Sunday, December 5, 2010

Dangers of Teen Pharming

Dangers of Teenage Pharming
by Linda Myers-Bock, Registered Pharmacist

Want to go “pharming”? Then go to a “pharm party” (thrown by teenagers); a bowl of “trail mix” (a variety of pills mixed together) is passed around for party goers to “graze” upon. Another name for such a party is a “skittles” party, since the bowl of pills looks like a bunch of Skittles brand candy. You can’t get in unless you contribute to the mix so teens obtain the pills in a number of ways.

Most teens scavenge medicine cabinets of relatives--grandparents, cousins or aunts and uncles. Some steal sibling’s or parent’s prescription medications from their own homes. It’s also possible for teens with credit card access to buy drugs online, from overseas, without a prescription. One teen reported stealing drug samples from a relative who was a drug company sales representative.

Prescription drug abuse among teens has been steadily on the rise. Three million teens have abused prescription drugs and that statistic increased 400% in the last 10 years. Many start as early as age twelve. It is also now common for kids to bring baggies of mixed pills to school to sell to friends.

This practice can lead to a variety of health problems. It can result in seizures, stroke, breathing difficulties, kidney or liver failure or even death. One 21 year old who used to be on the Dean’s List at a private university suffered permanent brain damage from a stroke she had as a result of “pharming”. She’s now living at home, undergoing therapy, and struggling to keep a job in a sandwich shop. She will never graduate from college.

What to know and do to protect your teen(s):
1. Does your teen come home seeming “out of it” but not smelling of alcohol or
smoke? A teen who has taken pills at a “pharm party” may be jittery, nauseated, have red eyes, feel hot, or have difficulty breathing.
2. When you visit relatives watch for unexpected visits to various bathrooms.
3. Check credit card purchases carefully.
4. Keep all prescription drugs locked in a storage drawer somewhere other than the bathroom medicine cabinet. (The moist heat in the bathroom degrades drugs anyway.) Inventory what you have, including inhalers.
5. Return old prescriptions to a drug “take back” program or crush and discard medications in the trash mixed with litter or coffee grounds.
6. OTC (over-the-counter) medicine can also be abused, especially cough and cold medicines. Be suspicious of empty containers in the trash.
7. Even “smart” kids abuse prescription stimulants such as Ritalin and Concerta. These drugs improve concentration for studying and tests so keep track of any ADHD meds younger children may be using. This is most common between the ages of 18 and 24.

The most important thing you, as a parent, can do is talk to your teens about the dangers of “pharming” or taking medicine in any way except as directed by your doctor or pharmacist. The following resources can be very helpful. You can also contact me by e-mail or phone if you have any questions.

Linda Myers-Bock, Registered Pharmacist

References and Resources: a DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) website

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Retired Preacher's View from the Pew

Ah, Christmas, so many memories!

My oldest memory of Christmas is when I was probably about five years old and my folks had a paid Santa Claus come to our house on Christmas Eve. When he got there he was pretty schnockered up and he tracked slush all over the living room carpet. My cousin and I were both so scared of him that he left pretty quick. I remember that because the story was repeated almost every Christmas after!

One memory which will probably be there forever was when I was about ten. My part in the Christmas program was to recite from Luke 2: And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

I practiced and practiced memorizing that part. When it came time to say it in front of the congregation I left out “into Judea”. At the time I didn’t realize it and was just relieved to have it over. Later, though, I was reminded by my Sunday School teacher (in front of the other kids) that I had left out a “very important” part of my recitation.

Later, as a teacher in Lutheran schools, the Christmas Eve Children‘s Program was one of the big events of the year. Tradition was that it was on Christmas Eve. The kids from the Lutheran School practiced every day from Thanksgiving on. The kids who didn‘t go to the Lutheran School practiced on Sundays during Sunday School. Then on the Sunday before Christmas there would be an afternoon practice with everyone present.

Finally, the big night. The little kids would get dressed in their costumes. There’d be five or six wise men and half a dozen angels and who knows how many shepherds (easy costumes-a blanket and a stick) but only one Mary and Joseph. The teachers would be making sure all the kids were there, going over last minute reminders and instructions, lining the kids up.
And one thing that was always important- find the child who says, “And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger” and remind them not to pause after “and the babe”. (If you pause there they’d all three be in the manger!)

As the principal I would make sure every teacher had a couple of brown paper bags. There’s nothing that can upset a program more than one of the kids throwing up on the ones around them!

Another tradition was that after the service was over each child would be given a bag with an apple or orange and about 25 lbs. of candy and peanuts. Just what they needed at Christmas!
Over the years we ran into a few glitches. Like the blizzard that kept about half of the kids from making it on Christmas Eve. Lots of gaps in the Christmas story, but most everyone knows it well enough that they understood.

In the first church where I was the principal one of the girls was given a small part because she rarely was in Sunday School. After the service I got a phone call from her Dad. “My daughter got a new red dress for the Christmas program and her Grandma hardly got to see it because she had such a small part.” At that same church we decided to take the offering at the door after the service and not have to deal with sixty restless kids for the five minutes while the offering was taken. I got a phone call about that, too. “The biggest church service of the year and we don‘t take an offering.” “We took one at the door.” “But people can get by without putting anything in.”

There was the father who had begun his Christmas celebration too early and was quite disruptive even before things got started. The ushers helped him out of the church. And the uncle who showed up wearing a racing jacket with “Viagra” in big letters over the back. I got quite a few phone calls about that one!

Christmas was always sort of bittersweet when I was a teacher involved with the children’s programs. The same, too, when I was the Pastor of a church. All the preparations and activities packed into one or two services. A packed church on Christmas Eve and Day, but then the weeks after… The same folks who won’t be there again until Easter. The kids you won’t see in Sunday School until it’s time to begin practice next year. The people who come to watch the kids but have no thought of worshipping the Savior.

Jesus can get lost pretty easily at Christmas, can’t He? Sometimes with all the things we have to do in the church and with our families it can be pretty hard to keep things in perspective. Christmas is all about Jesus. Jesus, who came to the manger to go to the cross to suffer and to die to save us from our sins. It’s all about Jesus.

May you be blessed with good memories this Christmas, but most of all the hope that Jesus brings.

(Perhaps my favorite Christmas memory. We’d get our girls into the van to go to church on Christmas Eve. After they were all packed in my wife, Mary, would have to go back into the house because she’d forgotten her purse. Then she’d get out the presents “from Santa” that had been hidden away and put them under the Christmas tree. One year, when the oldest was six or seven, she said to me, very seriously, while we were waiting for Mom, “Dad, we know why Mom really goes back into the house. But don’t tell her we know because we don’t want her to feel bad.”)

Columbus Art Gallery

The Columbus Art Gallery
“The Best Kept Secret in Columbus”

by Shelly Burke, Editor

Lisa Rosendahl and Susan Schoenhofer want people to know that art is not intimidating and that it is for everyone! Rosendahl has been the Columbus Art Gallery Manager for two years and Schoenhofer is the Executive Director of the Columbus Arts Council, of which the Columbus Art Gallery is a part.

Although it has been located in the lower level of the Columbus Library (2504 14th Street) since 1984, many people are not aware that there is an art gallery in Columbus! Rosendahl says that the gallery exhibits a large variety of artwork and promises “something for everyone’s taste.” There is no cost to visit the gallery.

There are 12 exhibits a year and in 2010 the exhibits focused on Nebraska artists. As Rosendahl says, “Our state is filled with amazingly talented artists,” including Mike Hagel (brother of former Senator Chuck Hagel), who has artwork at SAC Airforce Museum and many other military museums, and Mario Arango, a Cuban native who now lives in Nebraska. Arango’s art was popular in Cuba and his paintings are in the Cuban Embassy in Canada.

When a new exhibit opens, the gallery hosts an Opening Reception at which visitors can meet (and be inspired by) the artist.

Every spring the Columbus Art Gallery sponsors a traveling exhibit from either the Sheldon Museum of Art in Lincoln or the Museum of Nebraska Art (MONA) in Kearney. Over 900 students typically tour these exhibits and create art projects related to that exhibit.

The gallery also works with the library upstairs. The library staff and Rosendahl have developed a StoryART program with Mr. H (Brad Hruska), the Children’s Librarian, and have also done projects with Rachelle McPhillips, the Young Adult/Teen Library Director.

The gallery offers a variety of youth and adult classes (jewelry-making classes will be offered this spring), workshops, and even concerts. Recently Thunder Power, a group from Omaha, and Gunnar Cleeman from Denmark and The Homestories from Switzerland, performed. Rosendahl hopes to have Gunnar return in the spring of 2011. The concerts and exhibits are sure to fit everyone’s budget, as they are FREE!

