Friday, December 9, 2011

Give the gift of Christian reading--and be entered to win a Nook or Kindle!



Give the gift of Christian reading! For just $20 a loved one will receive 12 issues of the "Nebraska Family Times" newspaper, full of great information and local, state, and national news from a Christian point of view. The "Nebraska Family Times" will "inspire, encourage, and motivate readers in their Christian walk."


Give a gift subscription and be entered to win Christian books and CD's and the grand prize of a Nook or Kindle--final drawing December 16th! To order, e-mail shelly@shellyburke.net with subscription information; you may pay by check (send to Nebraska Family Times, 42887 G. G. Road, Genoa, NE 68640 or PayPal to shelly@shellyburke.net). ORDER TODAY!

Friday, December 2, 2011

WARNING……WARNING: ADVENT VIRUS

Be on the alert for symptoms of inner Hope, Peace, Joy and Love. The hearts of a great many have already been exposed to this virus and it is possible that people everywhere could come down with it in epidemic proportions. This could pose a serious threat to what has, up to now, been a fairly stable condition of conflict in the world.


Some signs and symptoms of The Advent Virus:


• A tendency to think and act spontaneously rather than on fears based on past experiences.
• An unmistakable ability to enjoy each moment.
• A loss of interest in judging other people.
• A loss of interest in interpreting the actions of others.
• A loss of interest in conflict.
• A loss of the ability to worry. (This is a very serious symptom.)
• Frequent, overwhelming episodes of appreciation.
• Contented feelings of connectedness with others and nature.
• Frequent attacks of smiling.
• An increasing tendency to let things happen rather than make them happen.
• An increased susceptibility to the love extended by others as well as the uncontrollable urge to extend it.


Please send this warning out to all your friends. This virus can and has affected many systems. Some systems have been completely cleaned out because of it.

Anonymous via e-mail

(This article appeared in the December issue of the Nebraska Family Times. The mission of the Nebraska Family Times is "to inspire, encourage, and motivate you in your Christian walk. If you'd like a FREE sample copy, e-mail shelly@shellyburke.net or call (402) 993-2467. From now until December 16th, when you subscribe or give a gift subscription, you'll be entered into weekly drawings for Christian books and CD's and the GRAND PRIZE of a Nook or Kindle e-reader! More details at
http://nebraskafamilytimes.blogspot.com/p/give-gift-of-good-news-that-gives-all.html )

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Today may be the most important day of 2012


(Editor’s Note: By the time you receive this it will be after Nov. 15th, but the message of the article is valuable! You can have your goals made by December 1st and still meet the objectives of the article.)

Today is November 15th. I don’t know if that’s significant on your calendar but it is on mine. For many years now I’ve made it my plan to have my goals completed for the upcoming year by November 15th.

Here’s why. Most people wait until January 1st and then think “I need to have some goals.” But then it’s New Years Day – ball games are on, surely I can take the day off. The next day it’s back to work , new things are being talked about at work and the first two weeks fly by. By the time you get some goals laid out it’s nearly February 1st. At that point you think, how can I have the sequential progression over 12 months when one month is already gone. It’s easy to rationalize, I’ll just start next year. And thus weeks turn into months, months turn into years and all of a sudden 20 years have gone by in your own personal version of Ground-Hog Day.

On the other hand, what if you had your goals clearly laid out in 7 areas of your life by November 15th? You know exactly what you want success to look like for you next year – financially, physically, spiritually, socially, in your family, in personal development and in your career. Then you relax and enjoy the holidays, confident that your thinking is already helping you make the choices necessary to see that success come into view.

And here’s what will happen – guaranteed. Because you have clarified what those new levels of success will look like and you’ve written them down – your life will begin to change before January 1st. Even though you are busy with holiday activities you will be amazed at how subtly things start to shift in the direction of your goals. There is something almost magical that happens when you clarify in your thinking and on paper what an ideal life would be.

Give it a try – humor me and be prepared to be astounded at how you can get a jump start on making 2012 the year when you leapfrog forward. And then let me know in about July how things are going.

From www.48days.com

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Give the gift that gives Christian encouragement all year!

The Nebraska Family Times gives readers “inspiration, encouragement, and motivation” in their Christian walk, every month! For only $20 you (or someone you love) will receive 12 issues of the Nebraska Family TimesEvery issue is full of devotions, local features, and state and national news from a non-denominational Christian point of view.

The Nebraska Family Times is the perfect gift for anyone on your gift list—old or young, male or female, with or without Internet access or someone who still enjoys reading a “paper” newspaper.

When you give the Nebraska Family Times as a gift:

          o The gift recipient will receive a gift card indicating your gift
          o YOU will be entered into a drawing to win Christian books or CD’s or the grand prize of a Nook or Kindle e-reader
          o The Nebraska Family Times will donate a food item to the Columbus Rescue Mission/Living Water Rescue Mission for each subscription ordered (our goal is to donate 300 food items!).

          o UPDATE--OFFER EXTENDED! Until Friday, December 16th, at noon, you can also purchase a copy of the book Home is Where the Mom Is; A Christian Mom’s Guide to Caring for Herself, Her Family, and Her Home, for ONLY $5! FREE shipping and handling included. ($5 offer good only with purchase of Nebraska Family Times subscription.) To read an excerpt from Home is Where the Mom Is, go to http://www.shellyburke.net/homemom/excerpts.php.



ORDER TODAY! You’ll be giving a great gift, helping the Rescue Mission—and you’ll have a chance to win something for yourself, or to give as a gift.

To order, go to the right sidebar of this page or e-mail shelly@shellyburke.net.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Bible is the BEST source for learning about God's plan, receiving His guidance, and discerning His plan for your life. But do you wonder how to study the Bible? Follow this link to find "Simple Steps to Solid Scripture Study." I've been following them for several months, reading the Old Testament. In January I plan to start reading the New Testament, following this plan. I've learned so much just following this plan--and I'm excited to read more every day. I hope you enjoy it too!


http://www.crosswalk.com/faith/spiritual-life/simple-steps-to-solid-scripture-study-1295702.html?ps=0
 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

How to have a parenting “do-over”

By Jill Savage

I remember when Mark and I took a parenting class and learned about expecting first time obedience from our kids. Our habit, up to that point, had been to count to three, or to threaten, or to get angry.

Now we had a different vision for our family and for discipline in our home. But how do you change mid-stream? How do you handle a change in expectations, discipline, or how you will handle things?

Mark and I have had to do this over the years when we’ve realized that we’ve either allowed something we shouldn’t, or haven’t parented well or consistently. We call a family meeting and talk to the kids about what we’ve realized or what we’re learning. We apologize for not being consistent or not handling certain situations well. And we set a new standard on how we as a family are going to act, behave, or handle situations in the future. We have found that this is a respectful way to change the direction the family is headed in and our kids have responded relatively well to it.

If you find yourself needing a parenting “do-over,” consider these strategies:

1) Tell your child/children of the upcoming change. One mom had allowed her daughter to sleep in her bed with her. When she realized this wasn’t healthy for her daughter or her marriage, she sat her daughter down and explained that “beginning tomorrow night, you will sleep in your own bed.” This gave her daughter a heads up and a time of adjustment.

2) Apologize to your kids, if needed. An apology isn’t a sign of weakness…in the parenting realm it’s a sign of strength. Your kids will understand that you make mistakes and that you know what to do to clean up your mistakes. When we sat down and explained to our kids about first time obedience, we apologized for not holding them to a higher standard that would serve them well in life (what boss wants to tell his employee to do something three times?)

3) Train to the new expectation. If your kids are old enough, do some role-playing to train them to the new standard. When we were teaching first time obedience, we did some pretending. I told them we were going to practice first time obedience with a happy response. I said, “In a minute, I’m going to ask you to bring me a specific toy. When I ask I want you to say ‘Yes mom!’ and bring it to me.” Then we made it into a game. We played that game for several days.

4) Give a grace period. When we introduced first-time obedience, we trained for several days and then we began our grace period. It was one week of having the new expectation in place, but if they responded inappropriately, they were reminded of the standard and told that after the grace week, they would receive a consequence for that kind of a response.

