I Look Not Back


There are so many changes to this “new and improved” WP site that it is basically useless to me at this point. But this New Year’s Eve, I am going to go ahead and simply post the link (above) to the song that we always sang at New Year’s in our home, my earliest memories of this beginning around 1950.

Such a good song. Such good thinking from the poetry of Annie Johnson Flint.

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…..and then he said,……

crossI had a 24/7 front row seat to the last four months of the earthly life of Grant Donald Torgerson. He had many blessed last words. He was patient, content, and confident. Not perfectly so,  but so well done. It was a privilege to participate in the gifts and grace that he received.

Someone who observed us asked if there was some book we had found that described how to do this. Oh, goodness, no! We were borne along from day to day by our loving Father who provided us with things that we never thought to ask for, Who gave us a harvest we did not anticipate.

Grant’s last words from those weeks are recorded in this post to give witness to his way and his thoughts. These words provide for his sons, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, siblings, and nieces and nephews a knowing of their Dad, their Grandpa, their Great-Grandpa, their Brother, their Uncle’s heart as he faced physical death in late 2013 and early 2014, leaving this life on March 1, 2014. Continue reading

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For the Dear Hearts and Gentle People Who Still Live in my Hometown – Culbertson, Montana

mailbox,farmcountryLike some others in the community, we (those kids of Immanuel and Edith Larsen) did not live at Culbertson except for the first decade or two of life but like most in the community, our lives were and are utterly stamped, defined, shaped, and framed by Culbertson, Montana and the good life that was built by the persistent Danes of Dane Valley.

To this day our family shares the same life roots and heritage as those who have sheltered and nourished their families in Roosevelt County over the sixty years since I last lived there. We share the same blessings that were the motivation for the word pictures I’ve tried to provide for our two sons. Perhaps some of my word pictures will reflect some of your old black and white photographs. I hope you find that to be so.  Perhaps you will discover some memories that you were part of as well. You may be reminded of something that is yours alone.

Perhaps your Grandma or Mom rode the same school bus as Fred and I.  Perhaps your Dad was one of Bill’s high school buddies. (I heard something about a shop teacher being given grief by Bill and some of his friends when they sort of dismantled and rebuilt an old car—inside the shop in the basement of the old high school?? Some of you may want to ask your Grandfathers if they might know anything about that.)  One of your aunts may have mentioned some odd goings on with Virginia and her trombone…there were some cattle involved in that story. Continue reading

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Music For the 2017 Eclipse: When I Consider Your Heavens…

Psalm 8:3-5

When I consider Your heavens,

the work of Your fingers,

the moon and the stars, which You have ordained,

What is man that You are mindful of him,

and the son of man that You visit him?

For You have made him a little lower than the angels,

And You have crowned him with glory and honor.

Psalm 19:1-6

The heavens declare the glory of God;

And the firmament shows His handiwork.

Day unto day utters speech,

And night unto night reveals knowledge.

There is no speech nor language

Where their voice is not heard.

Their line has gone out through all the earth,

And their words to the end of the world.

In them He has set a tabernacle for the sun,

Which is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,

And rejoices like a strong man to run its race.

Its rising is from one end of heaven,

And its circuit to the other end;

And there is nothing hidden from its heat. Continue reading

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My Home – All things Willamette

Our married life began in Minnesota in 1965. Then we spent 28 years in California, escaping from there in 1993 back to Minnesota farm country where we were for 18 years until moving to Oregon in 2011.

One of the fixtures of every move we made, including more than one within California, was that on move-in day at the ‘new house’ the very first order of business was to get the beds assembled, made up, and fully ready for occupancy by exhausted humans, child or adult.

We came to Oregon with a great sense of satisfaction and completion – it was the culmination of a longed-for plan to get to our final home on this side of the Jordan sort of. The real estate agents we worked with after our arrival assured us there was no way we could find a house with the payment we had established as reasonable – and this fact (in their minds) combined with the fact that we had already been approved for a payment almost twice what we were choosing to pay, caused them to quietly accompany us to horrible little houses that we would never have the strength to refurbish as needed, but that were within our price range.

