“North Dakota Nice” During a Traffic Accident

Our office is near a busy intersection in Fargo, and that means every so often we have the opportunity to do some rubbernecking and see a traffic accident unfold. That happened last week, and I keep finding myself thinking about that accident and the “North Dakota Nice” that I observed afterwards. First, the accident details: the accident appeared to have involved an older gentleman whose car was pulling a trailer and somehow ended up in a left-turn lane on the wrong side of the median, and two other vehicles (ironically, they were courtesy vehicles from two different auto dealers here in town).

While the cleanup was underway I noticed the “North Dakota Nice” traffic pattern … or what one of my coworkers called the zipper pattern. One lane of traffic could move forward with no obstructions, the other lane was blocked by the accident. Of course many people in the blocked lane didn’t notice the reason for their sudden stop until they were upon the accident. So the drivers in the free-moving lane of traffic would, without fail, work the zipper pattern: the person in front would let one person in from the blocked lane and then moves on, and the pattern repeats itself with the new leader at the front of the line. (It’s so much easier to see that traffic pattern in action than it is to write about it!) And with that pattern in play the traffic kept moving at a somewhat normal pace.

That’s part of what makes living in North Dakota such a pleasurable experience. I don’t know if courtesies like that are commonly extended in other parts of the country. I suppose they are, but it just seems like it would happen here in North Dakota more than other places.

What do you think? Do any of you out-of-staters care to comment?

I Saw America Today

Normally I take nothing more than a quick glance (if even a glance at all!) at the “casual friends” e-mails. You know the kind: funny pictures, jokes, pass this on to 30 of your friends … all those emails. But the email I received today really caught my attention. In fact, it brought tears to my eyes. I did a quick search to find a posting from the original author, but didn’t find it … so I’m republishing the e-mail I received from Ed Pierce. (Thanks Ed!)

I saw America today.

I was among more that 200 people gathered on the tarmac at the Meridian Air Navel Station to welcome Sgt. Eric C. Newman, 30, of Waynesboro , Miss. home from Afghanistan.

He did not exit to cheers and hugs but was greeted by respectful silence. Military men and women, bikers, policemen, firemen, all in formation riveted their attention as Sgt. Newman disembarked from the plane carrying him.

He exited in a flag draped coffin, killed in action in Afghanistan .

The family stood near the hearse and as Sgt. Newman’s casket approached he was greeted by his new wife and his mother as they draped their arms around the casket where their beloved husband and son lay. There would be no married life for the newly married couple and another mother had given her son in the name of freedom.

I saw America today.

The procession formed with a police escort in front leading the hearse carrying Sgt. Newman which was followed by his family, more than 100 bikers, including the Patriot Guard Riders, scores of police officers, firemen, and friends. I rode near the front and I never could see the end of the procession as we rolled over the hills from Meridian to Waynesboro .

I saw America today.

On the 60 mile journey truckers, the big rigs, pulled to the side of the road, exited their trucks and put hand over heart in honor of Sgt. Newman and the American flag. Down the road from one big shiny rig was a humble logging truck, driver standing on the ground, hand over heart.

For sixty miles a mixture of people stood by the side of the road, flag in hand as we rolled past. At every junction where a side road entered there were people. At the overpasses there was always a fire truck displaying a large American flag. Every fire department along the way had their fire truck standing by to honor this young American who gave his life for us.

There was a young Boy Scout, in uniform, proudly saluting Sgt. Newman and the American flags that passed him.

A man in bib overalls stood by a ragged old pickup truck giving honor. Just down the road was a man dressed in suit and tie by his expensive SUV.

Something in the bright blue sky above caught my eye. It was two jet fighter planes flying over the procession, the thoughtful action of fellow soldiers.

I could see a woman kneeling, holding something out in her hands. At first I thought it must be a camera but as I passed I could clearly see it was a folded American flag. Just like the one that was given to my mother when my father died. Yes, it was her way of saying, “I lost a loved one as well.”

I saw America today.

As we left the main road and entered Waynesboro two fire trucks were parked in such a way as to form an arch with a giant American flag suspended between the two.

The streets were lined solid with people. No cars were moving. I observed someone in a wheel chair on the side of the road. When we drew closer I saw several in wheel chairs, some on crutches. They were old, and fragile. They were residents of a nursing home. On down the road there was another group from yet another nursing home, all waving tiny American flags.