5) Be willing to be the parent. The standard is set, the training done, and the practice time is over. Now it’s time to stand firm on your new direction. Most parents find if they are consistent with communication, expectations, and accountability, they are able to move in the direction they desire to go.

If you’re dealing with teens, you probably won’t need the training, but the communication, grace period, and consistent accountability will do the trick.
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Reprinted with permission. Jill Savage (www.jillsavage.org) is the founder and Executive Director of Hearts at Home (www.hearts-at-home.org), an organization that encourages, educates, and equips every mom in every season of motherhood. She is the author of seven books including Professionalizing Motherhood, Real Moms…Real Jesus, My Heart’s at Home, and her newest release, Living with Less So Your Family Has More. Jill and her husband, Mark, have five children and make their home in Central Illinois.
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The Nebraska Family Times considers parenting one of God's greatest blessings. Our goal is to include at least one Christian parenting article in every issue of the Nebraska Family Times. When you subscribe to the Nebraska Family Times, you'll receive articles like this in your mailbox every month! And when you subscribe (or give a gift subscription) by December 16th, you'll be entered into a weekly drawing to win Christian books or CD's, and a grand prize drawing for a Nook or Kindle e-reader! Go to http://nebraskafamilytimes.blogspot.com/p/give-gift-of-good-news-that-gives-all.html   for details.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Fail High – and still win

By Dan Miller

“Set your goals ridiculously high and you will fail above everyone else’s success.” - James Cameron, Academy Award-Winning Director

I love the thought here. If you decide you are going to run three marathons this year – and you fail by only running two, you have still accomplished more than 99% of the people in the world.

• What if you had a goal of writing two books this year but only completed one?

• What if you wanted to reduce your cholesterol by 50 points but only cut it down by 40?

• What if you wanted to compose a new song a month but finished the year with only 10 great songs?

• What if you set as a goal to increase your income from $50,000 to $100,000 but only hit $85,000 by December 31st?

• What if you wanted to pay cash for a $15,00 car by November 15th but you accumulated only $14,000 by that date?

• What if you wanted the greatest marriage in the world but you only eliminated 80% of the painful points in the marriage you have now?

Do you have a goal that is so “ridiculously high” that even if you only hit 50% of it you will still bypass everyone else?

Failure comes not in setting a goal and not hitting it – it is in not setting a goal at all and being stuck in sameness.

“A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable but more useful than a life spent in doing nothing .” — George Bernard Shaw

(This article appeared in the October issue of the Nebraska Family Times. Would you like to receive Christian news and information in your mail box every month? I 1-year, 12-issue subscription to the Nebraksa Family Times is just $20! Start a subscription, extend your subscription, or give a gift subscription and you'll be entered to win Christian books or CD's and the grand prize of a Nook or Kindle e-reader! Go to http://nebraskafamilytimes.blogspot.com/p/give-gift-of-good-news-that-gives-all.html for more details!)

Dan Miller is the President of 48 Days LLC. For more go to http://www.48days.com/
Congratulations to Jan VonSeggren, of Columbus, NE, winner of the first weekly drawing for the "Give the Gift of Good News" fall promotion! Jan won an autographed copy of the book "Day-Votions for Grand-Mothers" by Rebecca Barlow Jordan.

Jan was entered into the drawing by extending her subscription to the Nebraska Family Times. YOU can enter to win Christian books or CD's too! Just start a subscription, extend your current subscription, or give a gift subscription to the Nebraska Family Times. Drawings are held weekly, with a grand prize drawing for a Nook or Kindle on December 16th.

For more information go to  http://nebraskafamilytimes.blogspot.com/p/give-gift-of-good-news-that-gives-all.html   or e-mail shelly@shellyburke.net.

Friday, October 7, 2011

40 Days For Life


By Al Riskowski

Over the years it has been my practice to occasionally stand outside the abortion clinic in Lincoln and silently pray for its closing. I have watched cars with license plates from across Nebraska arrive with a young girl prepared to have an abortion. It saddens my heart to know what will take place inside the Planned Parenthood Clinic. The tragedy of abortion prompts us to work for an abortion free Nebraska. This is why Nebraska Family Council supports “40 Days for Life”, taking place September 28th to November 6th. This effort takes a determined and peaceful approach for the end of abortion in America.

The mission of the campaign is to bring together the body of Christ in a spirit of unity during a focused 40 day campaign of prayer and fasting. The purpose of the campaign is to bring about repentance and to seek God’s favor to turn hearts and minds from a culture of death to a culture of life.

There have now been seven coordinated 40 Days for Life campaigns since 2007.

These efforts have mobilized people of faith in cities across all 50 of the states.

• Reports document 4,313 lives that have been spared from abortion — and those are just the ones we know about

• 53 abortion workers have quit their jobs and walked away from the abortion industry

• 14 abortion facilities completely shut down following local 40 Days for Life campaigns

• Hundreds of women and men have been spared from the tragic effects of abortion, including a lifetime of regrets

After so many years of legalized abortion, many people of faith are experiencing a renewed sense of HOPE!

Dr. Sonny Foraker, Founder and Director of Pastors for Life, is a pastor at First Baptist Church, Pearland, TX. He says, "Pastors for Life believes in the spiritual strategy of prayer at the very doors of the abortion centers. Therefore, we wholeheartedly support the national 40 Days for Life! It's the desire of this campaign to seek God's favor with humility and contriteness of heart. Victory will come, not by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit of the Lord. That's why it is important to pray! The success of this campaign is based upon our faithfulness in obedience to God’s command."

To sign up for a time to pray at the Omaha or Lincoln abortion clinics go to the 40 days for life web site (www.40daysforlife.com). For those who are not able to physically go to an abortion clinic, please continue to join us in praying and fasting for an end to abortion, for the conversion of those involved in the abortion industry and for the healing of those hurting after an abortion.

The 40 Days for Life campaign will take place from September 28th to November 6th. To learn more about the campaign you can go to their web site, http://www.40daysforlife.com/ or call toll free at Nebraska Family Council, 1-888-777-5188.

Monday, October 3, 2011

     She Makes it Look Easy
     By Marybeth Whalen

Review by Shelly Burke, Editor and Publisher

She Makes it Look Easy is not a typical “everything-works-out-perfectly-in-the-end” Christian novel. The book delves into the lives of three families and the impacts of the choices husbands and wives make. You might find yourself shocked to find that some of the outwardly “perfect” Christian characters make very bad choices…and you might find yourself closely identifying with several of the characters as well.

I was immediately drawn into the lives of the characters in She Makes it Look Easy. The story is told from the alternating views of the central characters, Justine and Ariel. Justine Miller makes it all look “easy” with her perfectly clean home, perfectly groomed children, and perfectly organized life. Under the “perfect,” however, are dark motives and desires.

Ariel Baxter’s family is “moving on up” when they move into Essex Falls, an upscale neighborhood. Justine quickly introduces herself to her new neighbor Ariel and offers to help Ariel organize her life. Soon, however, Ariel suspects that Justine has motives beyond helping a new friend. When she delves deeper into Justine’s actions she discovers a secret that Justine has been keeping.

Justine and Ariel both face difficult choices, and you’ll be wondering until the final chapter if they’ll do the right thing.

She Makes it Look Easy reminded me of several things; first of all, when I find myself too eager to please someone who makes me feel bad about myself, that person is not a friend. Second, I was reminded not to judge people who seem to “have it all together;” they might be hiding a secret, or they might need a friend. And third, no matter how much I want to be a friend, there are times that doing the right thing is more important than a not-so-true friendship.

Even if you usually don’t enjoy fiction, I encourage you to read She Makes it Look Easy. To order go to Proverbs 31 Ministries. To read more by Marybeth Whalen go to wwwhttp://www.marybethwhalen.com/.marybethwhalen.com.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Start your Christmas shopping today and give the gift of "good news" that gives all year! (And win a prize for YOU!)