We got better at computer real estate searches and found things within our price range.

Grant found the house I am now living in. The payment came in 20% below what we had set as our maximum. That maximum was 40% below what we were pre-approved for.

With the assistance of family and new friends, we moved in on January 15, 2012 and immediately assembled the big bed so it was ready for two exhausted adults when they couldn’t do any more.  I got the drapes up in the bedroom before the sun went down and we went happily to bed in our new home. Grateful.

The Willamette Valley – The Willamette River – The Willamette Falls

Just beautiful

Continue reading

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WW I Vets were subject to the first peacetime draft in 1940

This post is being updated on 9/24/2017 to include historical information regarding the peace time draft first imposed in 1940. I was born in 1944 so that was all before my time – and I had not pieced together the fact that the WW I draft act was limited. So while my father, Immanuel, was subject to the draft in WW I, I am not actually clear (at this time) whether or not he was drafted or joined voluntarily.


By the guidelines set down by the Selective Service Act, all males aged 21 to 30 were required to register for military service. At the request of the War Department, Congress amended the law in August 1918 to expand the age range to include all men 18 to 45, and to bar further volunteering.[7] By the end of World War I, some 2 million men volunteered for various branches of the armed services, and some 2.8 million had been drafted.[8] This meant that more than half of the almost 4.8 million Americans who served in the armed forces were drafted. Due to the effort to incite a patriotic attitude, the World War I draft had a high success rate, with fewer than 350,000 men ”dodging” the draft.

Young men at the first national registration day held in association with the Selective Service Act of 1917. The biggest difference between the draft established by the Selective Service Act of 1917 and the Civil War draft was that a substitute could no longer be hired to fight in a man’s place. In the Civil War, men who did not desire to fight could hire a substitute.

The biggest difference between the draft established by the Selective Service Act of 1917 and the Civil War draft was that a substitute could no longer be hired to fight in a man’s place. In the Civil War, men who did not desire to fight could hire a substitute.


Peace time conscription was, for the first time, imposed on American citizens in 1940.



The record of our father’s service in the Navy during World War I is laid out in detail in a handwritten diary,  given to him as a Christmas gift in 1918 by his brother, Willie and his sister-in-law, Elvina.

Immanuel was sworn in at Salt Lake City, Utah on June 26, 1918 and was discharged in September of 1919, arriving back in Culbertson on the 14th of September at 7 PM.

On New Year’s Day, 1919, he left Culbertson by train, headed for the west coast where he received his rating as a Shipwright on January 15.

On January 30, it was back on the train again for a cross country ride to New York.

He notes arrival times in Denver; St. Joseph, MO; St. Louis, MO; Cincinnati, OH; Chillicothe, OH; Washington, DC; Philadelpha, PA; and finally, into New York on February 6, at 2 AM.

The phrase “Join the Navy and see the World” was used for some decades on recruiting posters – apparently a lot of the world would be seen through train car windows in the opening years of the 20th century. Continue reading

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Immanuel Larsen was born in Nebraska in 1897

MBOB mailbox.larsenIn May of 2010, Grant and I were preparing for a nine-state road trip which would take us south from Minnesota on I-29 to Omaha; west across Nebraska on I-80, with a planned historical/family heritage stop in Aurora, NB, for a full day; and then on to Denver where we would attend our grandson’s high school graduation.

Then we would head north into Wyoming and west to Oregon to visit our other son and his family, finally returning to Minnesota via Idaho, Montana, and North Dakota. A long trip!

We had reservations at a B & B in Aurora, Nebraska, and planned to spend a day and a half there exploring some Larsen family roots.