Beginning November 29th, you can even do your Christmas shopping at the Columbus Art Gallery! During the annual “Christmas Unwrapped” event the formal exhibit space is turned into a gift shop featuring the work of artisans from across Nebraska.

The large variety of unique merchandise includes glass, wood, stained glass, photography, ornaments, stationery items, home d├ęcor, books by local authors, and much more! Most gifts are priced under $100 (many under $20) and commission from sales goes back into funding educational programs the gallery offers. Hours will be extended during “Christmas Unwrapped;” you can shop from 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM Monday through Thursday; 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM on Friday, and 1:30PM -4:30 PM on Saturday.

Regular hours for the gallery are Noon – 5 PM Monday through Thursday; Noon – 4:30 PM on Friday, and 1:30 PM – 4:30 PM on Saturday. Groups are welcome; call ahead to schedule a special tour by appointment. Contact Lisa at (402) 563-1016. Check out for more information on upcoming events.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

December Editor's Letter

Merry Christmas!

And Happy 19th Birthday Cody! He was born today, November 18th, at just about the time I’m writing this letter. What a joy it has been to be a parent to both Cody and Morgan!

Cody is in Louisville, KY today, with Tim. He won the steer show at the Livestock Exposition last weekend, and his steer Crash sells this evening. It was Cody’s last cattle show so was a great end to his showing career. Morgan and I were unable to go to the show, but it was broadcast over the Internet so we were able to watch from home. Cody, Morgan, and Tim worked many, many hours to get Crash ready for the show, and it was nice to see their hard work pay off.

For the most part it’s been fun to be a parent, but there are scary times too, and we had a scary time about three weeks ago when Morgan was diagnosed with viral meningitis. Viral meningitis is much less serious than bacterial meningitis, but Morgan was in a lot of pain and very sick for a few days. Thankfully our prayers were answered and she is recovering. She is attending her first full day of school since she got sick, today.

I really enjoyed putting this issue of the Nebraska Family Times together. Tracy Buzynski, who helps with promotion and publication (and great ideas!) compiled the Human Services Awareness list. I hope you will consider helping out one or more of these organizations if you are able to.

Several people commented on how they enjoyed the Christmas Quiz in the December issue of the paper last year, so I included a quiz in this issue as well! I hope you enjoy it.

Teen “pharming” is an issue that has, unfortunately, come to the Columbus area. Educate yourself on “pharming” by reading “Dangers of Pharming,” by Pharmacist Linda Myers-Bock, in this issue.

I hope you enjoy the variety of articles in this issue of the paper! If you have any suggestions or comments on articles in this issue, or issues you’d like to see covered in a future edition of the paper, please let me know! I appreciate your comments, suggestions, and yes, even complaints. My mission is to “encourage, inspire, and motivate you on your Christian walk,” and I pray that I do that every month.

May God bless you and your family this Christmas season!

This is a picture of my computer screen which shows Cody showing Crash.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Retired Preacher's View from the Pew

Hebrews 10:25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Statistics (if you can believe them) show that less that 40% the people who call themselves Christians attend a worship service on a weekly basis.

When I was a fulltime preacher either before or after the worship service I would try to greet as many people as possible. I tried to vary the greetings: “How’s the new grandchild?” “Get to go fishing last week?” “How’s the new car?” “Got all your corn in yet?” “Feeling better after your bout with the flu?“ It was a way to feel closer to the people, to let them know you were in tune with their lives. Usually the remark was prefaced by “Good to see you.”

I can remember vividly when “Good to see you” backfired! The people it backfired with worshipped just a few times a year and took “Glad to see you” as a dig that they weren’t there most of the time. There were several times I was told that Mr. & Mrs. ____or so and so took “Glad to see you” as “Where have you been and why aren’t you here more often?”

Once I was told, “My son and his family finally came to church and they’re not coming again because you offended them.” “How did I do that?” “You told them you were glad to see them and other people heard you.”

So, what to do? Greet the people who are there regularly and forget the rest? (I have to admit that in my mind whenever I saw those folks I’d be tempted to greet them by saying, “Boy, I’m sure not very happy to see you today” or, “Bad hair day, huh?” or, “Been so long since you’ve been here I almost forgot your names.” I resisted the impulse and would just say “Good morning.”

I still like to greet as many people as I can when I get to my home church. We get there once or twice a month because I’m filling in at other churches. I had preached at my home church two weeks in a row and the following week a husband and wife who are “occasional worshippers” greeted my wife and me with “We haven’t seen you for a long time.” My wife quickly responded with, “Yes, it’s good to be here.” I told her later that I wanted to say, “Well, I preached here the last two weeks, didn‘t see you here.” She said, “I know, and I wasn’t going to give you the chance.”

My son-in-law from Canada says that people who attend church faithfully know where they’ll probably be the morning of November 28, or the morning of January 16, 2011, even March 20, next year (all Sundays). They’ll be in worship somewhere. He also says that the people who don’t attend worship regularly don’t decide until the night before or even on Sunday morning whether they‘ll go to church.

No, you don’t have to go to church to be a Christian. Do you have to go golfing to be a golfer or go fishing to be a fisherman or go to the Lion’s Club meetings to be a Lion? You don’t have to, but you will. And Christians will worship with other Christians regularly. It’s what they do, not because they have to but because it’s part of being what they are.

A closing thought--with Thanksgiving just ahead, we have to ask oursleves the question: "Am I thankful enough for the 168 hours God has given me this past week to give him a couple of hours back?"


Monday, November 1, 2010

November Editor's Letter

Giving Thanks

Give thanks, with a grateful heart,
Give thanks, to the Holy One,
Give thanks, because He’s given Jesus Christ, His Son…
And now, let the weak say “I am strong”,
Let the poor say “I am rich,” because of what the Lord has done for us,
Give thanks.

This is one of my favorite “thanksgiving” songs. I definitely have a grateful heart this month, first of all because God did give Jesus Christ, His Son, for me and for all believers.

I am also thankful to God for my family and the wonderful times we have together with each other, and with our friends. Cody’s steer, Otter, was the Grand Champion at the AK-SAR-BEN cattle show last month! It was a great way for Cody to end his years showing at AK-SAR-BEN (he will be too old next year). Cody’s good friend Nathan had the Champion Market Hog; we got a unique and fun picture of Cody and Nathan with their champion animals. No one was quite sure if the calf and pig would get along, but they behaved just fine, as you can see from the picture.

Morgan’s heifer Sadie was the Reserve Champion Chianina heifer at AKSARBEN, and Morgan was in the showmanship finals as well. It was a very good show for us and for many of our friends.

Morgan is keeping very busy with school activities; she recently joined the speech team. I am thankful that I’ve already learned about Avogadro’s Number and figuring out the atomic mass of a compound (I might have learned it, but I can’t say I remember it, although Morgan tried to explain it to me…).

Tim is thankful for the nice weather we’ve had recently. We are getting ready for the annual cattle sale in November (“we” as in Tim does all the hard work and I take phone messages when necessary!).

I’m thankful that I love my work—my work as a nurse as well as my work as the Editor and Publisher of the Nebraska Family Times,

By this time last year, we’d already had a snow storm! Remember how long and cold the winter was? I’m thankful that I can already say that ”This winter is shorter than last winter.”

I’m thankful for everyone who reads the Nebraska Family Times, especially when they take the time to tell me when they’ve enjoyed an article, and even when they have a suggestion for something I could do differently. Thanks also for spreading the word about the paper; it’s my prayer that it will get into the hands of everyone who needs encouragement, inspiration, and motivation on their Christian walk (don’t we all?).

Thank you to the Nebraska Family Times advertisers and sponsors, as well! Without you the paper could not be published. I enjoy delivering the paper every month and meeting the people who work in the businesses that sponsor and support the paper.

I hope you enjoy the Thanksgiving edition of the Nebraska Family Times! Thanks to everyone who sent in their contribution for “Keeping Christ in Christmas.” You will see some of their ideas in the Play Room section of the paper. More ideas will appear in the December issue of the paper; please send your input to

I know that while I might not be rich by the standards of the world, I am definitely rich in what the Lord has done for me and for my family. I pray that the Lord will bless you richly, as well.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

A Retired Preacher's View from the Pew

The story is told (you’ll have to use your imagination for this one) of a small country church in Michigan that discovered Michigan crude under church property. If you’ve ever traveled through north central Michigan you might have seen some of those small oil wells pumping slowly but steadily away. A well was dropped and soon all the church’s bills were paid. Then a new church was built and a parsonage. The pastor got a raise and a church secretary was hired. The church doubled and quadrupled the money it sent away for mission work and to help the poor. And the well kept pumping.

