Archives for : January2019

What is God Making New in Your Life

    What Is God making New in Your Life? By Mary Zigan

              Have you got your 2019 resolution list out and in front of you? Are you determined that this year, you will stick with the diet and exercise program, or kiss your husband goodnight every night…or what is it you have planted your feet about and decided that “this year is your year.”  Well, I just heard that 80% of us resolve that “this time, we will do it,” yet it has been proven that only 11% of us follow through.

Oh, I am not diminishing what we can accomplish when we set our minds to something. We do have grit, perseverance, and plenty of opportunities to succeed. I could tell lots of success stories; here are a couple:

              A young couple I know made a decision to pay off their school loan debt of over           $70,000 and did it on teachers’ salaries in two years. They stated, “Yes, it was hard. We sacrificed, but now we enjoy the freedom that comes from disciplining ourselves.”

              Another story: a friend of mine decided last year that she was going to get the last 15    pounds off. She did, and has kept it off. In sharing with me her accomplishment, she stated: “Recovery from bondage to excess food, although painful and arduous, results in freedom.”

Both of these stories are from Christians who know they cannot go it alone. They know that as we walk the road of surrender and saturate ourselves with God’s grace we may find we receive gifts from Him we never dreamed possible.

As for me, this year I resolve to learn to draw my life from the reservoir of the resurrection life of Christ. I want to take some deep breaths, and breathe in the clean, life-giving air of God’s holiness. I’m asking Him to bless me with more of His supernatural gifts so that the resolutions I make for 2019 will be fueled by the power of God. Together we can do anything!

How about you? The end of the year and the beginning of another is an opportunity for a fresh start. What might God be making new in your life?

A Difficult Year, But it Wasn’t All Bad

2018 was a difficult year in many ways, but IT WASN’T ALL BAD . . .

           I subscribe to a cool news magazine called THE WEEK, and a column I always make a point of reading is the one called It Wasn’t All Bad.

           Here’s a sampling of some true anecdotes that they passed along to their readers to help us see that all of the news isn’t bad:

  • When Kevin Booth made an early-morning stop at a food bank in Sumner, WA, he hoped only to pick up some bread the workers leave out for homeless people like him. But he noticed a brown paper bag next to the breadbox, and looking inside, he discovered it was stuffed with $17,000 in cash. Rather than walk off with the haul, he handed it to a volunteer inside the pantry. No one claimed the money after a 90-day period, so police let the food bank—which feeds 1,000 people a month—keep it. “There are a lot of people who would have taken it,” Booth said. “I’m just not that person.” (from THE WEEK Dec. 21/Dec. 28, 2018)
  • A Magalia, CA, garbage man is being hailed as a hero after he rescued a 93-year-old woman from a fast-approaching wildfire. Driver Dane Ray Cummings had been told by his supervisor to head home to avoid the blaze, but he refused, determined to finish his route and check on older residents. At his last stop, he saw Margaret Newsum standing out on her porch, waiting for help. He seated her in his cab—breaking company protocol—and drove five hours to safety while Newsum shared her life story, including the time she sang backup to Frank Sinatra. “It was the best conversation I’ve had in a truck,” Cummings said. (from THE WEEK, Nov. 3, 2018)
  • A Minnesota woman is being likened to a superhero after she saved her husband’s life and four days later gave birth to their first child. Ashley Goette was 39 weeks pregnant when she woke to her husband, Andrew, gasping for air and suffering cardiac arrest. She performed CPR for 10 minutes until paramedics arrived and took Andrew to the hospital, where he was placed in a medically induced coma. He woke the next day, and Goette headed off to be induced. After a 22-hour labor, their son, Lennon, was born. The family is now at home together. “We’re really lucky,” said Goette.  (from THE WEEK, Nov. 9, 2018)


   ~ Sharon Sheppard

Getting a Jumpstart on Next Christmas

Getting a Jumpstart on Next Christmas . . . By Mary Zigan

            I love getting a jumpstart on Christmas. In fact, as far as I’m concerned, Christmas begins on December 1st. At least, that’s when I get out my Christmas Journal that I began in 1999. Each day of Christmas I happily journal what happens to make the season memorable. I log what I bake, the Christmas cards I send, the guests I have in, the concerts I attend, when the house gets decorated, and when our special Christmas sausage is made.