A couple of days before we were to leave a big tree fell, destroying our garage and woodshed in addition to other things in its trajectory. Our departure was delayed and as a result we only had three hours in Aurora for the intended heritage search. But it was still such a rich find!

We left Aurora satisfied and excited – with terrific documentation, information and photos, and a large book of newspaper article replications from 1874-1902.

Continue reading

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We Went to Yellowstone Park in 1949

At about 7:08 in the video, there’s a beautiful view of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, with the usual view of Yellowstone Falls.

Our parents drove the family there in the old car.

It was a trip of over 500 miles. Preparations included a basket full of packed sandwiches and thermoses full of coffee. It involved sleeping in the car sandwich-like, the six of us sort of packed next to one another.

The narrator in the satirical video above, does have a properly ominous voice. The information he provides is quite accurate but apparently he just doesn’t know how to enjoy Yellowstone. (Maybe he’s from New Yawk ‘r somethin’…secretly, he loves it….which comes out as he goes along….)

We enjoyed it every time we went, including the several trips in our adult years when we introduced our boys to the marvels to be found there. In 1949 we,  like most farm kids raised around DDT, rusty nails, and literal raging bulls, did as we were told and if we were little, a parent was clutching our little hand in a death grip so we were quite safe.

Gas was about 20 cents a gallon in those days and bread ran about 14 cents a loaf. Household income averaged a little over $3,000.


I was five, my closest brother was seven, older brother and sister were fourteen and fifteen.

That must have been the first time I saw, in person, Gil’s Got It, a packed-to-the-rafters-souvenir store in Livingston, Montana which had as many road signs in those parts as Burma Shave had across the west. Continue reading

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God’s Faithfulness and Goodness is Great

Think back, if you’re old enough to, to June, 1962 – or visit that time in memory with me.

My thoughts return to my high school graduation, one month earlier. Now, on some day in June, we are loading the very last items from the house on to trucks driven by my uncles as Mom and I prepare to move to her new home forty miles south on Highway 16 in eastern Montana. One of those uncles had assisted our Dad (who had died on March 31) with the details and process of purchasing that house for Mom.

One of the final heavy items brought out of the house was the piano that had been purchased when I was in about first grade. It had replaced the old upright player piano that had served the house through the ’40s. Now that newer studio piano sat on the open truck bed in the open summer air. Continue reading

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Endurance is not a feeling – it’s a choice

Three years ago I posted the thoughts shared in the devotional book, Streams in the Desert:


Last week I had my regularly scheduled IV infusion of Herceptin, one of the toxic-yet-amazing tools used in the treatment of the cancer identified one year ago today. During that appointment I had a productive conversation with the nurse which I will relate in a bit – the nurses who are trained and experienced in oncology IV treatments are quite a resource….such resources are best drawn on when the awareness of the one coming to take is met by the readiness of the one ready to give, in this case, IV/Oncology Nurse Carol. We had a wonderful meeting on Tuesday.

When the 33 radiation treatments ended in early February I was glad to be told by the radiation oncologist that I would begin feeling distinctively better in a couple of weeks as recovery from radiation fatigue got under way. But there was an OOPS. Feeling distinctively better didn’t happen. At all. Continue reading

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Our Farmyard in the 1950s


This photo includes primary features of my childhood memories. One unique aspect to it is that, as arranged, the large farm house completely obscures the even-larger barn!

As is, it helps provide a record for sons, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Documenting what was with the hope that it bring some gift to what is.

We have fairly simple digital technology available to us today by which we may document and store an amazing amount of family information. The blog that much of this material was copied from in 2017 (now dysfunctional) was my entry level way of doing that.

I also discovered early on (about eight years ago) that many who didn’t know our family at all still found enjoyment and stirring-of-their-own-memories in reading what I shared….so feel free to borrow my memories or use this as an encouragement to document your own.