A church meeting was held. What to do with all the money? A motion was made that when all the bills were paid, when all the mission money was sent away, whatever was left would be divided among the members. Motion carried. As the meeting was about to be adjourned old

Fred, a lifelong member of the church stood up and made another motion, “I move that we take in no new members until the well runs dry.”

I doubt there are many, if any, churches that don’t want to take in new members. It was and continues to be the directive of Jesus, “Go ye therefore…“ Matthew 28:18. It’s part of the Christian life, to bring others to know Christ and to be a part of the Holy Christian Church. Not only that, if a church doesn’t take in new members it probably won’t be around very long.

There are over 100 churches listed on the church page of the Bolivar Herald Free-Press (and many listed in local newspapers in Nebraska, as well). Thirty-nine of them have a Bolivar address. All different kinds: Baptist, Missionary Baptist, Fundamental Baptist, Southern Baptist, Bible Baptist, Berean Baptist, Assembly of God, Nazarene, Church of God, Church of Christ, Pentecostal, Presbyterian, United Methodist, Episcopal, Roman Catholic. There’s also a Community Church, a New life Community Church and a New Heart Foursquare Church, a Freshwater Church. (Forgive me if I left someone out.)

And last of all--Zion Lutheran. Zion is Missouri Synod Lutheran. There are also Wisconsin Synod Lutherans and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America and other smaller groups of Lutherans.

Many of us go to the denomination we grew up in or married into. We go because that’s what we do. But what about those who don’t have a church, those we are called to reach out to? It must be pretty confusing to them. “There’s a Church of God and a Church of Christ. Isn’t Christ God?” “There are several that call themselves Christian Churches. Does that mean the others aren’t Christian?” “There are several Community churches. Do you have to live in that town to go there?” “There’s a Bible Church and an Open Bible Church. Don’t they all use the Bible?”

What’s in a name? Not much when it comes to churches. We all know what the name of our church means (at least I hope we do) and what we believe in our denomination. But how about someone who’s new to it all? And I remind us all again--these are the people we are to reach out to.

A friend of mine said, “When we go to heaven our denomination falls off and when we go to hell it burns off.”

No matter what denomination of Christianity, we are all brothers and sisters in Christ. We all have the same responsibility of sharing our faith and spreading the Gospel. It is especially important that our pastors equip us so we can effectively explain what we believe and what our church has to offer as Baptist Christians, Methodist Christians, and whatever denomination of Christianity we are.

Peter put it this way: “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” 1 Peter 3:15b.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Editor's Letter October

Last month I was “challenged” by computer problems. Ultimately the experts found that I’d used up all the memory on my old computer, and that’s why it was giving me problems. Thankfully, they had a refurbished computer, with four times the memory, that was within my budget. I was very happy that they (“they” being Chopper’s Computers in Columbus) were able to transfer everything from my old computer, to the new (new to me) computer. The only thing I was unable to access was all of my accounting records, meaning I had to re-enter them all. I’d printed out all of the records just a few months ago so was able to get them all re-entered in just a few days. And my new computer works great!

Ecclesiastes tells us that ”There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). September seems to have been my time for breaking things. I was surprised to walk into our laundry room a few weeks ago into several inches of water…thankfully the washing machine just needed a minor part replaced.

Almost as soon as the washing machine was back in working order, the microwave made a scary “BZZZZT” noise and stopped working. We got by for several weeks…until the stove made a similar noise, followed by a “POP” and a little whisp of smoke…unfortunately the repair man said that there is no “repair” for the stove. I briefly considered challenging myself to cook for my family using only the George Foreman grill, griddle, and crock pot…but I think my family would quickly grow tired of that. We got a new microwave yesterday, and will be getting a new stove soon. (If you have any recommendations as to what brand to get, please let me know!)

One friend suggested that maybe the appliances breaking was my sign that I was supposed to take a break from laundry and cooking. Another friend, who was on a trip when all of this happened, texted me that she was glad that I wasn’t on the airplane with her as she was returning home!

I don’t know if there is a message in all of the things that have broken…but I do know that every time something works as it’s supposed to, I’m thankful!

Cody came home from college last weekend and we were all happy to see him. I’m not sure if he was happier to see us, or his cattle! He’s enjoying college life. Morgan has been very busy with her school activities and taking care of Cody’s cattle. The AK-SAR-BEN cattle show is this weekend, and we are all looking forward to it!

I really enjoyed putting together this issue of the Nebraska Family Times! The article Chocolate Covered Grace shows us all how God’s grace can cover all of our mess-ups and sins. Loving and Lumping reminds us that our actions can influence what others think of Christians.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Domestic Abuse Awareness Month. Neither of these topics are uplifting, but they are issues that are relevant to us all. I hope the articles in this issue of the Nebraska Family Times will increase your awareness and encourage action when needed.

Please continue to share your ideas for “Keeping Christ in Christmas”! I will share your ideas in the next two issues of the paper, so you can consider including some of them in your Christmas celebration.

May God bless you this fall!

It will be with relief that I click “Send” and get this last item of the paper sent in…and I hope that nothing else breaks for at least a few months!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Erstwhile Farm; "Helping you bring good food home"

Erstwhile Farm
“Helping you bring good food home.”
By Shelly Burke, Editor

The definition of “erstwhile” is former; of times past. Larry and Lanette Stec, owners of Erstwhile Farm, LLC, a small sustainable third generation family farm, have worked hard to combine farming practices of the past with modern business practices.

On a tour several weeks ago, it was easy to see that Larry and Lanette love what they are doing—raising hogs and chickens without added growth hormones or antibiotics. The animals live outside, on dirt, in the fresh air and sunshine.

Chickens live in a moveable coop (sometimes surrounded by a moveable fence so they don’t eat from the garden) so they always have access to fresh food and can wander at will. Hogs wallow happily in mud holes. The Stecs also have a large garden and grow certified grains. Crops are rotated to cut down on weeds and keep the soil healthy.

For most of their lives the Stecs have enjoyed country living. Several years ago they decided to go organic with their crops and raise outdoor hogs. Of their decision to change the focus to chemical and antibiotic-free “farm goodness,” Larry says, “We could see that if we wanted to continue to enjoy raising pigs, we would have to add value to what we were already producing, instead of becoming a larger farm. Making the change (to go organic) was a bit scary, as there was not a local mentor to guide us. We relied on the guidance of God, through the ups and downs, with faith that this was the right decision for us. We have seen God’s hand in how the land and animals can be healthy, naturally.”

The Stecs obviously enjoy the hard work of running a business. Their children, Kellan, age 23, and Bethany, 21, and Trevor, 18, helped with the “hands on” aspects of the farm—pulling weeds, sorting pigs—when they lived at home. Now Kellan is working on setting up a website for the business. Bethany contributes her photography talents in creating brochures and advertising. Trevor will go to college this fall.

The Stecs offer organic eggs for sale, as well as seasonable vegetables and different cuts of pork. Produce and eggs are sold from the farm and at several locations in Lincoln (see below for locations). Special orders are accepted.

Recently the Stecs added fresh pork brats to their line of products. Larry and Lanette experimented to get the recipes “just right” and worked many hours to get the recipes and package labels approved so they could sell the brats. They offer several varieties of brats and they are all delicious!

Erstwhile Farm is managed as farms in the past were managed, but Larry and Lanette are always looking ahead. Future goals include growing the business on a local scale and possibly by mail order. They are also doing a feasibility study and may become certified organic with their livestock.

For more information or to purchase products from Erstwhile Farm
Columbus Area: please call {(402) 897-4065} or e-mail, for on-farm pick up.

Lincoln Area: Items may be purchased at Open Harvest, 1618 E. South St., or Idea Grocery, 905 S. 27th St.

Greater Eastern Nebraska Nebraska Food Cooperative (, online year-round farmers market and local food distribution service.

Erstwhile Farm is also on Facebook.

Monday, August 2, 2010

A Retired Preacher's View from the Pew

On an early morning call a vet drove by a friend’s place and noticed he had herded his pigs into the front yard and they were eating apples that had fallen. Several days later when he drove by the farmer was picking up each of the pigs and holding them up to pick an apple from the tree.

An hour later when he drove back the farmer was lifting the last pig to get its apple.

He stopped and asked, “Fred, what are you doing?”

Fred, “The pigs liked the apples that fell to the ground so much that they ate them all, so I’m lifting them up so they can get them off the tree.”