As we wound our way through town hundreds of people lined the sides of the streets. We passed an elementary school. The children lined the fence three deep, most with flags, some with red, white, and blue balloons which were later released.

Next we passed the high school. Again the students respectfully lined the streets adjacent to the school. All were standing respectfully in honor of Sgt. Newman.

And did I mention the yellow ribbons? They were on trees, mailboxes, fences, and anywhere people could place them.

I saw America today.

When we had finished the escort all the bikers were asked to meet at the First Baptist Church of Waynesboro. There they gathered us up and escorted us to the Western Sizzlen ’ where the people of the town treated us to lunch for doing something of which we were proud to be a part.

Today, I saw America and I’m proud to be an American. God bless America .

Rod Smith, Patriot Guard Rider
October 21, 2010, Laurel , Mississippi

These videos makes it even more real:

To Sgt. Newman and all others past and present that have fought for our country … Thank You for your service. I sincerely hope the citizens of our country are worthy of the sacrifice you’ve offered which allows us to enjoy this great nation.

Throwing Stones (or Not)

Lately when I get thinking about the Bible I find my thoughts drifting to Nicodemus. I would like to learn more about him beyond the snapshots presented in the Bible. As I’ve attempted to dig deeper in the Bible to find out more about what made him tick I found myself reading John 8 in a way I’ve never read it before.

Anyone who’s done just a little bit of Bible study is probably familiar with the story: An adulterous woman gets dragged to Jesus by the religious leaders of Jesus’s day and they try to trap Jesus by asking him for his thoughts on stoning her. Jesus replied that whoever is without sin should throw the first stone. The religious elite responded by walking away.

In reading the story, the application of the lesson to be learned most often drifts to the religious scholars and Pharisees, and to the woman. But reading it lately I’ve found my attention focused on this thought. Jesus clearly said (as translated in The Message version of the Bible), “The sinless one among you, go first: Throw the stone.” Who’s the sinless one? Jesus, of course! Did he throw a stone? No, even though he had every right to!

This story ties in nicely with Romans 8:1 which says, “…there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

I find myself regretting throwing stones in the past, and will do my best to replace stones of condemnation with gentle nudges based in the love of Jesus.

Enough with the Bag Already!

You know what bugs me? Buying one small “something” and the cashier immediately puts it in a bag. When I just bought a small item or two that’s easy to carry the last thing I want at home is another plastic bag to throw away.

I’m not making an ultra-earth-aware statement … I believe it’s arrogant to think that us mere mortal humans can single-handedly mess up God’s creation (that’s a soapbox for another time!), but at the same time I feel it’s good stewardship to care for what’s around us, and it’s stewardship that requires no extra effort. (In fact, it requires less effort because the cashier can just skip the bag routing.) So I’d just rather not have that extra plastic bag. It’s just plain silly and wasteful to put something I can easily carry in my hand into a bag.

Emily was Baptized Today!

Wow, what a day! While I have no shortage of items in the “Proud of My Kids” category, I believe today was certainly the high mark so far. Several weeks ago Emily matter-of-factly said, “Dad, I think I want to be baptized…” That was such an exciting thing for me to hear, but I kept my excitement in check until I knew for sure that she totally understood what it meant to be baptized. She did! She met with the pastor at church and he agreed she was ready!

This morning in front of family, friends, and the Bethel congregation Emily publicly declared her love for Christ Jesus and her desire to follow Him … and she was baptized. It was such a beautiful experience. My eyes teared up with happiness, and I was overwhelmed with emotion. God is stirring her heart, I expect He will do great things in her life!

I really had a hard time containing my pride, excitement, and love … love both for Emily for coming to this decision (with no prompting from others), and love for Jesus who has so beautifully provided a path for us to approach a Holy God. With the amount of “overwhelmedness” (is that a word?) I experienced today, I’m sure I’ll be a total blubbering emotional idiot for future milestone moments. But for now I’ll just enjoy the afterglow of a very wonderful day experienced with Emily.