This photo, taken by my father, Immanuel Larsen (who was born in 1898 in Nebraska), presents our farm house as it would be seen if you had driven down our 3/4 mile long driveway, from the country road, and here you see a portion of our farm yard. Continue reading

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March 16, 2017: It’s all good

A bunch of grape hyacinths is blooming as it should, looking a bit luxurious

A decent sized flock of migrating birds moved south to north (they’re still playing at migrating) around noon – looked to be Canadian Geese and sounded like such

I saw two soaring, circling, wide-winged birds on the hunt in the open space behind the houses across the street – flying for a meal (or for the pleasure of flying perhaps)

The first lilac buds are discernible as lilac buds, as opposed to leaf-buds

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Continue reading

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Sayings from my Dad

The sun has riz

the morning is

I wonder where 

the birdies is

This often used when he called up the long stairs to the second floor bedrooms, letting us know it was time to rise and shine

No rest for the wicked 

and the righteous don’t need it

Useful for a reminder to self and the group to get up and get back to work in the summer time fields or the winter tasks in the big outbuildings – at the end of a meal or coffee break

This was his answer to my question, “Daddy, are we rich?” (when I was about ten):

Yes, we are…

….and some day we may even have some money

Continue reading
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Out of a Cardboard Box: Learning About Hospice

Six weeks before Grant died (three years ago this week) we invited hospice on to the property, signed their paperwork, and started getting acquainted with the individuals who – to one degree or another – would assist and serve us for an undetermined time.


We learned many things during the time we shared together with dear Sandy (our assigned nurse) and I learned more things after Grant walked on toward Home.

I don’t know if all the procedures, policies, and rules are the same nationwide although I do know that every local hospice service is ultimately connected to the national office. Continue reading

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It’s a special day: use the sterling


“Sharon, we’ll be using the sterling…..”…was the instruction I would hear on a Saturday in 1954 as I got ready to set the dining room table for the dinner guests due to arrive on Sunday after church.

Many of the things I grew up with had not been part of the farm home during the young years of my siblings, most of whom were born during or just after The Great Depression.

I really don’t know when my mother acquired the sterling as I was the last of seven whose births were spread over seventeen years but the sterling was there during my childhood and it was beautiful. Continue reading

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A New Category: Cardboard Boxes

After I was diagnosed in March of 2016 I realized that a cancer diagnosis, like a new car, an old house, a bad road, or an overgrown garden, is sort of like a card board box that has stuff in it. We don’t know what’s in it until we unpack it.

Stuff received in cardboard boxes may indeed be unpleasant and difficult. It maybe also be fluffy and sunshiny. The contents of the box are the stuff of life. The box is disposable. It helped me to draw on that impression and resist silent demand that I concentrate on the box.

Yes, I had to open the box up and deal with the contents. I did not have to move into the box. Continue reading

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“My thoughts are not your thoughts.” – God

Sometimes that fact brings relief – when I am harsh with myself for a miscalculation and He reminds me that He has extended mercy. Sometimes it brings frustration because I persist in my assumption that my perspective is correct, and expend too much energy trying to prove my point even as reality and wisdom push back in an effort to persuade me otherwise.

Isaiah 55 presents a vivid portrayal of what God is like. There is peace to be found in what God is like.

A few days ago I was reading a lengthy comment in a Christian blog by a reader who could not believe that a supposed God of love should expect people to love Him and honor Him when He didn’t fix every difficult situation in their lives, and prevent every unpleasant or tragic situation. Of course, it wasn’t expressed quite that way but that was the essence of it.

Beginning from a perspective of querulous discontent with the Almighty and developing a list of complaints can produce considerable heat but not much light.

It’s a fact that revelation is the manner in which we may become acquainted with what God is like. God is a self-revealing God. The hungry and wounded soul is invited to draw in and will find provision if they lay down their offended human reasoning as they approach.

In the preface of A. W. Tozer’s classic The Knowledge of the Holy, he writes:

The low view of God entertained almost universally among Christians is the cause of a hundred lesser evils everywhere among us. A whole new philosophy of the Christian life has resulted from this one basic error in our religious thinking.

