Archives for : November2018

Christmas Gifts that Matter

Christmas Gifts that Matter . . .

Each year many of us say to ourselves, NEXT year I’m going to make it a point to give more meaningful Christmas gifts.  NEXT year we’ll spend less on ourselves—since we really don’t need anything–and remember those who actually are needy.

Here are a few ways you can do this:

Locally:

  • Go online and type in Angel Tree – Prison Fellowship to see how you can donate online. OR if your church or other organization has an Angel Tree, you can pick a tag off the tree that gives the name and age of a child whose incarcerated parent has signed up for the program. The tag will give you some suggestions for a gift you can buy for a child who has a parent serving time in the correctional system.
  • Go online and type in Angel Tree – Salvation Army for making a donation to a similar program that serves needy children whose parents are not necessarily incarcerated.
  • Visit someone you know in a nursing home. OR if you don’t personally know anyone, call a nursing home and ask for the name of someone who gets few (if any) visitors. You might bring a small gift of homemade cookies or a CD or another thoughtful gift. If you have young children or grandchildren who might be willing to sing or tell jokes or play a musical instrument, bring them along.
  • Go food shopping and bring bags of groceries to your local food bank.
  • Volunteer to help serve Christmas dinner at the Salvation Army or other mission facility, or make a donation toward feeding the homeless and other needy people. OR invite an extra person (or 2 or 3) into your own home for a Christmas meal with you—someone who might otherwise be alone for the holidays.

Globally:

  • Go online and type in Samaritan’s Purse – Disaster Relief. This organization provides food, emergency shelter, medicine, and other practical help to bring relief from poverty, war, and natural disasters both in the U.S. and abroad.
  • Check out World Vision online to see how you can sponsor a child or make a donation toward needs worldwide.

Or broaden your own vision by putting up your antennae and looking around you to see who could use some time or attention or physical or financial help from you. You will be doubly blessed, and you’ll ask yourself, “Why haven’t I done this before now?”

by Sharon Sheppard

Gratitude

     Unhappy is the man, though he rule the world who doesn’t consider himself supremely blest.                                                                                                                                                                                             ~ Seneca

 

In November, more than any other month, our hearts turn toward thankfulness. Thanksgiving, always the third Thursday of the month, causes us to pause at least momentarily and offer gratitude for all our blessings. Yet, as I write, it seems like a more thankless and threatening time in our world is happening. Pipe bombs are being sent to prominent politicians, multiple fatalities have occurred on an attack in a Pittsburgh Synagogue, where a house of worship ought to be a refuge. Democrats and republicans are undermining each other across the aisle with lies and deception to stay on top of their game and be the winner. This hate and evil causes me to ponder, and question, where is the love of God being shown in our world?   I am reminded of a recent lesson I experienced at the supermarket in the check- out line. We were held up for a price check…and it was my price check that was holding things up! When I apologized, the man behind me said, “I am in no hurry! You just take your time. I’m so happy to be alive at 87 that when the good Lord is ready to take me home, I have faith in Jesus that I will arrive safely.”

 

Wow! I was immediately filled with hope in mankind. That elderly gentleman had his sights set on things to come, what the Bible says; on things above. While living in the now, his thoughts were on a future home. Thoughts of all the great and glorious blessings of living with his Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ forever. This way of living, granted him a perspective of faith, hope and love; that seems neglected or for sure negligent in our society. It would behoove me and possibly you, to choose this month of November, to dwell on things above, and pray for those who don’t!  A thankful heart will be your reward!

 

 

              Therefore as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Above all, put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule your heart, since you were called to peace.  And be thankful. Sing songs of praise with gratitude in your hearts giving thanks to God the Father forever and ever, amen.                  (A paraphrase from Colossians chapter3)
Mary Zigan

 

Pumpkin Loaf

It is definitely Pumpkin season! The offerings are prevalent. There are pumpkin flavored coffees, pumpkin cookies and cakes, pumpkin soup, and one more…..I am going to share my pumpkin loaf recipe. This pumpkin treat can be eaten at breakfast with butter or as a dessert with cinnamon ice cream for dinner. Yum! This recipe is an easy one bowl, no mess, delicious offering for any occasion. Enjoy

 

Pumpkin Loaf

 

2 c. sugar                                                   4 eggs

1 c. oil                                                         2 c. canned pumpkin

3 c. flour                                                    1 tsp. salt

½ tsp. baking powder                           ½ tsp. allspice & nutmeg

2 tsp. soda                                                1 tsp. cinnamon

½ c. walnuts, chopped                         1 ½ c. raisins

 

Beat together sugar, eggs, oil and pumpkin. Sift together all dry ingredients and add to the wet mixture. Add the nuts and raisins. Turn into 2 large or 3 small loaves. Bake one hour at 325.

