministers should attend seminary is because they want to be obedient to the call of God. The ministry is a call to obedience. God has given a mission to each Christian and those who decide to go to seminary do so in order to prepare themselves to fulfill the special mission which they received from God. Billy Graham once said that the call to the ministry is a call to preparation. Jesus took three years preparing his twelve disciples to fulfill the Great Commission.

Covid un-honor roll.

Elesha Coffman about Margaret Mead:

When Tim Larsen invited me to write on Margaret Mead for the Oxford Spiritual Lives series, the first thing I did was look Mead up on Google. The name rang no bells for me. If I had been a bit older, though, and more aware of the 1980s culture wars, I probably would have been shocked by Larsen’s suggestion. You mean, that sex-crazed anthropologist who couldn’t stay married? Surely Christians have nothing to learn from her!

Actually, Christians have a lot to learn from this woman who chose, against the wishes of her non-religious parents, to be baptized into the Episcopal Church at age 11. She subsequently taught Sunday school and led the Episcopal student group at Columbia, where she earned her PhD. The chapel at Columbia was so important to her that, years later, she wrote a report, “On Sacred Places,” arguing that it must be kept as a sanctuary, “a place in which judgment is suspended while caritas reigns, as well as a place where values can be tested.”

Pompeii chariot:

MILAN (AP) — Officials at the Pompeii archaeological site in Italy announced Saturday the discovery of an intact ceremonial chariot, one of several important discoveries made in the same area outside the park near Naples following an investigation into an illegal dig.

The chariot, with its iron elements, bronze decorations and mineralized wooden remains, was found in the ruins of a settlement north of Pompeii, beyond the walls of the ancient city, parked in the portico of a stable where the remains of three horses previously were discovered.

The Archaeological Park of Pompeii called the chariot “an exceptional discovery” and said “it represents a unique find – which has no parallel in Italy thus far – in an excellent state of preservation.”

The eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD destroyed Pompeii. The chariot was spared when the walls and roof of the structure it was in collapsed, and also survived looting by modern-day antiquities thieves, who had dug tunnels through to the site, grazing but not damaging the four-wheeled cart, according to park officials.

QAnon and Evangelicals:

QAnon revolves around the baseless belief that former President Donald Trump is fighting a secret war against a global cabal of Democratic elites who are Satan-worshipping, cannibalistic pedophiles. Much of the lore comes from online posts, called “drops,” written by an anonymous person known as “Q” who claims to have insider knowledge. As the QAnon movement has become more culturally significant — QAnon believers were among those who took part in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol building — surveys have attempted to identify just how many Americans believe in this conspiracy. While that picture is still murky, it’s become increasingly apparent that this movement has attracted a significant number of white evangelical Christians, which could have implications for the movement’s future. Evangelicals, after all, played an important role in shoring up the Tea Party’s growth and influence.

In its January 2021 American Perspectives Survey, the American Enterprise Institute’s Survey Center on American Life asked a random sample of more than 2,000 Americans to rate the accuracy of a series of statements. One of those statements was about the core tenet of QAnon: “Donald Trump has been secretly fighting a group of child sex traffickers that include prominent Democrats and Hollywood elites.” Of the respondents who rated that statement as “mostly” or “completely” accurate, 27 percent were white evangelical Christians. Depending on how you define it, evangelical Christians make up about a quarter or less of the U.S. population, so they’re at least slightly overrepresented in the QAnon contingent. Looking at the data another way, 31 percent of white evangelical Republicans rated the statement as “mostly” or “completely” accurate. Either way you slice it, there’s significant overlap between Q followers and evangelicals.

Another survey, conducted in October 2020 by Denison University political science professor Paul Djupe and colleagues, looked at a representative sample of more than 1,700 Americans and found that 50 percent of white evangelical Christians either “agreed” or “strongly agreed” with QAnon beliefs. Comparative surveys have also shown a correlation between Christian nationalism and conspiratorial thinking, specifically a belief in QAnon. And it’s something members of the church have been sounding the alarm about for months.

What would QAnon think of Oregonians doing this?

CLACKAMAS COUNTY, Ore. (KOIN) — Known for their passion for environmentally-friendly pursuits such as recycling, Oregonians could take those commitments to the grave if state lawmakers pass a bill allowing human composting as an alternative to traditional burial or cremation.

House bill 2574, sponsored by representatives Pam Marsh and Brian L. Clem, would allow bodies to be disposed of by alternative processes, including natural organic reduction — colloquially known as human composting. It also clarifies rules surrounding alkaline hydrolysis, known as aqua cremation, and extends other funeral industry privileges and responsibilities to include reduction.

The bill was slated for a public hearing Monday afternoon in the House Committee on Business and Labor.