With our loss of the sense of majesty has come the further loss of religious awe and consciousness of the divine Presence. We have lost our spirit of worship and our ability to withdraw inwardly to meet God in adoring silence….

This loss of the concept of majesty has come just when the the forces of religion are making dramatic gains [the book was published in 1961] …. (B)ut the alarming thing is that our gains are mostly external and our losses wholly internal; and since it is the quality of our religion that is affected by internal conditions, it may be that our supposed gains are but losses spread over a wider field.

I’m grateful for the ever-present invitation:

Ho! Everyone who thirsts! Come to the waters; and you who have no money, come! Buy andeat. Yes, come! Buy wine and milk without money and without price….Listen diligently to Me and me and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance. Incline your ear and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live.

Isaiah 55:1-3




Continue reading

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Out in the Old Back Yard

The fingers of God at work in the trees
are finishing the final touches
that will provide privacy in the back yard
for the next six monthsprivacy

The Japanese elm is about thirty feet across
is fully leafed now and
this morning
heavy with steady rainfall
it lowers in wide and
widely covering with its
flffy thickness to drop a canopy of green
between me and the neighbor I did not choose. Continue reading

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Lift Up Your Heart To God

Undeniable Truths of Life # 2,384 and # 2,385. Or maybe they are # 802 and #803. I can never remember.

  • Everyone is owned by someone
  • Everyone serves someone

There is a third related truth:

  • We choose who the Someone is.

All three truths can be evaded at any stage of life or even for an entire lifetime.

These are truths easily promoted by people of faith but many people of faith are still uncomfortable about the thing because many of them are still owned by and serving those who demanded the relationship in exchange for approval, i.e., if the targeted property did as they were told to do they would receive the approval of their owner. 

It’s important. It’s simple. Wisdom is needed.

A man I call The Little Monk wrote what became the work entitled The Cloud of Unknowing.

This anonymous English monk, writing in the fourteenth century, put forth an invitation to his readers (after recommending in the opening lines that the reader not continue reading!) to give themselves to a simple and deep way of being:

Lift up your heart to God with a humble impulse of love, and have himself as your aim, not any of his goods…Set yourself to rest in this darkness…, always crying out after him whom you love. For if you are to experience him or to see him at all, insofar as it is possible here, it must always be in this cloud and in this darkness.


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The Familiar Solution

Whatever has been my habitual problem-solving pattern over the years will tend to be the pattern to which I turn in the presence of a new problem.

Conscious acknowledgement of that tendency makes it more likely that eventually (now would be nice) I will  notice built-in hindrances to my problem-solving patterns.

Most of my dead-ends with regard to being at peace and receiving God’s lavish provision for my needs are not all that mysterious: they are quite predictable. They are well-honed. Sometimes they are new-and-improved. Often they have had spiffy new paint jobs put on them – even repeatedly – over the years.

But there is rich blessing in allowing the Spirit to turn that rusty bucket (the one over there near the old fence line) upside down, toss it aside, and reveal the useless detritus underneath.

He’s very much into breathing new life into old things that don’t work very well.

Rusty buckets lay around the perimeters of life and I’ve learned to appreciate when I see Him reaching for one. It’s ok.

….Paul offered grateful praise to the Lord [in Ephesians 1:3]. Blessed be the God and Fatherof our Lord Jesus Christ.” Paul’s thanksgiving was for what the Father has given to us:“whohas blessed us.” Notice, the verb is in the past tense-this has already happened.

What is it that has already been given to us? It is every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.” Think of it. This truth is staggering in its implications.

Every grace resource that heaven has to offer is already ours here on earth. This does not mean that we are fully aware of all that has been given to us. Certainly, it does not mean that we are experiencing all of these blessings.

Yet, it does mean that they are all ours to draw upon for fullness of life here on earth!


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