“Isn’t that a lot of work, Fred?”

“I need the exercise.”

“But doesn’t that take a lot of time?”

“Just a couple of hours every day. Besides, what’s time to a pig?”

My Dad hated to get anywhere late, but especially church services. He would rather have been fifteen minutes early than one minute late. His feeling was that it’s pretty inconsiderate to make people wait for you when you’re late. (Yes, there are times it can’t be helped.) His attitude rubbed off on me.

Unfortunately, it’s not that way with everybody. But did you ever notice, often it’s the same people who are late over and over? There are some folks who will probably be late to their own funeral.

I have always considered the time we share worshipping together as one of the most important times, if not the most important time of the Christian’s week. If, as the Pastor, I didn’t think that, why would my parishioners? That time of corporate worship, whether it’s an hour or two hours, is precious, as is all our time.

Consider that the person who works all week takes the time to worship out of their free time.

Consider the farmer or the vet or the doctors and others who are “on call” 24/7. Consider the people who take time off from their job to attend church. (We know a lady who’s a really good cook in a small restaurant who takes time off from her job to go to church every Sunday. It was part of the agreement with her boss.) How about the Dad and Mom who work all week and on Saturday have to get all the shopping and chores done that keep the household running?

We sometimes attend a church which starts late so often that “late” has become “on time“.

Sometimes it’s only two or three minutes, more often, five or more. There might be a hundred people in their pews ready to go, but they all are expected to wait while the powers that be take their time getting their act together. While they’re taking their own time, they’re taking the time of the people waiting for them, too.

David wrote in the 29th Psalm:
Ascribe to the LORD the glory due His name;
worship the LORD in the splendor of His holiness.

More importantly, what does it say about us and our attitudes toward the glory and splendor of God and worshipping Him when we can’t even start on time?
Allen Geil is a retired pastor/teacher/hog farmer who lived in Nebraska for 18 years and now lives in Missouri.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

August Editor's Letter

We have had a great summer so far! Morgan was the Grand Champion Intermediate Showman at the Charolais Jr. National Show in South Dakota, and Cody had the Grand Champion Steer at the Platte County Fair! It was a great way for him to end his county fair career—he will be too old to show at the fair next year. Tim and I really enjoyed watching both kids compete; the competition was tough in both events. And we also watched them enjoy time with their friends before and after the shows.

Big changes are ahead for our family; Cody will leave for college (he’s going to Kansas State University) in August. He’s excited to start this new stage in his life. We will miss him but we’re also excited for him. Morgan has been busy with FFA and FBLA meetings and she’s getting excited to start her junior year. She’s ridden her horse, Maggie, several times this summer. It’s fun to watch them ride across the pasture.

Tim is busy preparing for the club calf internet sale Sept. 12th. All the cattle will have pictures and a short video on the internet. This technology makes it easy for people from anywhere in the country to view the cattle and bid.

August is a big “anniversary” month for our family. Tim and I will celebrate our 21st anniversary on August 5th; my mom and dad will be married 45 years on August 21st, and my Grandma and Grandpa Christian will celebrate 68 years together on August 19th. Our family is blessed to have examples of enduring marriages.

I really enjoyed putting together this issue of the Nebraska Family Times! You’ll find a wide variety of articles about both local and national events.

I would like to encourage every mom of pre-school aged children to consider joining a MOPS group (you’ll find an article about MOPS in the paper this month). I was a member of the first MOPS group in the Columbus area, when Morgan was in pre-school. I so enjoyed meeting other Christian moms and sharing both joys and challenges with them. It was reassuring to talk with the other moms at MOPS and realize that no matter what I’d done, or what one of my kids had done, someone else had had the same experience. Many friends I made in MOPS are still friends today.

This is the final month the Reader Questionnaire will appear in the paper; please fill it out so I can produce a paper that you will enjoy, and that will “encourage, inspire, and motivate you” in your Christian walk. Thanks to all who have already filled out and returned their questionnaire.

If you would like an extra copy of the Nebraska Family Times to share with a friend, call or e-mail. I’ll be happy to send up to 5 copies (at no charge) for you to share.

Enjoy the rest of summer, and God’s blessings to everyone who reads the Nebraska Family Times!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Camp Luther; "Faith, Fun, and Friends"

Camp Luther
“Faith, Fun, and Friends”

by Shelly Burke, Editor

“Faith, Fun, and Friends” is the theme of Camp Luther this year, and more than 400 campers will experience faith, fun, and friends as they take part in various camps this summer.

Camp Luther is located 5 miles north of Highway 30 between Columbus and Schuyler.
Camp Luther's site is about an hour and a half drive from Omaha, Lincoln, and Grand Island, and about an hour from Norfolk, York, and Seward.

Hank Rausch, Executive Director of Camp Luther, says, “Camp Luther is a small, personal camp that emphasizes relationships between the campers and other campers, campers and staff members, and most importantly, campers and their faith.” During the day campers may spend Time Alone With God (TAWG), and each day includes Bible study and campfire devotions. (Camp Luther is a Service Organization of the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod, but its programs are open to all).

According to Rausch, 50-75% of summer staff members are former campers who have come back to be counselors, because of the positive experiences they had at Camp Luther and the relationships they built during those years.

During the summer campers are offered a wide variety of camps from which to choose; as well as traditional camps for grades 1-10, guests may attend Parent/Child Camp, Grandparent/Grandchild Camp, Family Camp, and Adult Summer Activities. Specialty camps cater to those interested in sports, science, survival skills, and volunteer opportunities. Rausch was quick to point out that although there is a charge for attending camp, no child will ever be turned away due to lack of funds.

Campers spend their time outdoors on bike trails, swimming, taking part in hot dog roasts, and participating in other outdoor activities. Many camps include a night camping outside (although all the rain this summer has made that difficult during some weeks!).

A Special Needs Camp is offered for developmentally challenged individuals age 13-adult. During the Special Needs Camp, each camper is paired with a buddy to help them make the most of their experience.

Camp Luther isn’t just for camping; events take place throughout the year. Activities scheduled for this fall include a Men’s Ministry Retreat, Outdoor Education for Small Schools, a Jr. High Retreat, and Women’s Scrapbooking Retreat. Buildings are available for rental (for group meetings or wedding receptions, for example), and camping facilities are also available.

Volunteer opportunities are available for adults who would like to help out with meals or assisting with maintenance during a camp. Junior Servants may volunteer to help wherever needed. Volunteers can help with projects during the year, or donate money or specific items.

For more information about camps, other activities, or volunteering or making a donation, see the website ( or call (402) 352-5655.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Cody's Last Platte County Fair

It was a day filled with bittersweet feelings. Cody showed today for the last time at the Platte County Fair. Cody first showed at the county fair when he was only 8 years old. We have so many wonderful memories of the fair--showing cattle, fun times with friends, and the weather--it's almost always steaming hot during the county fair.

Today Cody showed Crash, and Crash was named Champion Market Steer! Cody had never had the Champion steer at the county fair this year, and it was a great way to end his county-fair career.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Summer Fun--Cattle Shows! Charolais Junior Nationals

Morgan (and her heifer Princess) beat out more than 70 other competitors to be named Champion Showman at the Charolais Junior Nationals in South Dakota. Great job Morgan and Princess!

Friday, July 2, 2010

First Nebraska Christian Music Festival a Success!

First Nebraska Christian Music Festival a Success!

[NFT] The First Nebraska Christian Musical was held June 20th at Brickyard Park in Hastings, NE. Despite storms the night before and threatening clouds throughout the day, there were smiles all around on the faces of organizers, volunteers, performers, and those listening to the music (see the June issue of the Nebraska Family Times for a list of performers).

According to organizer Dr. Mike Skoch, one of the organizers, “The festival was a rousing success by all measures. We are very grateful to those who braved the day, clouds and all. The music was simply outstanding! From the first band - Social Contradiction of Omaha - to the final group - the Salem Baptist Choir - also from Omaha - there was not a single group that even came close to disappointment. At one point I found myself sitting backstage with tears in my eyes at the wonder of it all, and the magnitude of God's infinite love for all of us. The music moved me. One of the day’s performers said, "Music speaks a language that words cannot."

According to Skoch, the Christian Music Festival will be held again next year, probably in August. The website, will be updated when dates are determined, and the Nebraska Family Times will also print information as it becomes available.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Editor's Letter July 2010

I hope you are enjoying your summer!

It’s been a busy month for our family. I’m so happy that Cody and Morgan are home from school for the summer! I don’t get to see them a lot, as they’re very busy with their cattle and helping Tim at the ranch, but it’s still nice to know they’re close by.