Here are the details (also in the ad below):

When you:
  • Start a new subscription ($20 for a 1-year subscription which consists of 12 issues of the Nebraska Family Times)
  • Extend your current subscription
  • Give a gift subscription
between today and Dec. 15th, your name will be entered into a weekly drawing for the gift of a Christian book or CD. All names (including weekly winners) will be entered into a grand prize drawing for a Nook or Kindle E-reader! The grand prize drawing will take place on Dec. 16th. One entry with every new or gift subscription or extended subscription; no limits!

Send address(es) and payment ($20 for each subscription) to Nebraska Family Times, 42887 G. G. Road, Genoa, NE, 68640. Or e-mail address(es) and pay by PayPal to shelly@shellyburke.net. If you have questions e-mail shelly@shellyburke.net or call (402) 993-2467.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Getting it Together

Last week was "putting the paper together" week--finding and writing all of the articles and features for the October issue of the Nebraska Family Times.

I really enjoy finding and writing articles for the paper. I begin every month's search for articles with prayer; a prayer that I will find articles that will touch the hearts of readers and, in some way, bring something positive to their lives and cause them to act, whether that action is life-changing or just thinking more about an issue. The mission of the Nebraska Family Times is "to inspire, encourage, and motivate you on your Christian walk," and I keep that mission in mind as I look for articles.

Although I'm on the lookout for articles all month (through e-mail newsletters, newspapers, various magazines, and suggestions from readers) I don't make any final decisions about articles until the Monday of "paper week," so I can include articles about recent news events.

Every month I try to find articles that cover a wide variety of issues; finances, family, parenting, marriage, health, devotions, Bible study, education, and so on. I always include some fun articles, and I also keep local and national (and sometimes international) events in mind and search for articles that explore these issues from a Christian viewpoint.

I have a list of websites that are my "go to" sources for articles, and many times articles on these websites lead me to other sources. Some websites have granted me permission to reprint any of their articles, but for many articles I e-mail the author directly to see if she or he will allow me to reprint their articles. I have been very blessed that in almost every case, the author generously grants me permission to do so. It's fun to get to know other Christian authors as we communicate about articles. I'm always happy to send authors the issue of the paper in which their article appears, and  I hope they enjoy seeing a slice of life in Nebraska (most of the authors don't live in Nebraska).

I'm also fortunate to have several authors who write for the paper every month or almost every month. I eagerly watch for their articles to appear in my in-box. 

I try to find articles of varying lengths, knowing that readers might just have a few minutes to quickly skim an article, or might have the time to read a longer article. I also put together a list of Bible verses and quotes that are used to fill bits of space left after everything else is in the paper. It's like to find thought-provoking quotes for the paper, and the Bible verses I include are those that have meant something to me in the past month. The very last thing I do for the paper every month is write the Editor's Letter.


When I have proofread an article and am satisfied it's ready to print, I send it to an e-mail address that Jennifer Gleason (the lady who does the paper layout; her business is Gleames Creative Design) and I share. Then she takes the article from the e-mail in box, and, using a computer program, fits all of the articles, advertisements, announcements, cartoons, and so on, into the space we have for the paper.

After Jennifer has the layout completed, she e-mails it to me. It's exciting to open that email; I never get tired of seeing the "new" issue of the paper, even if just on my computer screen. Jennifer chooses most of the graphics (pictures) that go with the articles, and I'm amazed that she always seems to finds graphics that perfectly fit the articles. I go through the paper to see how it looks overall, to proofread things one more time, and to make sure articles give credit to the authors as that author requested. I e-mail any changes to Jennifer, who makes them and then sends the e-mail file of the paper to me to check over one more time.

Then, through the miracles of modern technology, Jennifer e-mails the paper to the Wayne Herald, where the paper is printed the next week.

After I have spent several days focused on finding, writing, and editing articles for the paper, and proofreading the paper, I'm ready to be away from the computer for a few days! That's a good thing, as I generally need to do laundry, cook (tasks I ignore while I'm getting the paper together), and clean off my desk, which is always buried under a mound of notes and papers by the time the paper is done!

The October issue of the Nebraska Family Times will be printed, delivered, and mailed next week! And guess what? I already have notes for the November issue.

If you ever read an article you think would fit in the Nebraska Family Times, or have suggestions for issues you'd like to see covered in the paper, please let me know! You can e-mail me at shelly@shellyburke.net or call (402) 993-2467.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Why You Should Hang Up Your Robe
by Glynnis Whitwer

(Editor's Note: This article really hit home with me; I have a bad habit of not quite finishing what I started. Reading this article helped me to realize the importance of finishing what I start, even with such seemingly minor tasks as hanging up my robe. Thanks, Glynnis, for your wise words!)

“However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me…” Acts 20:24 (NIV)

My first instinct was to leave the clean, folded clothes on top of the dresser. Granted, my arms were filled with freshly laundered items, so it would have been difficult to open the drawer while balancing the stack. I had an excuse for leaving them on top. Didn’t I? Instead, I pushed past my instinct, took 30 more seconds, and placed the clothes neatly in the drawer.

This tendency to not complete a task happens with surprising regularity. I toss my bathrobe on the bed, drape jeans on the tub, and set the television remote on the nearest counter top. However, sometimes, when I’m a bit more self-aware, I take the few extra steps needed to actually finish the task.

Years ago, I realized my practice of stopping short of finishing what I started led to a cluttered home and office. Back then, I had a multitude of unfinished tasks that I just lived with. It wasn’t all simple things like putting away clothes, but included larger tasks like leaving a wall half painted.

Starting a project is fun, and usually involves a burst of energy. Then, that energy wanes as I approach the finish line. Instead of pushing to complete the task, assignment or project with excellence, I lean towards settling for good enough. Unfortunately, when I settle for “good enough” consistently, I learn to live with mediocrity. And accepting mediocrity is far from where God wants me to be. You see, finishing what we start is more than a good organizational or home management skill. It’s also a spiritual discipline.

As I identified the tendency to settle, I realized it affected me in a variety of ways throughout my life. In the past I accepted a distant relationship with God rather than one of intimacy. I’ve limited my understanding of Scripture to a surface level. My relationships with others have gone no deeper than, “Hi, how are you doing?” Instead of pushing to explore the fullness of what God offers in all areas, it is easier to stop short. Perhaps it’s safer. Simpler. And with less personal discomfort or inconvenience.

Interestingly, it’s actually been somewhat easy to address this issue. I admit the tendency within myself to settle, and I get firm with myself about it. Now, when I would prefer to leave the dryer full of clothes, or emails half typed, I say to myself, “Finish what you start.” I make a conscientious decision to finish the task at hand before I move on to something new. Obviously, there are some projects that require more effort, but this works on many of my issues.

I’m not sure of all the reasons for stopping short of finishing with excellence, but I do know the results. I end up with unfulfilled commitments, open loops and shallow relationships. That’s a far cry from the life Jesus came to bring, which is full and abundant. Not a partial life, but one lived with pushing to the limits and exploring the outer reaches.

Maybe that seems a deep principle to pull from putting clothes in a drawer or a dirty bowl in the dishwasher. However, the discipline of finishing well is one that is woven through my life…or it’s not.

So I guess I’ll take the extra step and actually hang up my robe. It’s one more stitch in this tapestry of finishing well that God is trying to create in my life.

Dear Lord, thank You for demonstrating finishing well through the life of Jesus. I know Jesus could have stopped short of paying the price for my salvation. But He didn’t. For that I will be eternally grateful. Please help me push through mediocrity in my life and explore the fullness You long to bring. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Application Steps:

Identify one home or office task that would take you less than 30 minutes to finish. Commit to finishing this in the next five days.

Reflections:

What are some reasons I avoid finishing certain tasks?

Could procrastination reflect a deeper spiritual issue for me?

