Thursday was pretty nice for the first day of spring. The sun was bright even if it wasn't too warm.

I'm looking forward to days when I can sit on the back porch with my coffee in the morning, soaking up the sun and admiring the special things that are growing in the backyard. A friend at the hospital gave me two rhubarb roots a couple weeks ago, and they are doing nicely - maybe some strawberry rhubarb pie next year; they'll need this year to settle in to their new "home."

The race is officially on between me and the masked bandits - my apple trees are in full bloom.

I caught just a part of something on TV the other day about putting mint around places where you want to keep raccoons out. Don't know if it's true, but I'm willing to give anything a try if it will work.

You can certainly tell Easter is on the way. The stores are all full of all kinds of goodies and toys geared to the holiday. That's nice enough, I guess, but more and more the real reason for the day - as well as for Christmas - is being eroded, commercialized and pushed into the background. I honestly wonder, if we asked kids to tell us who Jesus is, how many of them would be able to tell us, or if the name is only one they hear as a curse.

The kids who go to church know. And the ones who attend Grace Lutheran on Cooper have a special reminder every week right now. On Wednesdays at 6 p.m. every year during the weeks coming up to Easter, they have soup suppers followed by family devotionals. There are activities for the kids as well.

Faith is an important factor in keeping families together. I've lived a lot of years, and watched a lot of families either thrive or self-destruct. The ones who thrived were much more likely to have a strong faith in God, honoring Him and each other. What a difference it makes.

Tomorrow will be a very special day at Grace Lutheran.

At 4:30 p.m., there will be an Installation service for the new pastor.

Pastor Marty Tyler and his wife Debbie will be honored and officially welcomed to the community. All area pastors and the public are welcome.

I sincerely hope they love it here as much as I do. To me, this is God's country! Welcome, Pastor and Mrs. Tyler!

For Temple Beth Shalom, the next Shabbat service will be Friday, April 4, at 7 p.m. in the Curry Coastal Pilot Building in Brookings. The next 613 Commandments class will be the following day at 10 a.m.

Passover will be held in the Coast Guard Auxiliary Hall, 140 Marine Way on Saturday, April 19, at 4 p.m. It will be a pot luck.

So there isn't much this week again - but Easterand Palm Sunday will soon be here, and that usually means a number of nice services and programs. With our variety of denominations and faiths, there should be quite a few.

To reach Martha Williams, call 460-3000, or email