We’ve been to several cattle shows this month and next month is the Platte County Fair. Morgan will also be showing at the National Chianina show in Springfield, IL. As well as showing her heifers Sadie and Unforgettable, Morgan will be taking part in several contests, including Salesmanship, Team Fitting, Livestock Judging, and Public Speaking.

Cody went to Manhattan, KS, for college orientation several weeks ago. He became more familiar with the college and enjoyed getting to know some of his soon-to-be classmates and choosing his classes. I think he is excited to start college.

I hope you enjoy this issue of the Nebraska Family Times!

Please fill out the Reader Questionnaire and return it to me. By reading your answers and suggestions, I can make sure I’m printing and writing articles that are of interest to you and will “Inspire, encourage, and motivate you in your Christian walk.”

I had the pleasure of attending the first Nebraska Christian Music Festival in Hastings, NE, last week. Rain threatened all day, but did not interfere with the fun of meeting and hearing performers. I enjoyed meeting several people who planned the event, and I’m happy to report they are planning to hold the Festival again next year! You’ll see a report of the Festival in the paper this month.

If you are planning, or aware of, any Christian events, please let me know! I enjoy writing about and promoting those events, and readers enjoy knowing about and attending them. You can reach me at (402) 993-2467, (402) 750-3496, or

May God bless you and your family this month!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Columbus Women Encourages Kids

Columbus Businesswoman Encourages Kids

By Shelly Burke, Editor

As every mom does, Tracy Buzynski wanted her daughter to become a well-rounded, happy child (Tracy gives her mom credit for her own happy childhood). Tracy saw the pressures her daughter Shannon, age 11, and her friends faced every day at school, and wanted to find a way to encourage them. “We are all given positive and negative labels throughout our lives,” Tracy says, “so why not give kids positive labels to encourage them? How would a positive label make a difference in kids’ school and personal lives?”

Tracy prayed to find a way to give her daughter and her friends positive labels, as well as build character and instill life values. Her prayers led her to combine her background as a graphic artist and her experiences owning an advertising agency, and start her business, Encourage Me Kids. The Encourage Me Kids website features products kids will see and use every day—bookmarks, refrigerator or locker magnets, posters, book-bag tags, and agenda markers. All items are personalized and carry a positive, value-filled message for that child related to his or her interests.

For example, the True Friend line reinforces three values:
• Be Yourself! GOD made the one and only perfect you!• Be a Friend! The only way to have a friend is to be one.• Be Forgiving! No one is perfect, forgive and you will be forgiven.

The Cowboy series, perfect for little boys, encourages:
• Cowboy Up! Be courageous and do what’s right.• Be Honest! Tell the truth partner, honesty is absolute.• Show your true grit! Stand up for what you believe in. A cowboy worth his salt lives by the golden rule.

Shannon helps her mom come up with wording and design ideas, which they then present to Shannon’s friends for input. Tracy says, “They are the best critics.” The kids have approved lines featuring Kool Cat, Monkey, Patriot (with sayings from George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin), and a Penguin. The items are appropriate for children in grade-school.
Tracy’s future plans include expanding her line to include products for middle-school age kids.

Tracy’s husband, Mark, has supported Tracy in her business. “I couldn’t follow my dreams without his love and support,” Tracy says. As all business owners do, Tracy has faced challenges. Keeping up with doing business through the ever-changing Internet and the social media craze (including Facebook) are a challenge, as is finding the time to get ideas from the design stage and on to the web site (

Tracy has seen God’s hand at work throughout the process of building Encourage Me Kids, from product design to getting funding. Tracy says, “The Lord is my business partner. I have started a journal of all the great things that have happened along the way. I am tithing with all the proceeds. In the Bible, God tells us to test Him in this (Malachi 3:10), so with every order I take His portion off the top.”

May God bless your business, Tracy!

For more information e-mail Tracy at:, or contact her by phone at 402-562-8255 or by mail: Celebrating Design, 2804 8th Street, Columbus, NE, 68601

Reader Questionnaire

The goal of the Nebraska Family Times newspaper is “To inspire, encourage, and motivate you in your Christian walk.” My prayer every month is that I will write and publish articles that will do just that. How am I doing? Please fill out the following questionnaire and let me know what parts of the paper you enjoy, what you don’t enjoy as much, what you’d like to see more of, and any suggestions you have for improving the paper.

Please mail your completed questionnaire to: Shelly Burke, Nebraska Family Times, 42887 G. G. Road, Genoa, NE, 68640. You may also e-mail your responses to

This questionnaire will appear in the June, July, and August issues of the Nebraska Family Times.

If you include your name and address, your completed questionnaire is a chance for you to win a prize package that will include books, CD’s, and CHOCOLATE! One winner will be chosen every month. You do not have to include contact information if you wish to submit your questionnaire anonymously.

Thank you for taking the time to fill out the questionnaire!

What is your age?
o Under 20 years old
o 21-40 years old
o 41-55 years old
o 55+ years old

Do you have Internet access?
o Yes
o No

Do you have a cell phone?
o Yes
o No

Do you work outside your home?
o No
o Part-time
o Full-time

Do you homeschool?
o Yes
o No

Are the Nebraska Family Times readers in your home:
o Male
o Female
o Both

How many children live in your home?
o 0
o 1-4
o 5 or more

How old are the children who live in your home (please check all that apply):
o 0-1 years old
o 2-4 years old
o 4-6 years old
o 6-9 years old
o 10-12 years old
o 13-18 years old
o 19+ years old

Are you a grandparent?
o Yes
o No

Regarding length, are the articles in general:
o Too long
o Too short
o A good mix of long, medium, and short articles

What topics would you like to continue to see (or see more of) in the NFT?
(check all that apply)
o Health
o Child development
o Parenting teenagers
o Education
o Nebraska News
o Religion/devotional/inspiration
o Book/CD/movie reviews
o Recipes
o Household tips
o Time management
o Financial

What do you like most about the Nebraska Family Times?


Name/address/phone/e-mail (optional)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Columbus Kids Prepare for PINK Trip

1C, Peace Kids Prepare for PINK Trip

[NFT] For the sixth year, the PINK (Peace Inspiring Native Kids) group will be traveling to Cormorant, Canada, to teach native children Vacation Bible School. This year participants from 1C church in Columbus will be going as well. The group of 12 kids and 7 adult chaperones will be leaving July 23 and returning July 31st.

According to Tamra Boettcher, Youth Leader and chaperone, “Several of the students have been on this trip before and are very passionate about the mission. The newcomers are equally excited about the experience to get to meet children of the Native American culture and help them get to know Jesus.”

Reid Fullner, Alea Smith, and Ryan Coffee have all been on the trip before, and when asked what they’re most looking forward to, each said the same thing: “Seeing the kids again and watching them grow in their faith and learn more about God.” Mariah Spady is going on her first trip to Canada, and she anticipates the trip will “help me in my spiritual walk by allowing me to share my faith with others more freely and readily.”

The kids have weekly DEN meetings to help grow their faith and prepare them for the trip, and they have been working throughout the year to earn money for the trip by doing fundraisers and service projects.

Cormorant, a village of about 400 people, is 1100 miles from Columbus. Many in Cormorant live in poverty, and crime and drugs are prevalent. Despite the challenges of the trip, Craig and Lisa Brestel, first-time chaperones, are looking forward to it. “The trip will help us both grow with God through helping others, and we’re looking forward to watching the kids in action,” says Lisa.

Kirk Nelson, a chaperone going on his first trip to Canada, summarizes the goal of the trip (and the goal we should all have, no matter where our journey takes us); “Our most important mission is to share God’s message of love with the people we will see on our journey.”

Please pray for the safety and success of this group as they travel!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Book Review: College 101: Campus Life for Christians

By Shelly Burke

I was looking for a book to prepare my son for college, spiritually as well as emotionally. College 101 is a small, unintimidating book, subtitled Campus Life for Christians. As I paged through it, I knew it would be the perfect book for him, and for any student heading to college.

College 101 covers a comprehensive range of topics relevant to college-bound students—from what to expect in a roommate, what to bring to college (including the “Rule of Fourteen”—fourteen days’ worth of clothes, forcing the reader to do laundry every two weeks and preventing smelly consequences of having too many clothes and not doing laundry), and preparing by getting to know the Bible.

The book discusses the emotional impact of moving away from home, actually meeting a new roommate, and making friends. Plenty of practical advice is included; options for buying books cheaply, why to lock the room door every night, and wearing flip-flops in the shower. The authors suggest finding the health center and asking about the routine of being seen, so the student is familiar with the routine of making an appointment and being seen, before he or she gets sick.