Power Verses:

John 19:30, “When he had received the drink, Jesus said, ‘It is finished.’ With that he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” (NIV)

Genesis 2:2, “By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day He rested from all His work.” (NIV)
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Glynnis Whitwer is on staff with Proverbs 31 Ministries as the Senior Editor of the P31 Woman magazine. She is one of the writers of Encouragement for Today, the Proverbs 31 e-mail devotions, with over 500,000 daily readers. Her newest book, I Used to be So Organized, has just been released. Glynnis, her husband Tod, and their five children live in Glendale, Arizona. Visit http://www.glynniswhitwer.com/ or http://www.herorganizedlife./com to learn more.

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© 2011 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.
September Editor's Letter

Getting Back into a Routine


Since Cody and Morgan are both back to school, I guess that means summer is over! While I love the more un-scheduled days of summer, it is nice to get back into a routine. Cody started his sophomore year at Kansas State this week and seems to be enjoying his classes. Morgan started her college class (Spanish) on Monday, and her high-school senior year on Tuesday. It was bittersweet to take the last “first-day-of-school” picture, but she’s excited about her senior year and college next year, and we are glad about that (see Morgan's first, first-day-of-school and last, first-day-of-school photos, below).

We are also looking forward to the State Fair and AKSARBEN in September, and Tim is also holding a pasture sale mid-September. The month will fly by!

I accomplished a business goal this summer in creating a blog and Face Book page for my book Home is Where the Mom Is; A Christian Mom’s Guide to Caring for Herself, Her Family, and Her Home. You’ll find excerpts from the book and posts by moms of kids of all ages on the blog at http://www.achristianmomsguide.blogspot.com/. You can also “like” the Nebraska Family Times Face Book page and, between regular issues of the paper, receive links to articles that will “inspire, encourage, and motivate you in your Christian walk.”

September brings the 10th anniversary of September 11th, 2001. Like everyone, I clearly remember what I was doing that day. I had walked Cody and Morgan to school and came home to the news that the planes had crashed into the Twin Towers. I had been busy raising Cody and Morgan so hadn’t paid much attention to international news, and the concept of “terrorism” was pretty new to me. I remember thinking that I was glad we lived in the middle of the United States, where nothing was likely to happen…and then I heard on the radio that a “large distinctive airplane” (which of course turned out to be Air Force One, carrying President Bush) had just landed at Sac Air Force Base.

As I watched the events of the day unfold, I was sad to think that Cody and Morgan (who .were in 4th and 2nd grade) and their classmates would not remember a world in which “terrorism” was not an everyday term. The world changes were very evident in November of 2001 when our family flew to northern Wisconsin to celebrate Thanksgiving. We were greeted at the airport by BIG dogs, men with guns…and several security guards converging on us when the x-ray of Morgan’s backpack revealed a fork that I’d forgotten to remove with the rest of her lunch items.

In the days and weeks after 9/11 Tim and I had the task of explaining what had happened, and what could happen, to Cody and Morgan. Although it was very unlikely that any of us would ever be affected directly by terrorism, we have no guarantees on the number of our days. We were thankful that we could reassure our kids (and ourselves!) that if the worst happened—from terrorism, an accident, an illness, or any other cause—we could be absolutely certain that we would go to heaven and see each other again someday.

Our country is blessed to have men and women willing to serve in the military. Please remember them and their families in your prayers. And also remember those who lost loved ones and were directly involved in and impacted by September 11th, 2001.

Although there are wars and rumors of war and strife both within our country and throughout the world, we can be assured that God will not change. He is in charge, He knows what is happening, and He has promised us eternal life. And although I don’t think we’ll ever see world peace, we can have the peace that passeth all understanding (Phil. 4:7).

Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not be afraid.” John 14:27

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

God’s blessings and peace to you!
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Morgan's first, first-day-of-school. She's pictured with her first dog, Hershey.

Morgan's last, first-dayof-school. Morgan is pictured with her dog, Jenny.
She's also sitting on the SAME swing that's in the first picture!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Bacon goes with...Chocolate Chip Cookies?

I enjoy trying new, unusual recipes, and last week my sister sent me a link to a recipe I just couldn't resist trying--Brown Butter, Bacon, and Chocolate Chip Cookies. ( http://mouthfromthesouth.com/brown-butter-bacon-chocolate-chip-cookies/ ). The recipe called for three kinds of chocolate, giving me an excuse to buy three bags of chocolate chips, and I'd never made brown butter before, either, so I was really looking forward to trying it.

Making the brown butter wasn't hard, just a little time-consuming since I was worried about burning the butter (the recipe and my sister both warned that the butter could go from "a little brown" to "burned beyond being able to use" in just a few seconds). The instant it started to turn brown and smell nutty, I took it off the heat.

The batter tasted just like batter for chocolate chip cookies...with bacon. (I felt an obligation to try the batter, just to make sure it tasted ok to bake. I wouldn't want to serve my family an inferior product, after all!). As I spooned out the batter on the cookie sheets, it was a little strange to see bacon pieces among the chocolate chips...but they came out of the oven smelling wonderful!

Morgan wouldn't taste a cookie until I did...I bravely bit in...waited for the taste to hit me...and the cookie tasted like...a chocolate chip cookie with bits of bacon in it. It wasn't horrible or disgusting, but wasn't anything fantastic either. I tried another cookie this morning (OK, two of them) just to see if "aging" overnight made a difference...nope. I'm going to send some of the cookies to my niece; maybe she'll take them to school on Monday. I don't know if they'll make her "the-most-popular-girl-to-trade-lunches-with," or "the- girl-to-avoid-trading-lunches-with"...but I bet she'll try them.

My suggestion? Try the recipe but leave out the bacon. Tim was right--chocolate chips and bacon are both essential food groups...best served separately.

And I will look forward to the next unusual recipe Becky sends me!


There is a whole cup of chopped
up bacon in this bowl!



Wednesday, August 17, 2011

New Blog!

Check out the new blog, featuring my book Home is Where the Mom Is; A Christian Mom's Guide to Caring for Herself, Her Family, and Her Home. I love being a mom, and now that my kids are a little older and more independent, I've felt a real push to encourage moms of younger children. I pray that the new blog does this, and that if they are interested moms will purchase Home is Where the Mom Is to further encourage them in their most important of jobs, being a mom.

I've also set up a FaceBook page, Home is Where the Mom Is; A Christian Mom's Guide. Check it out and if you like it, please "like" it! When I get 30 or so "likes" I have access to more information and can tell what posts get the most traffic, and therefore post topics of interest to more readers.

And as always--please leave me a comment as to what you like or don't like about this blog, and what you'd like to see covered in the Nebraska Family Times newspaper.

THANKS!



Monday, August 15, 2011

He Said, She Said…God Says

By Tracy Buzynski

A friend repeated something that she heard someone say about me. That person told someone else. Soon there was a loop of conversation about an untruth going around the school. Then it came back to me. So the saying “what goes around, comes around” left an awful feeling in the pit of my stomach. How did this even happen and how did I end up in the middle of it?

How many times has this scenario happened to you or some one you know? What is more important; why does someone who you consider a friend, repeat something that ends up hurting you?

Quite simply, sometimes people don’t think before they speak. At the risk of sounding not cool or tongue tied, unkind words slip out. And then suddenly, when more is added to it, the story takes on a life of its own, wounding everyone in its path. Whether it is in person or online words can hurt. One thing that is different today for our kids and almost unavoidable is that our kids have a cyber presence at a much younger age than ever before. As a parent you can avoid it for only so long. It is part of their culture. They learn and use it in school. So instead of hiding your head in the proverbial sand, teach your kids how to handle this situation and know what God’s word says about this.

1 Thessalonians 4:11… “make it YOUR aim to live quietly and to mind YOUR own business.” The scriptures tell us to think before we speak, since our words can be a powerful source of good AND bad. Wow! Mind your own beeswax! God’s word is just full of common-sense advice. So why is it so hard sometimes?

The world is so full of things to occupy our minds. Parents need to make it a priority to teach basic values. When a learning situation comes up, take the time to point out how a positive choice made a situation turn out positive and vice versa.

If you find yourself falling into the gossip chain, make it stop with you. If fuel is not added to the fire the fire will die out. Proverbs 26:20 “Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down.”