~ Mary Zigan

 

Blake Anderson, Veteran’s Day

GUEST BLOG:  In honor of Veteran’s Day, history buff Blake Anderson pays tribute to some extraordinary people.

It’s unusual in this day and age to find personal accounts from World War II, but from the time I was quite young, I’ve always had an interest in that era. It was common when I was growing up to be able to talk with veterans of World War II or the Korean War and to hear first-hand stories of personal heroism. If a newscaster or teacher made errors in their accounts, all you had to do to find out what it was really like was to find a veteran who had actually been there.

My grandpa was one of these. He was assigned to a destroyer escort in the South Pacific in WWII, and he helped in the Lingayen Gulf Philippines Liberation.

More recently, I have had the privilege to hear first-hand accounts from Claude Kowalski, a Vietnam veteran from Kimball, Minnesota, and a friend I’ve known for 13 years. He is a man of honor and he lives out his Christian values. I’ve been intrigued with his stories, and occasionally I pump him for more details.

Nineteen-year-old Claude volunteered to go to Vietnam as a member of the 1st Marine Division, with some of the earliest American ground force presences in Vietnam. He was assigned to the I Corps sector in a village called Chu Lai in 1967. His job most days was to lift and carry howitzer shells and load the big gun. These shells weighed over 100 pounds each, once the four-pound wick was installed, and he hefted these heavy shells, one after another, for what must have seemed like an eternity, day in and day out. It’s no wonder that Claude suffers from PTSD and a significant hearing loss today.

“I was young and fit in those days,” Claude says, “and I had a job to do.”

Veterans often modestly refer to themselves in this way, I’ve noticed, downplaying the hardships they endured. I’m more inclined to refer to them as patriots or heroes.

But Claude is not the only hero in his family. Over a period of many hours in his presence, I have gradually learned more about his background. Claude’s parents grew up in Poland, and during that time in history this was an unbelievably dangerous place to live. The Nazis invaded Poland in September of 1939, and a few years later, the Soviets came from the other direction.

Claude’s father was captured by the Nazis and forced at gunpoint to work as a mechanic for them. He escaped three times and was recaptured twice, finally escaping for good after the third time.

Claude’s mother has stories of her own. As a teenager, one of her classmates, who was something of a story teller and a braggart, boasted about wanting to become a Nazi someday. He would come back to haunt her and their other classmates, he threatened.

She was no shrinking violet, and she retorted, “If you go down that path, someday I’m going to point at your dead body and say, “You’re dead, but I am free.”

Claude says, “My mom was Polish, and she was spunky and brash.”

(A side note: my wife Laurie is mostly Polish, and I get that.)

When the Nazis came through she hid in a haystack, and they searched for her by repeatedly poking the stack with their pitchforks in an attempt to find her, missing her by inches.

Sometime later, she opened her door one day to find her cocky former classmate standing on her doorstep, dressed in the full regalia of his Nazi officer uniform, with its long black coat and high boots. He was not a boy anymore, but a man.

Instead of cowering, as many in Occupied Poland would surely have done, this gutsy young woman mouthed off to him with the worst insults she could think of. The Nazi raised his gun, pointed it at her, and shot. Fortunately, a friend had seen this unwelcome visitor, and as the soldier was raising his gun, she quickly shoved her friend into a potato cart just in the nick of time. The bullet shaved past her shoulder, missing her by a fraction of an inch. She yelled at the man until he finally left the property.

A short time later, word reached them that the young man who had shot at her had just been killed by the Soviets. Upon hearing this, she took off on foot, running toward town. When she reached the site of the skirmish, she pointed at his dead body and yelled, “I told you that someday you’d be dead and I’d be free!”

A couple of short years later, Claude’s parents escaped to the Western side of Berlin’s divide, and Claude was born in the American sector of West Berlin.

In recent years, KSTP TV covered the story of Claude’s relatives in Minnesota, not realizing that they still had immediate family in Poland who had survived the occupation, and they recently reunited with them in Minnesota.

My thanks to all the men and women who stared tyranny in the face and said: “Not anymore!

You are dead, and we are free!”