Many kids are unprepared for the increased responsibility they have while in college, along with less accountability to anyone. This book discusses the importance of making good decisions (like going to class regularly, finding and attending a church), and also points out the consequences of making negative decisions.

College 101 takes a realistic look at temptations every student faces while at college, even Christian colleges. The emotional and physical consequences of drugs, alcohol, and sex are outlined, along with techniques to avoid and deal with the temptations (drinking wisely, sipping no more than one drink an hour, or not drinking at all but carrying around a glass of soda all evening so as not to get pressured into drinking).

Biblical references are given throughout the book, to help guide students through their days at college. Readers are warned of threats to their faith that they’ll probably face—temptations, non-believing professors, friends who scorn their faith—and again are told of the importance of faith and techniques to deal with these threats.

I’m impressed with the amount of valuable, useful, easy-to-read information contained in just over 200 pages. It’s written in a style teens will appreciate, and at $9.95 is a bargain. I’ll be buying more copies as gifts for any graduate heading for college.

(The Abbey gift and bookstore in Norfolk carries College 101: Campus Life for Christians)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Editor's Letter June 2010

CONGRATULATIONS to all graduates, especially our son Cody, who graduated from Lakeview High School on May 16th. It was a wonderful day filled with family, fun, and pride in Cody’s accomplishments. He will be attending Kansas State University in the fall. What a milestone!

When I belonged to a MOPS (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers) group years ago, one of our mentors said, “The days with your children may seem long…but the years will seem short.” Those were very wise words, and I pass them on to every mother of young children.

Most of May was filled with preparing for Cody’s graduation party and the graduation itself. We were blessed with good weather and the presence of many friends and family members to celebrate with us.

School is out now and Cody and Morgan are getting ready for summer cattle shows. I’m sure the summer will go fast! It’s my favorite season of the year—I even like the heat.

Happy Father’s Day to all fathers! I am blessed to have a father who always encourages and supports me in whatever I want to do, and he’s always quick to encourage my family in their endeavors, as well. And he always, always can make me laugh, no matter what kind of mood I’m in. THANKS, dad!

I’m also blessed to have a husband who is a wonderful father. He never hesitates to spend time with and help Cody and Morgan, no matter how tired he is or how long his to-do list is. Tim is a huge factor in the happy, productive children Cody and Morgan are. THANKS, Tim!

In the paper you’ll find an article about parable of The Prodigal Son, but with the focus on the father, rather than the son. You’ll see how the father’s actions are like our heavenly Father’s actions as well.

As I was shopping for graduation gifts, I found a book called College 101; Campus Life for Christians. I highly recommend it as a gift; you’ll find a review of the book in the Playroom pages of this issue of the Nebraska Family Times.

I’ve also included a reader survey in the paper. Please fill it out to let me know how I’m doing as editor, and what you’d like to continue to see, see more of, or maybe see less of, in the paper. My prayer is to produce a paper that will encourage, inspire, and motivate you in your Christian walk, and I need your help and suggestions to do that.

I hope you enjoy this issue of the Nebraska Family Times! May God bless you this summer!


Saturday, May 1, 2010

Editor's Letter May 2010

Another month has flown by!

It’s good to see the trees and pastures getting green again! It seems like they were white or brown for a very long time. The ducks are back on our pond, the wild turkeys are wandering around, and I’ve even seen a few deer. I am so thankful for the blessings and beauty of nature.

We have another new baby donkey! That brings our “donkey herd” size to nine. I’ve been asked where we got all the donkeys, and what we do with them. Some of them we own, and some belong to other people and are just visiting for now. We used the donkeys last year to protect the sheep, and this year to protect the baby calves; donkeys keep away coyotes that will kill sheep and calves. The donkeys will actually kill coyotes if they come too close. We also use the donkeys to train calves to show, if they’re too difficult for Tim and Cody and Morgan to train. A difficult-to-train calf is tied to a donkey (it does not hurt either animal) and the donkey will not let the calf buck, run, etc. After a few hours or days, the calf is tame enough for kids to lead.

We are busy getting ready for Cody’s graduation! He will graduate from Lakeview High School on May 16th. We approach this milestone with bittersweet feelings; we are so happy that he is excited about this next stage in his life (he will be attending Kansas State University in Manhattan, KS next year) but in a way sad that he will not be around our home as much come next fall. We know that kids growing up and leaving home is part of God’s plan, and we trust that He will continue to keep watch over Cody.

Morgan is excited to serve as Secretary for the Lakeview FBLA next year; she is also applying for Secretary of the FFA chapter. She’s looking forward to going to several national and regional cattle shows this summer.

Happy Mother’s Day! I am so thankful for my own mother, Mary Geil, who has taught me so much and has shown me love, encouragement, and support in everything I do. I love you mom! I’m also thankful for my mother-in-law Anne; I’m so glad you live so close and are always supportive and willing to help me and my family.

I pray for God’s comfort for mothers who face Mother’s Day without a child this year (due to death) and children of any age who face Mother’s Day without their mothers.

We also celebrate Memorial Day at the end of May. Please remember our servicemen and servicewomen and their families in your prayers, and thank them when you see them. Our country is so blessed to have men and women willing to protect our country.

I hope you enjoy this issue of the Nebraska Family Times! As always, my prayer is that you will find inspiration, encouragement, and motivation in the articles. I appreciate your comments and suggestions, so if there’s something you’d like to see in the paper, please let me know. You can reach me by email at or by phone at (402) 993-2467.

May God bless your May!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Chocolate Covered Bacon

I've seen numerous recipes for and raves of chocolate-covered bacon. I like to try unusual recipes, so thought I'd finally try it.

Guess what chocolate covered bacon tastes like?

Bacon dipped in chocolate!

It's not as repulsive as some of the members of the family feared it might be...but it's nothing special either. Good thing I only made a few pieces to try! Obvioulsy, others love it...but I'll continue searching for a fun, unusual recipe to make for Cody's graduation party.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Sponsor Spotlight

I appreciate the businesses that sponsor the Nebraska Family Times! When a person or business is a “sponsor,” they receive 10 (or more) copies of the paper every month to share with customers, patients (in a dentist, chiropractor, or doctor office), members of the church congregation, co-workers, or friends. (A sponsorship of 10 papers/month is $10/month; sponsors are recognized on paper racks or holders, and in the paper.) A sponsorship is a way for the sponsor to assure distribution of the Nebraska Family Times to people, and meet the mission of the paper, “To Inspire, Encourage, and Motivate You on Your Christian Walk.”

To thank businesses for being sponsors, about a year ago I started the Sponsor Spotlight. An article about the featured sponsor appears on the Play Room pages in the Nebraska Family Times. It’s been interesting to hear “the story” behind how a business was started, and what the owners enjoy about their business.

The May Sponsor Spotlight will feature Main Street Apothecary of Laurel, NE.

Would you like your business featured in the Sponsor Spotlight? Contact me at or by phone at (402) 993-2467 or (402) 750-3496 and we’ll set up a time for an interview (or I’ll e-mail you interview questions.)

I appreciate Nebraska Family Times sponsors and hope to hear from you!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Graduation is Coming!

Cody graduates from high school on May 16, 2010. In some ways it seems like just yesterday that I walked him to his first day of school…

I have mixed feelings about him graduating and leaving home (he’s planning to attend Kansas State University in Manhattan, KS, next year). I’m so happy he has plans and goals, but also sad that he won’t be a part of our everyday life anymore.

I know it’s God’s plan that our children leave us and start their own lives, and I pray that Tim and I have helped him to develop a good foundation of faith and that he will continue to grow in faith, wherever he is.

We’re busy making plans for Cody’s graduation party. It’s fun to plan, and he’s not picky about exactly what we do—he’s most concerned with seeing friends who have been a part of his life. I made basic plans a few months ago, but now it’s time to get down to the details—exactly what we’ll have for food (lots of cheesecakes for dessert!), how the room will set up, what the decorations will be.

It will be a busy few weeks until the party—I have another issue of the paper to put out as well! J Don’t worry—It’s all coming together nicely.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Editor's Letter April 2010

Spring is springing!
I was so happy to get in the vehicle this morning and have to look for my sunglasses; it seems the sun hasn’t been out for a long time. Although things are brown right now, soon we’ll be seeing green (and I have a friendly bet with my mother-in-law that we will see one more snow before winter is completely gone…but snow in April will not last long). What a joy to see God’s hand in the re-birth of the earth every spring and be reminded on Easter of our ultimate re-birth in Heaven.