Resolve to speak encouragingly about everyone. Try it. Take a day and guard your tongue the whole day. That means do not say disparaging things about yourself either. Ephesians 4:29 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” It is not as hard as you think, especially if you ask for God’s help.

Take this feel-good challenge that you will benefit from as will others in your path.

Teach your kids how to pro-act so that they won’t have to re-act and become victim to idle gossips. Know what GOD SAYS and make a choice to live by what HE SAYS!

Tracy Buzynski is the owner of Encourage Me Kids; Encourage Someone Today, at http://www.encouragemekids.com/

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Columbus Family Hosts Exchange Students

“They become part of our family.”

By Shelly Burke, Editor

The Drozd family made the decision to host an exchange student very quickly. Cheryl Drozd remembers, “We read about exchange students in the church bulletin several years ago. Our daughter Natalie, who has two younger brothers, thought it would be neat to have a sister for a year. Within just a few weeks we had gone from not knowing anything about having an exchange student, to hosting one!”

Natalie Drozd, now 13 years old, had a great time with her “big sister.” Cheryl says, “They had so much fun together! They stayed up late at night, talking and giggling together, just like sisters.”

“Then our son Cameron (now age 10) thought it would be neat to have a big brother to help him improve his soccer game, so for the next two years we hosted boys from Italy.


This year we are hosting a boy from Germany. He’s coming from France to play American football.”

Ben, age 7, also enjoys having host students in the home. They are like part of the family, according to Cheryl. “They help with chores, just like our children do. They also help with projects around the house. It’s neat to look at a room and remember that an exchange student helped us paint it.”

Cheryl says one misconception families have is that they should wait until their own children are in high school before hosting an exchange student. The Drozds have always hosted students who are older than their children. Cheryl explains the student selection process; “Students are chosen to go overseas only after they’ve filled out an application, they and their parents have written letters (about why the student should be considered) and they’ve received recommendations from teachers. They really want to go overseas. They are good examples for our children; they follow all of the ‘family’ rules—helping around the house, going to church, and so on. They know that they will be expected to do this, so it’s not a surprise to them.”

To be an exchange student, the child must be between the ages of 15 and 19 and have good grades in school. Families choose the student they want to host based on that student’s age, interests, etc.

Exchange students are required to have taken at least 5 years of English, so communicating is not a problem. The Drozd family asks their student to teach them one word of their native language every evening at supper, and every evening they review the words they’ve learned.

Cheryl says that students typically find America to be “much more rushed” than their lives at home. “We try to slow down for one night each week, and on that night the student shares his or her culture with us—we eat what they would typically eat (sometimes the student cooks for us) and we talk about their culture.”

Every year Cheryl coordinates 7-10 exchange students and their families in eastern Nebraska, including the Columbus, Fremont, Lincoln and Omaha areas. Families choose the student they wish to host, and Cheryl coordinates the process. She also contacts the student, the host parents, and the school every month to be sure everything is running smoothly and the student is doing well in school. Cheryl acts as a mentor and meets with the family and the student if there are any issues.

The host family is expected to provide the student with a bed, meals in the home, and a ride to school (students are not allowed to drive while they’re in the United States). Students are prepared to pay for any outside activities—tickets to sporting events, meals eaten out of the home and any personal items.

Students usually spend an entire year with the host family, although occasionally they stay for just one semester.

Cheryl would like to place several more students with host families by the end of August. If you are considering hosting an exchange student, call Cheryl at (402) 563-0699 or e-mail her at itsdrozd@frontiernet.net. Cheryl will talk with you on the phone or set up an in-person meeting to answer all of your questions, and put you in touch with other host families. If now is not the right time for you to host a student, but you’re interested in learning more, Cheryl will be happy to answer your questions.

The Drozd family obviously enjoys hosting students from different countries. Cheryl says, “The experience is life changing for our whole family. The host students become another family member, and we’ll think of them that way forever. We remember each others’ birthdays and send cards and letters at holidays. It’s such a neat relationship! We hope, someday, to be invited overseas to their weddings.”

(for more information go to STS Foundation-Students Traveling Schools – stsfoundation.org)

Monday, August 8, 2011

A Little Help from Friends

By Melanie Chitwood

"When Moses' hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up - one on one side, one on the other - so that his hands remained steady till sunset." Exodus 17:12 (NIV)

Devotion:

It had been a challenging year for our family. Opening a new business, extended family issues, a series of health challenges, writing a book, and daily life with newly-turned teenagers were some of the stressors we experienced.

One evening, feeling especially weary and desperate for support, I drove to my friend Holly's house to vent. I plopped on the couch, put my head in my hands, and announced, "I just don't think I can do this." Without missing a beat, her husband Dan said, "That's why you need your friends this year."

How true. We were never meant to deal with stress, discouragement, pain, or just a hard day with the kids on our own. God created us to need encouragement from each other, especially during hard times.

Today's key verse shows how Moses, just like us, needed support. While Joshua and the Israelite soldiers battled the Amalekites, God asked Moses to hold up his staff, representing God's power, throughout the battle. As long as Moses kept the staff raised, the Israelites experienced victory. It was a long battle, however, and Moses dropped his arms in fatigue. Then the Israelites began losing the battle.

That's when Moses needed help and encouragement from his friends. Scripture explains, "When Moses' hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset" (Exodus 17:12, NIV).

The Israelites ultimately were victorious, and a key to their victory was Moses' obedience to God as he held up the staff. But he couldn't have done what God asked him to do without the help of Aaron and Hur.

In the same way over the past couple of years I've needed my friends to hold me up, so I can be the wife, mother and woman God has called me to be. Friends have listened, prayed and helped me with practical matters of everyday life. Their support has given me courage to press on, to remain hopeful, and to find strength in them and the Lord.

Just like Aaron and Hur did for Moses, my friends have held up my hands and lifted my heart so I can be obedient to God's call on my life. We all need the help of faithful friends.

Dear Lord, thank You for the encouragement of friends - and for providing each one at just the right time. Forgive me for the times I've been prideful and independent instead of vulnerable and honest about my needs. Let me be an encourager to others the way they've been to me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Application Steps:

Take time to thank someone who has encouraged you. Write an email, send a text, make a phone call or send a special gift to your encourager. You can forward this devotion to them and tell them "thank you" for holding up your hands!

Maybe as you read this devotion, you realize you don't have a friend to help you during the hard times. Start by praying for God to send someone your way. Then take the first step to initiate a new friendship.

Reflections:

Is it easier for me to help someone or to receive help? If it's hard for me to receive help, I'll ask the Holy Spirit to reveal why.

Am I part of a church community? If not, this week I am going to attend church regularly and to get involved in a service group, small group or Bible study.

Power Verses:

John 15:13, "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." (NASB)

Ecclesiastes 4:9, "Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed." (NLT).

© 2010 by Melanie Chitwood. All rights reserved.

Melanie Chitwood (http://www.melaniechitwood.com/) has been married for 20 years. She and her husband Scott have two sons, Zachary and Tyler. Melanie is the author of two marriage books published by Harvest House, What a Husband Needs from His Wife and What a Wife Needs from her Husband, Melanie takes an honest and biblical look at marriage, uncovering what husbands and wives really need from each other and how they can best meet those needs. These books include many real-life stories from her marriage and other couples of challenges and victory in marriage and is available at the ministry with which she serves, Proverbs 31 Ministries, proverbs31.org.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Before School Starts…

By Shelly Burke, Editor

Whether your child needs crayons or a graphing calculator for the new school year, the following suggestions will make the start of a new year easier.

1. A new routine. After the more relaxed summer routine, it’s time to get back into the school routine. Determine what bedtime and getting-up time should be, and gradually adjust your kids’ schedule to those times. If your kids will walk to and/or home from school (or to a babysitter’s house) practice those routes.

2. Update calendars. Write down early outs, vacation days, sports and activity dates, and when pictures will be taken. This makes it much easier to plan your schedule accordingly. Encourage your kids to write down and tell you of important dates as they are scheduled.