Memories of Dad

As I mentioned in the previous post about Dad’s passing, I have been working through many memories of Dad. I’ve found that towards the end of Dad’s life I thought of him more and more as an Alzheimer’s patient. After looking through old photos and hearing stories from the family, I’m so glad I’ve been able to remember Dad as the fun person he was in his younger years. Some of those fun memories from Dad’s nieces and nephews appear below:

From Roberta:

My Dad always recalls when Irvin fell in love with Frieda and says, “Irvin couldn’t take his eyes of his bride.  Once the three of them were traveling from Turtle Lake to Bismarck.  Irvin was driving. Frieda was sitting in the front seat.  With each passing mile, she slid closer and closer to Irvin on those “good old” bench seats.  Dad, who was seated in the back seat, noticed that Irvin was wonderfully distracted!  Now, as you know, Dad and Irvin were always kidding one another.  When one of Irvin’s hands moved away from the steering wheel (his arm lovingly wrapped around Frieda’s shoulders) and both eyes were totally focused on his beloved passenger, Dad remembers suggesting that the road deserved at least part of a driver’s attention.  Dad reminded the newly engaged couple of his chauffeuring days (while in college) in Chicago and got in the drivers seat for the return trip, so that the lovebirds could enjoy the ride!

When Uncle Irvin stayed with Mom, Dad, and Sheryl in Indiana during his Taylor (college) years, he developed quite a reputation with his very young niece. I think we all remember how playful he was! Sheryl also remembered him in another way.  One of her toys broke and as Mom and Dad puzzled over it, she proclaimed, “Uncle Irgis fix it!”  Indeed, before he turned to his studies, all necessary repairs were complete.

From Phyllis:

Phyllis Hultin Fick remembers your Dad playing hide and seek with his five nieces and nephews (Pat, Alden, Willie, Mary and Phyllis) in their Fordville, ND home.  What they discovered was that Uncle Irvin tracked their whereabouts by having his ear to the floor register, so to outsmart them.

From Phyllis and Alvin:

Both Phyllis and Alvin Hultin recalled memories of decorating the bride and grooms car at the infamous wedding of your parents.  Phyllis wrote: I always think of Irvin and Frieda’s wedding day, and how long it took to blow up all the balloons that were going to be placed in their car.  It was such a hot day and the thought of them having to squeeze together when they would get in their car was kind of an exciting prospect.  The happy couple came out to the car with the kids watching in anticipation.  Irvin pulled out the pin from his boutonniere, pop-pop-pop-pop-pop, went the balloons.  In a matter of seconds, all the hard work was gone and the couple slide into the front seat.

From Alvin:

Alvin remembers that we stuffed the car with newspapers and as fast as the couple removed them, we replaced them from a different vantagepoint!  He also recalls that we strategically placed pieces of watermelon in front of the tires.   It has long been the Hultin cousin’s belief that we didn’t initally endear ourselves to Uncle Irvin’s new bride, given the way we treated the wedding car.  We just hoped that our new Aunt Frieda would understand our interest in “payback” for all the practical jokes her new husband had bestowed on his nieces and nephews over the years!

More from Roberta:

My Dad’s memory about Irvin being so in love with his bride, Frieda, made me ponder Irvin’s love and admiration for his son, David.  It did not surprise me years ago to learn from a member of one of my Sunday School classes that the name “David” means “wanted one”, and hearing that brought to mind how of my youngest Hultin cousin was so wholeheartedly embraced by his parents and our extended family.  Home from college in the late 1960’s, I remember going to visit Uncle Irvin and Aunt Frieda and to see their new baby.  David was asleep in his bassinet and Irvin met her me at the door, “Shhhhh, come quietly.  You can see him smiling already … even while he sleeps!”  We tiptoed over to the bassinet to admire the sleeping infant.  As much as I love to watch an infant’s every move, I couldn’t take my eyes off Uncle Irvin; his love for this newborn son was nothing short of palpable.  Uncle Irvin always embodied this wonderful sense of anticipation, be it a delight of nature (which he appreciated so wholly), the next move in one of those endless games we played or puzzles we solved, or the destination on some fun road trip.  But this anticipation, while looking into David’s basinett, was even greater; my Uncle was smitten.  All of a sudden he whispered, “Look!  There it comes … his smile!”  I have no idea how long we stood beside that bassinet.  Time stood still and the memory has never faded for me, just as that father’s love never faded for his son.  Aunt Frieda just told me about reading David’s 2010 “Father’s Day” card to Irvin a few weeks ago and how when she said that the card was from David, she saw a little smile of recognition through the fog that Alzheimer’s Disease brings. My Uncle Irvin loved life, he loved family, he was true to his beliefs.