Speaking of birth…one of our donkeys had a baby! His name is Stormy, and he was the first donkey ever born on the ranch. He’s doing well and we think another of the donkeys might be pregnant, so another donkey baby may be arriving soon.

Another sign of spring is the arrival of cows and their calves in “my” pasture—the pasture right outside of our house. It’s so fun to look out the window and see the cows and their babies running around. About 100 calves have been born, and there are about 100 left to be born.

On a sad note, my Grandpa, Edward Geil, died in this world and was born into heaven on March 11th. Our sadness for our loss is mixed with joy for his gain; he believed in Christ and had been looking forward to joining Grandma, who died in 2002, in heaven. We know he is in heaven, out of pain, with her and with Jesus…and we know that we will see both Grandma and Grandpa again. All who knew Grandpa were blessed to know him. His faith showed in all he said and did and I will never forget his encouragement and love.

Two hours after we got home from the funeral, Morgan was doing chores and got hit in the head with a gate, so we visited the Emergency Room for stitches. We are so thankful her injury wasn’t worse! The stitches are already out and she’s rather proud of her “battle scar.” Cody has been counting the days until graduation…the spring is just flying by with cattle shows, calving, and enjoying being outside.

I hope you enjoy this issue of the paper! Since I’m working on “spring cleaning” (in preparation for Cody’s upcoming graduation party), I’ve included hints and tips for organizing and cleaning, along with a review of my favorite housekeeping/organization book.

I’ve also printed an article about giving to charity when you’re on a tight budget (“Charity on a Shoestring”) and “Talking About Healthy Relationships” (with your kids). I hope that “Celebrating Mother’s Day Without Mother” will be comforting and encouraging to readers who are doing just that. If you find an article that would be perfect for a friend, please consider cutting it out and sharing it. If you don’t want to cut up your issue of the paper, contact me and I’ll send them a complimentary copy with a note that indicates the article that may be of interest.

Please let me know what articles and features you enjoy, and what topics you’d like to see more of. You can reach me at (402) 750-3496 or (402) 993-2467, or by e-mail at I enjoy hearing from readers!

God bless you and your families as you celebrate Easter and enjoy spring!


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Pawnee Senior Center, Genoa, Celebrates 25th Birthday!

By Shelly Burke, Editor

On March 6, 2010, the Pawnee Senior Center in Genoa celebrated its 25th anniversary with an open house.

Teresa Drozd provided the welcome and introduction of the guests at the program.

Congressman Adrian Smith was a featured guest and spoke of his appreciation for small towns. “As I spend time in Nebraska before I head back to Washington DC,” he remarked, “I am reminded how nice Nebraska is. Rural Nebraska is the real deal.”

Senator Annette Dubas was another featured speaker. She is from Fullerton, and familiar with the area and small towns. She congratulated the Senior Center on its accomplishements and remarked, “This celebration is an example of what makes Nebraska’s communities a great place to live.”

Both Smith and Dubas spent time talking with others who attended the event.

Tim Mohrman, Senior Center Manager, reminded me that people don’t have to be over the age of 60 to enjoy meals at the Senior Center or receive Meals on Wheels. He wants people to know that guests of any age are welcome. Tim said, “The goal of the Senior Center is to help seniors to stay in their own home longer by providing meals here or in their home, foot care, and other services.”

A highlight of the afternoon was a performance by the Golden Oldies Band, formed by Jean Strand shortly after the Center opened. In 2009 the band played at more than 45 events in central Nebraska. Pearl Christensen, the only remaining original member of the band, is 96 years old. Her first instrument was a macarena that she made from a can filled with pebbles; the can had Chinese writing on it and was a souvenir from one of her many international trips.

The Senior Center was incorporated in 1983, and served its first meals in March of 1985. Last year, 8,781 meals were provided to participants 60 years of age and older.

The Pawnee Senior Center provides many services to the citizens of the Genoa area. Noon meals are served Monday through Friday, with an evening meal on Tuesday. The Meals-on-Wheels program delivers to participants who are unable to leave their home.

The Senior Center provides many services to area seniors; health education and clinics, volunteer opportunities, entertainment, senior care options, caregiver support, and socialization with new and long-time friends.

We wish the Senior Center a very happy anniversary and many more years serving Genoa and the surrounding area.

For more information about the Pawnee Senior Center and upcoming activities, call (402) 993-6002.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Looking for Suggestions!

I need your help, readers!

I’ve been including articles about local events, activities, and individuals, in the paper. In the April paper you’ll read about the Pawnee Senior Center in Genoa, celebrating their 25th birthday! In the May issue you’ll read about a planned mission trip by a group from Norfolk. In June you’ll read about a Columbus group also planning a mission trip. In past issues I’ve featured musicians, singers, a medical mission team, and so one.

If you know of an event, person, or group that you’d like to see featured, please contact me! You can reach me at, or by phone at (402) 993-2467 or (402) 750-3496.

Thanks for your help!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Visit to the Emergency Room

About two hours after we returned home from Grandpa’s funeral in Missouri, Tim called me from the ranch, where he and the kids were doing chores. “Morgan got hit in the head by a gate and needs stitches. I’m bringing her home right now; get ready to go with us to the hospital.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE: many days, before Tim and the kids go to the ranch, I tell them, “Be careful—no trips to the Emergency Room today!” Today, however, I forgot to say that!)
On the way to the hospital I got the whole story; Morgan was letting the show cattle out for the night, and a cow kicked a gate that Morgan was standing by. Unfortunately the gate bounced into her head, knocking her down and making a big gash in her forehead.

The Emergency Room wasn’t busy, so she was seen immediately by a great nurse, and then stitched up by a very compassionate doctor. Morgan was brave throughout the ordeal.

We are so thankful that her injury wasn’t worse, and that Tim was close by and we could get her to the hospital immediately! Morgan is kind of proud of her injury and not at all worried about a scar (the doctor said it shouldn’t scar much at all, especially if she doesn’t allow sun on it this summer).

I think from now on I'll remember to remind everyone, "NO TRIPS TO THE EMERGENCY ROOM TODAY!"

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Grandpa's Funeral Readings

(These were the readings at my grandpa’s funeral, and I share them with you in remembrance of him. My dad gave the meditations on these verses. Grandpa liked the traditional wording, which is used here.)

To man belong the plans of the heart, but from the Lord comes the reply of the tongue…
Commit to the Lord whatever you do and your plans will succeed. The Lord works out everything for His own end—even the wicked for a day of disaster…In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps. Proverbs 16:1, 3-4, 9

Grandpa made many plans during his life. Some things went as he’d planned, and some did not. But whether they did or did not go as he’s planned, Grandpa had put his life in God’s hands. He knew that the Lord was determining his steps, and accepted whatever happened.

Jesus said, “Let not your heart be troubled; ye believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.” Thomas saith unto Him, “Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the say?” Jesus saith unto him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me.” John 14:1-6
What an amazing thought—Jesus Himself is preparing our eternal home for us…and loved ones who are already in Heaven are enjoying their mansions. We can all find comfort and joy in these words!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Grandpa Geil

We were saddened last night to receive the news from my mom and dad that my Grandpa Geil (my dad’s father) had died.

Grandpa had had some health problems recently but maintained a cheerful attitude every time I talked with him. He had a deep faith and our comfort is in the fact that he is in heaven with our Savior and his wife, who died in 1992. Mom and dad were with him when he died. He knew he was dying, and they said he was at peace and so excited to see Grandma in heaven.

We were all blessed to know Grandpa as long as we did, although of course we wish we would have had more years with him. I will always remember his sense of his humor and his words of wisdom about anything we talked about. He encouraged me in everything I did, and was always interested in our family and our activities. He loved to hear about all of our animals (especially the donkeys) and their antics.

“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on You! Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord God is the Eternal Rock.” Isaiah 26:34

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A Retired Preacher's View from the Pew

(Editor's Note: This column was written by my dad. His column will appear in the Nebraska Family Times every month. Dad is a great teacher and I learn something from every article I read and sermon of his that I hear. I hope you enjoy this article and the ones that will follow!)

A Retired Preacher's View from the Pew

As a retired pastor I get a different view of things from the pew than the view I had from the pulpit. Christmas and Easter are two good examples.