3. Meet the teacher. Much of the anxiety of the first day will be dispelled if your child has met his or her teacher before school starts. This also gives you a chance to meet the teacher and tell her a little bit about your child, especially if he has any medical issues the teacher needs to be aware of. Call ahead to make sure the teacher is in the classroom and not in a meeting. If your child is new to the school, ask for a tour or take a few minutes to walk around and find the restroom and lunchroom.

4. In sickness and in health…If your child will be taking any medications at school, ask for the form you’ll be required to fill out, and do so before school starts. Ask about school policy; can your child keep medications with him or do they need to be kept in the office or nurse’s office? Any medications—non-prescription as well as prescription--will need to be in a labeled bottle. Be sure your child is clear as to when he should take or request the medications. If your child is entering kindergarten or 7th grade, make sure his or her immunizations are up to date.

5. Prayers. Begin praying about school issues before school starts. If your child is anxious about a new teacher, new school, or new classes, pray together for him to feel God’s presence. Recite and write down reassuring verses like Philippians 4:5. Your child can keep the verses in a notebook or his backpack.

As well as praying with your children, pray for your children. Also pray for the teachers, administrators, and other students. If you have a close relationship with your child’s teacher, ask what he or she would like you to pray for. Consider joining, or starting, a prayer group to pray specifically for issues related to the school.
Back to School, or Back to the Poor House?


by Tawra Kellam

Back to school is a time when many moms witness their money sprout wings and take flight, finding their homes at retail stores across America. I know that consumer spending is good for the economy, but I don't take it upon myself to keep the entire US economy propped up, so when my first-grade son announced that he wanted a backpack with rollers, I saw this as a wonderful financial teaching moment. His school is small, and he doesn't walk to or from school. He didn't need rollers.

I told my son that I would give him $8 toward a backpack. I told him that if he wanted a fancier one, he could put up some of his allowance money for the difference. That's the rule at our house. Mom and Dad buy the basics and the kids buy the extras. It was amazing how my son's perception of the need for rollers changed when his allowance was on the line. Yes, he has concluded, a regular backpack will do the trick this year.

Use some of these money-saving tips from www.LivingOnADime.com and you can happily send your kids to school and keep some of the cash for mom's back-to school celebration!

Wait for the list to come out and stick to it. Otherwise, you might buy things you don't need. Remember that the Bank of Mom doesn't pay for frills. Any extras the kids want will have to be funded from their own cash reserves. I do understand that it is nice for kids to have "hip" back-to-school supplies. I look at yard sales and thrift stores for brand name finds. For instance, I recently found a gently-used Barbie backpack and a Barbie lunch box and no one would know that I paid $1 each instead of the $32 that Becky Johnson's mom paid. Who says that stay-at-home moms don't make any money?

Don't buy back-to-school clothes. Children don't need an entirely new wardrobe every fall. If they need something like a new pair of shoes or new jeans then buy what they need, but don't just buy a new wardrobe because it's the thing to do.

• Use back-to-school sales to your advantage. If you know your kids go through a package of socks, underwear or jeans every six months, then stock up while they are on sale. The same is true of crayons, paper, notebooks, backpacks and lunch boxes. My son went through two backpacks and two lunch boxes last year, so this year we will buy two while they are on sale instead of waiting until the middle of the year when they are full price. However, don't be tempted to buy things that you wouldn't normally use just because they're on sale.

• Go through last year's school supplies to see which things are still usable. If my student has a working calculator, the Bank of Mom will not extend credit for a new one.

• Limit activities to one at a time. Activity fees can add up fast. One at a time is the rule at our house. If you can't afford the activity, it doesn't hurt for the kids to use their own money to pay for it. The best way to teach them money management is to let them manage their own money when they have nothing to lose, instead of after they have maxed out the credit cards someone persuaded then to sign up for in college.

For money-saving tips and recipes, visit http://www.livingonadime.com./
School Year Resolutions for You and Your Teenager


Mark Gregston, Heartlight Ministries

Like New Year's resolutions, the start of the school year is a perfect time for parents and teenagers to make resolutions together in regard to goals, responsibilities, and expectations.

Think about what you and your teen hope to accomplish and how you will interact this year. That starts by reviewing your household rules to make sure they are still age-appropriate. And be sure to develop concrete plans to shore up and maintain your relationship with your teen, even as they get busier with school and after-school activities.

Make one of your goals to meet with them regularly, at least once a week. Make it a requirement to get together at a restaurant or coffee shop; or better yet, go have some mutual fun together. You'll find that every time you meet with your teen you'll learn something new about them, and your relationship will blossom.

A number of things happen in the first few weeks of school so I recommend that you double up your one on one meetings during the first month. Listen to what your teen has to say about their new teachers, their schedule and their peers. Perhaps they are already being bullied by someone, so it could be that they need to be quickly moved or the school officials told about the bullying. Getting it right in the first few weeks is critical, since you can still make changes in their schedule or classes before they get too far into the semester, and before they become discouraged.

Communication Means Listening

When you get together, your teen may never have a long discussion with you; it may just be the "instant message" version. But listen carefully, because what is said will probably be short and you'll have to do some reading between the lines. Repeat back what you think they said, or ask a few quick questions to clarify what they meant. This will signify that you are really listening and wanting to understand them.

If your teen is a boy, keep in mind that boys will clam up if a parent expects them to look them in the eye when they talk. My friend Bill Ziegler, a middle school principal and frequent guest on our weekly radio program, says, "Boys communicate better when we're side by side, versus face to face." I find that boys also seem to process life while they are involved in an activity of some sort. You'll be most successful if you can find something fun to do together, all the while interjecting thought-provoking questions to keep the conversation going.

For girls, too, conversation naturally comes out of having fun together. Talking less during these activity times may be difficult for a parent, but when it comes to getting teenagers to open up to you, you can't shut up too much. And be sure to prevent distractions during your time together. Don't bring along friends or siblings. Don't go to their regular hangout, where they'll likely run into their friends. Don't allow iPods or cell phones. And by all means, don't announce the activity is for the purpose of having a talk. Just leave the space open and available while you are with them, to see what happens next. Then zip your lip, be quiet, and practice listening.

School Is More Stressful Today

School has become a much more demanding environment for our kids these days. The pressures are significant to perform for others; socially, academically or athletically. So, take care in reviewing your teenager's schedule. Don't allow them to over-commit their time to school or other extra-curricular activities, including those at church. Adults will recruit them to commit to every spare second in their day to sports, clubs, music, or youth group, if you allow them.

It's up to you to help your teen prioritize their schedule, while giving them permission to cut out some things if it appears they are taking on too much. If they are unwilling to confront the people who are pushing them into a state of being over-committed, ask your teen's permission to speak to them yourself.

Other kids will under-commit and avoid involvement in anything but what's required. So you may need to help them by asking them to at least try out for a sport or a club or other activity that will broaden their horizons, give them a new skill, or put them in the company of a positive peer group. Remember, one of the most important things you can do for your teenager is to help them find a positive peer group - so do whatever it takes.

Is Your Home a Place of Rest?

Finally, but no less important, be sure to take a close look at the environment in your home. Is it a place of rest for your teen, or does it just add to their stress? Having reasonable rules and chores won't cause stress; it is when there is poor communication, excessive lecturing, bickering, and fighting. So, pick your battles wisely and major on the majors. Set aside the minor issues, especially during the first few weeks of school. When your teen gets home after school, allow them some time to kick back and find some rest, even if it is just playing a video game or going for a walk. They need to unwind, just like you do when you've had a stressful day.

I hope you use this time near the beginning of a new school year to recharge and regroup. Watch for signs of problems with your teen, especially during these first few weeks. If they get off course, it will likely be now as they are dealing with new teachers, new or suddenly "grown-up" peers, new pressures, and possibly a transition to a new school.

From Parenting Today’s Teens by Mark Gregston. See more at www.parentingtodaysteens.org. Used with permission. © 2011.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Public Schools Need You

By Al Riskowski, Nebraska Family Council

The public school system needs your input. New teacher and principal effectiveness standards are being developed by the Nebraska Department of Education. There are some serious questions that need to be asked about the new standards. Fortunately the State Board has scheduled forums for public comment.