From Aileen:

Your Dad was a wonderful and fun man.  My memories of him are when Merton and him (before your Mom) would come to our house. The door would fly open and your Dad would grab Alvin, Merton would grab Paul, through them over their shoulders and away they would go. In our house they could run a full circle  around the house. Boy dog would chase them, barking, I would either chase them or stand and laugh and poor Mom would stand with her hands over her face or ears and shake her head. Of course she loved this racket as much as she loved her brothers, but it did get loud. So much fun!

And one more from Roberta:

Dad and I were remembering the time Irvin bolted in the back door at Wahpeton for a surprise visit. Our cocker spaniel, Copper, always alerted us when anyone approached (seems it was often the prelude to preparing a sandwich for one of the many vagabonds who came to that church/parsonage in need of sustenance.) Uncle Irvin must have had enough of this dog’s raucous barking!  Uncle Irvin swung open the back door, jumped forward on “all fours”, right in Copper’s face, and began mimicking Copper – only he raised the decibels several notches!  Boy, could Uncle Irvin let loose with a barking impression!  Copper fled to the other end of the house, squealing for her life all the way.  We had never seen (nor would we again see) Copper so startled!  Mom was practically on the floor in laughter. I was chasing Copper to tell her that it was “just Uncle Irvin who does these things” and not to be afraid.  Dad came out from the study to assess the ruckus and (as often occurred) he and Irvin engaged in a stand-up wrestling match.  Soon, they got Copper into the ring with them and all was well.  I think Mom called that memory, “The time Irvin pounced!”

And one of my own memories that was read at the funeral:

Irvin had a kind, gentle, and forgiving heart, but his son Dave remembers he knew how to dispense justice when needed. When Dave was about four years old on a hot summer day, his dog was tied up on a leash outside. Dave thought it would be good to take the garden hose and totally soak the dog with no mercy at all. Irvin heard the annoyed dog, came out, grabbed the hose, and totally soaked Dave, teaching him a quick lesson about kindness.

It’s been so wonderful to have the correct memories of Dad flood my mind in a way I never expected. Amidst all the memories I’ve really come to learn that Mom and Dad’s wedding was a real big deal. With their wedding occurring at Mom’s age of 40 and Dad’s age of 45, I can imagine it was a wonderful celebration in both families!

Mom’s First Anniversary Without Dad

I called Mom tonight to make sure she was doing OK today … her first wedding anniversary since Dad’s passing. She still thinks about Dad a lot of course, but for some reason she didn’t connect that today was their anniversary.

I have to say that I’ve been inspired by Mom’s devotion to Dad during the course of his Alzheimer’s disease, especially over the last few years. She has really lived her wedding vows … for better or for worse, in sickness and in health.

I’m glad she’s doing well; she’s doing much better than I would have expected considering what she’s been through.

A Day to Remember Reverend Irvin Hultin

Today we remembered the life of my father, Irvin Hultin. I knew this day was coming, but that doesn’t make it any easier. Dad’s funeral was very touching. Dad’s legacy as a faithful minister of God’s message was highlighted, and memories were shared, including dating and wedding stories, and the story of the girl in one of Dad’s congregations who had to shake Dad’s hand every Sunday. She missed one Sunday and her parents had to take their crying girl back to church to “Shake hands with God.”

There are many memories from this day, I’ll keep them in my heart forever.

Alzheimer’s robbed the last years of Dad’s life even before he died. However, Dad is now praising God with a perfectly clear mind and repaired body. He is now in the direct presence of the Lord Jesus Christ he has so beautifully served in both his personal and professional life.

I love you, and I’ll miss you.

Rev. Irvin Hultin's Final Resting Place

Reverend Irvin Hultin, 91, Minot, died Thursday, July 15, 2010, in a Minot nursing home.

Irvin Linton Hultin was born into life on June 30, 1919, to John and Anna (Dahl) Hultin in their country home, near Nash, ND.  He joined six older brothers and one older sister.  Their family grew to include ten children, with the births of another brother and sister.

At the age of thirteen, Irvin’s mother died suddenly.  Doris, his older sister, returned home from college to look after the younger children.  The family moved from the farm into Hoople, ND, where he was raised and blessed with receiving a formal education from Hartford Township School and later graduating from Hoople High School in 1938.