Christmas and Easter are the two most important celebrations of the church year for most of those who practice the Christian faith. It could be debated, but they are probably two of the most important celebrations for those who don’t consider the church and worship a very important part of their lives. The secularization of those two holidays (the word “holiday” comes from the Old English "halig" holy + "daeg" day) has a lot to do with that. You don’t see many Transfiguration or Maundy Thursday cards on the shelves, but almost everybody knows they have to buy Christmas presents for their kids and take them to the town Easter egg hunt even if they don’t make the connection to the Savior.

And for some reason, many people who don’t think it’s important to be in church the rest of the year seem to think they should be there on Christmas and Easter. When you’re a preacher looking from the pulpit it’s a bittersweet feeling on Christmas and Easter to see the church packed with “members,” knowing that many of them won’t see the inside of the church again until the next year. Those are the days for the preacher to “speak the truth in love” and remind those they are to shepherd about the importance of corporate worship.

When you’re a retired preacher and member in the pew there are some unique problems you’ll have to deal with. Here are a few guidelines for Christmas and Easter:
1. Make sure you get to church early if you want to sit in your favorite pew or if your family wants to sit together.
2. Sit near the front to avoid the distraction of kids (and adults, too) who don’t know how to behave in church because they haven’t been there enough to learn how to behave in church.
3. Be careful in being nice to “guests“. Never ask them where they‘re from-they might be a member who only comes at Christmas and Easter. Instead, say, ”It was nice to see you today! We hope to see you here again soon.”
4. Try to have an answer ready for the people who complain , “I come to church twice a year and hear the same two stories year after year.” Reply, ”Come every week and you’ll hear a lot of different stories.”

Easter and Christmas give opportunities to witness to those who are less than faithful in their worship. The Scriptures remind us all: Hebrews 10:25 “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

Allen Geil is a retired pastor/teacher/hog farmer who lived in Nebraska for 18 years and now lives in Missouri.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Another Sign of Spring--A Donkey Baby!

We've acquired 6 adult donkeys over the last few years. When Morgan had sheep, the donkeys lived near them to protect the sheep from the coyotes. Several months ago the guys noticed that several of the donkeys were pregnant. The gestation period of a donkey is about a year, so we've been waiting for a baby or babies for the last few weeks.

Cody and Morgan have been feeding their cattle early in the morning and also checking for baby calves--and this morning Cody came home excitedly announcing the birth of the first baby donkey! I think it's the first donkey that's ever been born on the ranch...and the ranch has been in the Burke family for more than 100 years.

I love living in the country and seeing sights like this, and experiencing the wonder of new life.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Spring is Coming...

I'm so thankful for encouraging, if small, signs of spring! I was able to walk OUTSIDE today! It's been too cold, snowy, windy, and muddy for several weeks. Jenny (the beagle) and I really enjoyed being out. We even saw a few robins, and heard them singing!

The snow is slowly disappearing. We're supposed to get rain next week and I'm sure that will help also.

I enjoy watching the seasons change; I think it was so nice of God to make our world so interesting. He could have created the earth so that the weather was constant...but it's continually changing from day to day, month to month, and year to year...and sometimes in Nebraska, hour to hour!

As my mom says at this time of year, "Every day of winter still brings us one day closer to spring."

Thursday, February 25, 2010

March Issue Completed!

I just emailed Jennifer my Editor’s Letter for March. That’s usually the last thing I write for each issue of the paper. I’m really excited about the March issue of the paper. We have two new columnists; my dad, retired Pastor Allen Geil, and Dr. Randy Hinze. My dad has always been a great teacher, and has a fun sense of humor, and I think readers will enjoy his article. Dr. Hinze will be writing about the effect of stress on the body, and how we can combat those effects. I was skeptical about chiropractors until I met Dr. Hinze. He’s helped our family with several health and pain issues. I’ve suffered from migraine headaches for many years, and with Dr. Hinze’s advice and treatment, have had few headaches the last few months.

I’ve already started on the April issue of the paper! I get several emails every day from organizations and websites of interest, and today I found an article that will be perfect for next month’s issue.

If there is a topic you’d like to see covered in the paper, please let me know! If you have a specific article suggestion, send me a link to that article, and I will check if it is copyrighted or if we need permission before it can be used in the paper.

Next on my list…cleaning off my desk! It’s covered with article clippings, sticky notes reminding me of things to include in the paper, my dictionary, calendar, pens, papers…

Monday, February 22, 2010

79 Days in a Row

Today the weather man said that it's the 79th day in a row we've had more than an inch of snow on the ground. From the looks of things, and the near forecast, we'll have quite a few more days to add to that already record-setting number of days.

I'm looking ahead to July or August...I'm certainly not going to complain about the heat, no matter how hot it gets! :-)

This is the day that the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it!...Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, and His love endures forever. Psalm 119:24 and 29

The pictures above were taken during one of the Jan. storms; one shows how our road is blocked by a drift. That has become a common sight this winter, with all the wind! The other picture shows the sun dogs that were around the sun all day one day in Jan. It was neat to watch them change throughout the day. They appear as a reflection of the snow/moisture high in the atmosphere. It was a very windy day! I think it's neat that God made nature so interesting.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Starting on the March Issue

It’s always fun to get a start on the next issue of the Nebraska Family Times. I usually start about 4 or 5 days before I want to have everything submitted to Jennifer, the lady who lays out the articles, advertisements, and so on, before the paper is printed. I want the articles and information in the paper to be current, yet want to have time to study resources, follow links, and pick out what I feel are the best articles. I ask God to lead me to those articles and help me know when I’ve found them—articles to inspire, encourage, and motivate readers.

As I do research and read articles, I’m very picky. J I don’t want the articles to be too long, and they must contain information that readers can put to use easily. I especially like articles that encourage readers to take action—action to help others, improve their own lives (in areas of parenting, marriage, finances, and/or spiritually), or just add some fun to their lives.

Sometimes it seems I read many articles before I find a “keeper”—one that’s good enough for the paper. When I do find an article that’s “right,” I have a feeling of excitement—I know that the article will resonate with the needs of readers. It’s a great feeling!

Some months, the articles that are the biggest challenge are those to put on the front page. The paper is in many waiting rooms, business and bank lobbies, and restaurants around the state—locations where people who don’t have a relationship with God may see it. Of course I want the headlines to appeal to regular readers, but I also want to catch the eye of those who might not have a relationship with God…but with a catchy title or graphic on the front page, might pick up the paper and learn more about God.

I just started on the paper today; I plan to have all the articles to Jennifer by next Tues. or Wed., Feb. 23 or 24. It was nice to get a start ahead of time. As I was reading through possible articles, I was happy to find several articles that are appropriate front-page material! Some months it takes hours to find good articles for the front page, so it was really nice to find them so quickly. I’ll read them several times over the weekend, and see what other articles I find for inside the paper, before I decide on the front page articles.

I look forward to hearing what YOU think of the front page articles, and any articles that appear in the paper. Please call (402) 993-2467, E-mail, or write Nebraska Family Times, 42887 G. G. Road, Genoa, NE 68640 and let me know what you like, or don’t like about the paper, and any suggestions you have for making it better.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Sponsor Spotlight; Crackers to Caviar

This article appeared in the March, 2009 issue of the Nebraska Family Times. Crackers to Caviar is a Nebraska Family Times sponsor.

Crackers to Caviar
Columbus, NE

Janet Meays took over Crackers to Caviar in May of 2007. She had worked several jobs in retail, and always knew she wanted to have her own business. “It was important to me to sell Christian products of some kind, and this was a great opportunity!”

Crackers to Caviar is a place to come, as they say, “When it’s time for a break from the ordinary.” Crackers to Caviar carries a wide variety of fun, not-so-ordinary products—gourmet coffee, tea, truffles, biscotti, and many Nebraska snacks, from jellies to chocolates to popcorn and soup mixes. You will also find Bibles, the latest Christian books (for all ages), cards for all occasions, and unique gift items for any budget and occasion.

Janet and her very friendly staff members will make gift baskets filled with any items in the store—they have many suggestions and ideas to put together just what you need for any occasion. They also do customized corporate orders.

The staff members enjoy coming up with new drinks, so if you’re craving a smoothie, gourmet coffee drink, chai tea, or cappuccino, they will create something that’s just right for you!

Owning Crackers to Caviar is a family affair; Janet’s son and daughter both work at the shop, and her husband takes care of the accounting.

Janet’s favorite part of her job is talking with people and helping them, whether that means fixing them the perfect cup of coffee, helping them find the right gift for a special someone, or just chatting for a few minutes.

Crackers to Caviar is located at 2710 13th Street, Columbus, NE. It’s open 7 AM – 5:30 PM Monday – Friday (until 8 PM on Thursday), and 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM on Saturday.

For more information check out or call (402) 564-4768.