In speaking with Donlynn Rice, Curriculum and Instruction, Administrator, for the Nebraska Department of Education, I was assured the new standards would be general in nature and only guidelines, leaving the detailed implementation to individual school districts. This approach creates a major concern for me because the Omaha Public Schools just purchased 8,000 diversity manuals.

The Omaha Public Schools used more than $130,000 in federal stimulus money to buy each teacher, administrator and staff member a manual on how to be more culturally sensitive.

According to a July 10th Omaha World Herald article, the authors of the book assert that American government and institutions create advantages that “channel wealth and power to white people,” that color-blindness will not end racism and that educators should “take action for social justice.”

The book says that teachers should acknowledge historical systemic oppression in schools, including racism, sexism, homophobia and “ableism,” defined by the authors as discrimination or prejudice against people with disabilities.

The book says teachers must overcome irrational fear of homosexuality and reject the “color-blind” approach to teaching in which teachers treat all children the same. Instead, the group identity of students of color should be recognized and esteemed, the authors say.

The authors, Franklin and Brenda Campbell Jones and Randall B. Lindsey, write that their intent in the book is “to prepare educators to unshackle themselves from tradition and become facilitators for reconciliation of historical injustices.”

Will the State Board of Education and the Omaha Public Schools remember that Christians also deserve respect when it comes to religious liberty and our expression of faith?

As a July 12th World-Herald editorial points out, "in a multicultural society all sides need to demonstrate sincere respect." I definitely agree with the comment that everyone deserves respect. In a multiracial society, all sides need to demonstrate sincere respect, to work together to build a common future. Will the State Board of Education and the Omaha Public Schools remember that Christians also deserve respect when it comes to religious liberty and our expression of faith?

I spoke with Bob Evnen, from the State Board of Education and chair of the subcommittee on diversity and multiculturalism, and asked him how teachers would be deemed ‘culturally competent’ under the new effectiveness standards. Bob assured me that he would not support the term ‘social justice’ to be included in the school standards. He stated that such a term is typically interpreted to mean socialism and the promotion of a radical left agenda.

To see the schedule of public forums on the development of educator effectiveness guidelines or to make comments online you can go to the Nebraska Department of Education website at www.education.ne.gov and click onto teachers/principal standards survey.

At Nebraska Family Council we have available some very helpful pamphlets on parent and student rights and involvement in public schools.

To discuss the educator effectiveness standards in more detail or to request some free copies of the pamphlets contact Nebraska Family Council at http://www.nebfc.org/ or toll free at 1-888-777-5188.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

It's Time for BLT's!

It is my favorite (well, almost favorite) time of year--tomato season! And in our house, that means BLT's become a very frequent meal. The most time-consuming part of making BLT's is the "B"--browning the bacon. My sister gave me a great hint for making this messy, hot, time consuming job a lot easier. She BAKES her bacon!

You'll need a cookie cooling rack, some tin foil, and a rimmed cookie sheet. Line the cookie sheet with tin foil and place the cooling rack on top. Then simply lay the bacon on the cooling rack (make sure all of the bacon is over the cookie pan so grease goes into the pan and doesn't drip on the bottom of the oven). Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until desired crispness.

Be careful when you get the sheet out of the oven as the bacon grease will be in the cookie pan.

Unfortunately this technique doesn't take away the calories from the bacon...but it does take away grease splattered all over your stove top and you don't have to tend to it constantly.

Here's another hint--at the beginning of the summer I baked several packages of bacon, then crumbled them and froze them in small baggies. When I make salads that call for bacon, I simply take it out of the freezer. It's a fantastic time saver!

Cody thought it was really silly of me to to take pictures of bacon but I'm going to post them here anyway. He just rolled his eyes at me. But he'll be happy when he has plenty of bacon for BLT's tonight!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Mean Girls


by Lynn Cowell, Proverbs 31 Ministries (http://www.proverbs31.org/)

“You’re beautiful from head to toe, my dear love, beautiful beyond compare, absolutely flawless.” Song of Solomon 4:7b (MSG)

The words on Facebook glared back at her. “You are so ugly! You are fat, annoying and I hate you!”

Lindsay just sat there, staring at the screen, baffled. “What did I say? What did I do?”


Maybe this has happened to one of your children, or in some way they’ve faced this same type of painful rejection. Maybe you have felt it yourself. I recently spotted a t-shirt at the mall that read “You’re no one until someone talks about you.” What a sad state of affairs.

Growing up in a world where “Mean Girls” and “Gossip Girl” are movie and TV titles, it comes as no surprise that “mean” defines many females today. How can we guard our hearts against this? As a mom, what can we do when our children’s hearts are crushed by meanness?

Feeling unaccepted is nothing new. In Song of Solomon 1:5a, we are introduced to a young girl who felt this way: “Don’t look down on me because I am dark…” (MSG). She felt rejected. Those feelings are so opposite of what we and our children want to feel. We long to be accepted.

Matthew Henry concludes about this passage in Song of Solomon that we, as represented by the young girl, are “often base and contemptible in the esteem of others, but excellent in the sight of God.” [1]

We can counteract the poison of meanness by remembering who we are in God’s eyes. I am excellent in the sight of God and so are you. Song of Solomon 1:5b reveals the tanned girl’s acceptance of this truth; she knows full well that her Lord finds her lovely. When I know that I am accepted by the Lord, it puts me exactly where I need to be to slough off insults and to help my child do the same.

When my daughter was in sixth grade, she was 5’10″. One day as she got off the school bus, I noticed she was holding back a flood of tears. Once again she had been made fun of for her height.

On that day, her youth pastor wasn’t there. Her teacher, counselor and small group leaders weren’t there either. But her mom was. I began telling her how her Father saw her. Sharing truths like these:

“My beloved is mine, and I am His…” (Song of Solomon 2:16a, NKJV).

“You’re beautiful from head to toe, my dear love, beautiful beyond compare, absolutely flawless.” (Song of Solomon 4:7b, MSG).

“The king is enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord.” (Psalm 45:11, NIV).

I poured these truths and others into my daughter that day and continue to remind her of them still. I put them everywhere so that together we can read them over and over again. When we feel rejected, these words remind us that we are, in fact, accepted! I pray they will be a sweet reminder for you, and perhaps your daughter, today.

Dear Lord, help me to be purposeful in putting Your truth about who I am into my heart and mind so that am not swayed by the opinions of others. And when the time is right, I can pour Your truth into the hearts and minds of my children and friends. When my child feels rejected, help me remind them that in You they are accepted. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Application Steps:

Create a list of verses such as the ones above and below to have on hand to review or to share with your child when they are hurting.

Choose one verse per week and memorize it with your child. You can speak it to them as they are eating their breakfast in the morning, when they come home from school, and before they go to bed.

If you have your own set of “mean girl” stories, share them with your children so they can know you understand and have been there too. When we’re vulnerable with our children, we create an atmosphere where they feel comfortable to open up.

Reflections:

Do I have a strong understanding of how Jesus sees me? How can I pursue learning more about His heart toward me?

Are there young girls or young moms in my life who need me to come along beside them and help them see the truth in this devotion?

Power Verses:

Zechariah 2:8, “For this is what the Lord Almighty says, ‘…for whoever touches you touches the apple of his eye…’” (NIV)

Nahum 1:7, “The Lord is good, a strong refuge when trouble comes. He is close to those who trust in him.” (NLT)

[1] http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-complete/

© 2011 by Lynn Cowell. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Summer Cooking--Tips for Cool Meals

Are you tired of cooking in the heat? Here are suggestions from Jill at Living on a Dime (http://www.livingonadime.com/) for quick and easy summer meals.

First, in the morning when it's cooler:

• Clean a large supply of carrot sticks and celery sticks and keep them in water in the refrigerator.

• Boil a dozen or so eggs to store.