Irvin continued studies at the Vennard College where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree.  As a college student, a number of Irvin’s summers were spent assisting his family with the daily operation of the farm.  He also worked for two summers at Bethany Orphanage in Bethany, KY.  Irvin continued his education journey studying at Taylor University in Upland, Indiana until earning his Ph.D. at the University of North Dakota.

Reverend Hultin’s ministry journey in the United Methodist Faith began while he was attending the University of North Dakota.  He was a pastor to many congregations over the next thirty-five years.  These churches stretched across North Dakota to include, Hanna-Wales from 53-56, rural Mandan-Fort Rice from 56-62, Turtle Lake-McClusky from 62-65, Sterling-Braddock-Moffit-Driscoll from 65-68, Hazen-Beulah-Zap from 68-70, Tuttle-Robinson from 70-74, Rock Lake-Clyde-Egeland from 74-80 and Marion-Dickey from 80-86.

Reverend Hultin was united in marriage to Frieda Bauer on August 3, 1964, in Turtle Lake, ND.  They were blessed with the birth of a son, David.  They made their home amongst the parishioners and towns he served during his career until his semi-retirement in 1986, when they settled in Minot, ND.

Reverend Hultin ministered to people through Vincent United Methodist as a visitation pastor for the next eight years.  His passion and dedication to ministry was recognized in June of 2003 at the ND Annual Conference in Fargo, ND.  He was recognized as one of the Jubilee Clergy for 50 years of service in ministry.

Irvin’s life enjoyments grew to include, gardening, traveling, reading, visitation, playing home games, working complicated puzzles, and walking.  He enjoyed children and youth, which was cultivated with service as a camp counselor and craft director at Wesley Acres near Valley City, ND.

Irvin was an ambitious, kind, thoughtful and supportive help mate, father and friend.  He lived his Christian life as an example to all who knew him, upholding goodness, carrying out kind deeds, and putting the welfare of others first and foremost.  He just plain enjoyed people.  His nieces and nephews remember him fondly for his fun loving spirit and surprising antics.  He will be deeply missed by all who were touched and shared in his life.

His loving family includes, loving wife of 45 years, Frieda, Minot; son, David (Judy) Hultin, Fargo, ND; Grandchildren, Emily, Tessa, and Andrew Hultin, all of Fargo, ND; sister, Ann Hultin, Grand Forks, ND, and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.

Irvin was preceded in death by his parents, sister, Doris Owens, and brothers, Helmer, Leonard, Arvid, Alvin, Merton, and Russell Hultin.

The Great American Vacation Day Three

Today was The Great American Vacation Day Three. It was spent almost exclusively at Noah’s Ark Water Park. It was a blast!

But upon arriving back at the camper I learned that we will be cutting our vacation short due to the passing of my Father, Reverend Irvin Hultin this afternoon. He truly is a child of God and a loving servant of God. Although the news is not unexpected because he had Alzheimer’s disease, it is still bitter-sweet news.

I love you Dad.

The Great American Vacation Day Two

Today was GAV (The Great American Vacation) Day Two. It started with a liesurely awakening at the campground, then on the road to Wisconsin Dells. The closer we got the more the excitement built! We had a quick meal, then off to the DellBoo campground. First impressions of DellBoo: average and adequate.

Weather today: hot and humid. While I set up the camper (in the sweltering heat!) Judy and the kids cooled off in the pool. Go figure! 🙂

Then off to town to see the Tommy Barrlett Water show. As soon as we pulled into the parking lot all the childhood memories came flooding back … the big welcoming sign, the wooded path to the show, all the good memories! The show was a lot of fun in spite of the uncomfortably hot weather; the kids all had their favorite parts.

After the show we took a super-quick tour of the main drag, then the big black clouds rolled in so we returned to the camper. Thankfully the storm wasn’t anything but rain, and thankfully we chose the 4:30 water show instead of the 8:00 show.

And so ended GAV Day Two, another success!

Last minute update: Several times in the night between GAV Day 1 and GAV Day 2 we had lots of rain. The sound of rain on a camper roof is one of my favorite sounds, but I’m not sure my kids agree. The rain came during non-attractions hours so the plans for GAV remain unchanged!

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