            It is so much fun planning and preparing. But all too soon, Christmas is but a memory, and then there are all the things to tear down and put away. I have a philosophy, not just at Christmas, but year-round: “Bring something in, take something out!” If you bought new things for the tree or other artifacts this year, maybe something needs to go.

            Would you like a few tips for storing and making next year’s routine less painful so you will be better prepared for the following holiday season? If so, select three areas of your home to set items out on for sorting them when you are taking them down.

  • One area is for items you are keeping and storing
  • One area is for items you are tired of and will repurpose
  • One area is for broken, shabby-looking items to be tossed

               Here are a few practical tips for storing some of those once-a-year Christmas items:

  • For extension cords…use cardboard toilet paper rolls
  • For individual ornaments…use clear plastic cups stored in beer or wine cases
  • For Christmas bulbs…egg cartons
  • Wreath…hang it on a hook and place a large trash bag over it
  • Small beads…keep in an empty water bottle
  • Wrapping paper…use a clear garment bag with hanger

           I promise, you will feel happy you took the time to carefully store your Christmas trimmings.  Might I suggest, however, Please do not stow Christ. Keep Christ not only in Christmas, but out where He can be seen through your life all year long.

New Beginnings

The year 2018 had it all:

A time to weep and a time to laugh . . . A time to mourn and a time to dance

By Sharon Sheppard

            Media outlets have showered us with a plethora of Year-in-Review lists chronicling the good, the bad, and the ugly from the previous 12 months. We’ve had lists of natural disasters, best books of the year lists, lists of movie favorites and flops, and lists of the year’s most riveting news stories, including accounts of notable political wins, losses, and faux pas.

            From the endless coverage of every minuscule detail of Harry and Meghan’s royal wedding last spring to the somber pomp and honor paid to the late President George H. W. Bush on his recent passing, our heartstrings have been duly tugged.

            But it was scenes surrounding the mourning of the President’s death that moved me most: the emotional tribute paid by his son, former President George W. Bush, and the sight of the frail, 95-year-old Robert Dole, wounded military veteran, former congressman and presidential candidate, who, with the help of an aide struggled from his wheelchair to his feet to offer a heartfelt salute before the flag-draped casket holding the earthly remains of President Bush.

            Hours of on-air time were devoted to analyzing the former President’s political legacy. But his son’s heartfelt eulogy and the silent salute of his former rival-turned-friend spoke volumes about Bush 41’s real impact.

            Turning to the first page of a new calendar is, in many ways, a sobering gesture. I’m reminded of the fact that all of us—not just the rich and famous—will leave some sort of legacy, for good or ill, whether intentional or not.

            After my dad retired, he told me that he began each day by asking, “Lord, what work do you have for me to do today?” He left a legacy of cheerfully offering encouraging words and helping hands to ease the loads of friends and neighbors in his small home town.

            So I’ve started asking myself some scary questions of my own: Have I been so caught up in my comfortable life that I overlook chances to help someone in need? Are there things I could be doing today that would make a positive difference in another person’s life? Is there someone who needs an encouraging email or phone call from me?

            Among the Christmas cards in my mail box last week were several from former college students who were in my English classes years ago. One included an account of serious health issues and financial reversals. Another former student told me his doctors say he can expect his cancer to return.

            For most of us, our deaths will make few ripples. But we can, by God’s grace, be remembered for loving and listening to some of the hurting people around us. Jesus said, “Inasmuch as you have done it to one of the least of these, you have done it unto me.”

            Gotta run now. I have a couple of letters I need to write.