• Have some lettuce and grated cheese on hand. (I buy my cheese already grated because the grated cheese costs the same as the block cheese. I believe in doing a lot of things from scratch but I don't believe in killing myself over grating cheese. Besides, no matter how careful I am I almost always grate a knuckle so I have to really psych myself up to grate cheese.)

• Keep lunch meat or sliced meat on hand.

If you keep a few things like this on hand you can make quick and easy meals, even on very hot and tiring days.

Quick and Easy Summer Meals

• Make chef salads. Just chop up some of your cleaned carrot and celery sticks, slice your hard boiled eggs, sliver some of you lunch meat and you have a chef salad. You can add any other vegetables you want, too.

If everything is cleaned in advance it makes cooking in a hot kitchen so much easier and faster. Don't forget the cheese.

• Egg salad, tuna salad or sandwiches. You can use those hard boiled eggs to make egg salad sandwiches or add them to tuna. Serve on lettuce for a tuna salad. You can add the cleaned celery to the tuna salad, too.

• Keep it simple. Some of the best summer meals I ate were when I went to my grandma's in Iowa. She would slice up some tomatoes, put sliced cucumbers in salt and vinegar water and set out some cottage cheese. For an extra hearty meal, she would add some soft bread with butter and apple butter. It was delicious.

Tawra (Jill’s daughter) was born in July and, after many long hard hours of labor, the first meal they brought me was a fruit platter with all kinds of fresh fruit and crackers and cheese. If you were to ask me to name the top five meals of my life, this would be one of them. Try it for your family!

Use these ideas to make summer cooking simple!

For more money-saving ideas go to http://www.livingonadime.com./

Friday, July 8, 2011

Make Ice Cream in a Bag

How to Make Home-Made Ice Cream in a Bag (from eHow.com)
(Editor's Note: I've tried this and it really works--and is fun, too!)


Are the kids getting bored on a hot summer day? Letting the kids make their own home-made ice cream is a great summer treat! It only takes a few minutes and it only sounds messy. (And they will even learn something when you explain to them how the ice cream forms.)

Follow these simple instructions and you and your children will be eating home-made ice cream in just a few minutes!

Things You'll Need

• 1 tablespoon sugar
• ½ cup of milk or half & half (or cream for richer ice cream)
• ¼ teaspoon vanilla
• 6 tablespoons rock salt
• 1 pint-sized re-sealable plastic bag
• 1 gallon-size re-sealable plastic bag
• Ice

1. The ingredients listed here are enough to make one bag of ice cream. Mix the milk or half & half, sugar, and vanilla into the smaller bag and seal it. Half & Half makes richer ice cream, but milk works just fine too. Make sure the bag is sealed tight! (Consider sealing it in another bag to make sure none leaks out!)

2. Put enough ice in the larger bag to fill it about halfway. Add the rock salt and seal the bag. Mix the salt and ice a little by squeezing the bag. Open the bag and insert the smaller bag with the ice cream contents into the larger bag. Seal the larger bag.

3. Shake, squish and move the bag around until the smaller bag's contents changes into ice cream. This only takes a few minutes. The outer bag will condensate water (like a glass of cold water on a hot day), so this is best done outdoors.

4. When the smaller bag contains ice cream, open the larger bag and remove the smaller bag. Wipe the water off of the smaller bag. Open the smaller bag carefully and enjoy your home-made summer treat!

How does it work?

When salt comes into contact with ice, the freezing point of the ice is lowered, meaning that instead of freezing at 32 degrees, it must be at a lower temperature before it freezes (that’s why we use salt on the roads to melt ice in the winter time). When you combine ice and salt in the bag, some of the ice melts because the freezing point of the ice is lowered. The ice must absorb heat to melt, and it takes that heat from the half-and-half mixture in the other bag. When heat is taken from the half-and-half mixture, the temperature goes down and it eventually turns to ice cream.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The July issue of the Nebraska Family Times is available now! Check the blog for selected articles to appear in the next few weeks. If you would like a FREE sample copy of the Nebraska Family Times, e-mail me at shelly@shellyburke.net or call (402) 993-2467.

If you pick up your copy at a sponsor location, please thank that sponsor for making the paper available to patrons!

Tapping Into the Odd and Powerful Force of Momentum


By Matt Bell

I didn’t want to run the other day. I was dead tired. Just couldn’t sleep the night before. But I went anyway.

I didn’t set any speed records; that’s for sure. In fact, I was running so slowly, it wouldn’t have surprised me if a walker passed me by. But I went. And I ran the full four miles I intended to run.

It was as if I had no choice. A mysterious force seemed to carry me out the door, push me down the sidewalk, and keep me going until the run was done.

It was momentum.

The Power of Unbalanced Forces

I love the terminology from Sir Isaac Newton’s Laws of Motion. He said that an object at rest will stay at rest unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.

I didn’t do well enough in science to have any idea what Newton was really talking about. However, “unbalanced” is a great way to describe four forces that help get and keep us moving toward our goals: commitment, accountability, small wins, and deciding to not stop.

What’s normal in our world is to be overweight and in debt. If we’re going to be different, if we’re going to be physically and financially fit, we’re going to need to be a little odd. We’re going to need some unbalanced forces working in our favor.

Commitment

There’s huge power in making a commitment – deciding to go for something in the face of fatigue, the call of the couch, and the dime-a-dozen doubters who nip at our dreams.

Scottish mountain climber W.H. Murray summed it up well:

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. I learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets: ‘Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!’”

Murray climbed some of the world’s tallest mountains and wrote several now-classic books on the subject. He wrote Mountaineering in Scotland on a roll of toilet paper while in prison during World War II. When his captors confiscated it, he wrote the book again.

Clearly, Murray was an oddball. He was committed.

Accountability

Accountability is telling someone else about your commitment.

Last year, Jude and I ran the Chicago Half-Marathon. I had never run that far before – not unless some big guy was chasing me! Because we have young kids, we were only able to run together once during our 13 weeks of training. Still, she pushed me out of bed when I didn’t want to go. I bribed her with breakfast when she didn’t want to go. It made a huge difference.

Pursuing a goal with someone else is the ultimate form of accountability. But just mustering the courage to tell someone about your crazy plans will help a lot.

Who else knows what you’re pursuing? If no one knows, call a trusted friend today and tell him or her. You’ll be amazed at what a difference it makes.

Small Wins

It doesn’t matter whether I’m feeling energized or tired. There always comes a time during a run when I want to quit. The road ahead seems too long; progress seems to come too slow. That’s when the power of small wins is really helpful.

I pick a landmark up ahead – maybe a house or a streetlight. I look at it for a few strides and then I look down for 10 or 20 strides. By the time I look up again, I can see that I actually have moved forward and that’s encouraging.

It’s important to set sub-goals when going for a financial goal as well. Maybe you’ve run the numbers to see how much faster you’ll dump your debts if you throw an extra $50 or $75 at them each month. Every time you hit that sub-goal you’re making tangible progress.

Deciding to Not Stop

Recently, a reporter asked me about the idea of taking an occasional month off from whatever you’re doing to pursue a financial goal in order to celebrate some of the wins along the way. It’s a common idea and, without thinking about it enough, I said I thought it made sense. I wish I hadn’t said that.

I don’t think you should stop. Not until you accomplish the goal you’re pursuing. The feeling of accomplishment from achieving each sub-goal is celebration enough.

When I started running, whenever I’d approach a train track, I’d hope for a train. I thought it would feel good to stop and catch my breath. But what I quickly discovered is that it’s less painful to keep going (assuming there’s no train coming!). Stopping kills momentum. Starting again is tough.

So, hold off on any early momentum-stopping celebrations. Wait for the big win. And then make sure you have another goal in mind for after you complete the first goal.

May The Unbalanced Forces Be With You

What goals are you going for? Have you made a commitment? Do you have an accountability partner? Have you broken the goal down into a series of small wins? Have you decided to not stop?

If you have, rest assured, you’re an oddball. Some might say you’re downright unbalanced. And I’m betting on you to get to where you’re going.

Used by permission of Matt Bell, Personal Finance Writer/Speaker. For more information go to Matt’s blog, http:/www.mattaboutmoney.com.