Friday, April 29, 2011

Heart Hero Capes help Heart Heroes Cope

By Shelly Burke, Editor

Seeing doctors and being hospitalized can be scary for anyone—and children with Congenital Heart Disease (CHD) can become very fearful as they face multiple doctor appointments, frequent tests, and lengthy hospitalizations.

Sondra Dubas (mother of Ashley, now 9 years old), Kitty Burton, (mother of Sam, now 4) and Vanessa Shoemaker (mother of Sofia, also 4) wanted to help their own children and others face the challenges and cope with these stressful events that are a result of being born with CHD. They were inspired to start Heart Hero Capes, an organization that provides capes for kids with CHD to wear to help them face often scary appointments and hospitalizations.

About one baby out of 100 is born with CHD, meaning approximately 250 kids in Nebraska and 40,000 throughout the United States are born with CHD every year. Many of them face open heart surgery to repair the problems (some face multiple surgeries) and all face many hospital and doctor visits throughout at least their childhood. Many times their parents cannot be with them during a test or surgery, and the child feels very alone.

Sondra says, “When kids put on their Heart Hero Capes I can see that they feel extra power and courage. It’s a symbol that helps them cope with all they have to go through. As the kids find courage in their capes, parents find support from others they meet at the hospital and through Heart Hero Capes.”

The co-founders of Heart Hero Capes knew they would not be able to manufacture the capes, so partnered with a company in Michigan. Sondra says that God’s hand was in the decision to have another company make the capes; when they called Power Capes to discuss a possible partnership the company had just made the decision to align with a cause like Heart Hero Capes. The affiliation has been very successful; in the year or so since they started, about 400 capes have been distributed throughout the United States and as far away as Australia.

Kids design their own heart Hero Cape at the Power Capes website, choosing the color of the cape as well as an initial, character or symbol that will adorn their cape. A heart hero patch is also sewn on each cape.

All donations to Heart Hero Capes go toward providing capes for kids whose families are unable to pay for them (a donation of only $25 will allow a needy child to receive a gift card good for a cape he or she designs). Kids who want a cape can pay for them or apply for a free one.

Future Heart Hero Capes goals include “getting capes to as many kids as possible,” spreading awareness of CHD, and fundraising. Sondra says that with enough funds, Heart Hero Capes can be expanded so the capes can be distributed worldwide, making it a little easier for more kids to deal with the diagnosis and treatment of CHD.

To order a cape, donate, or for more information go to or, or e-mail

Sondra is working on a book documenting her daughter’s journey with CHD, through tests, hospitalizations, surgeries, and complications. The Nebraska Family Times will keep readers updated on the progress of her book.

This article appears in the May issue of the Nebraska Family Times. If you would like a FREE sample copy, call (402) 993-2467 or e-mail:   

May Editor's Letter

April showers (and snow showers!) bring May flowers!

Another month has flown by and I’m so glad to see the trees and grass getting green—even if the sky is gray today. The last few mornings and evenings I’ve seen deer grazing in the pasture across from our home, and wild turkeys in the shelterbelt. Yesterday I even heard the frogs in our pond—spring is here!

May will be a busy month for us! Cody will go on a 10-day trip to China on an Agricultural tour at the end of the month. He’s going with about 15 other students from Kansas State University and is excited to see a new part of the world.

The last month of Morgan’s junior year will be filled with the FFA and FBLA banquets, prom, finals, and signing up for summer classes through the college. She’s planning to be a counselor at a camp near our home right after school is out, and is excited to be home for the summer spending more time riding her horse and working with her cattle.

Tim and I are looking forward to both kids being home more for the summer. He will be glad to have the extra help at the ranch and I’ll be glad to have my family close.

At the end of the month I’m going to Seward for a few days to attend The Women’s Leadership Institute School for Writers. I’m excited to learn more about writing; some of the classes are taught by Concordia Publishing House Editor so I’ll be learning from the best! I’m not sure what direction God has for me with my writing, but I look forward to finding out.

May also brings Mother’s Day. I am very thankful for my kids and my very special mother and mother-in-law! I am so blessed with a wonderful family.


The Nebraska Family Times is now on FaceBook! Check us out and “like” the page; when enough people “like” the page I’ll have access to statistics about how many people viewed the site, clicked through on the links, etc. In other words I’ll know what to do to make it better! Also check out the Nebraska Family Times blog at I will have links to some of my favorite sites and other Christian information you’ll be interested in.

One of my main goals for the paper this year is to increase distribution throughout Nebraska. Would you like to help? Just tell your friends and family about the paper. Consider showing it to owners of businesses you patronize (I’ll send you free extra copies upon request.) If anyone purchases a sponsorship or advertises because you introduced them to the paper, you’ll receive commission for doing so! If you’d like to talk about promoting the paper, e-mail me at or call (402) 993-2467 and we will talk and you can decide if this is something you’d like to do. There are NO start-up costs—all supplies are provided—and no minimum selling requirements.

Have a fantastic month!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Easter Cookie Story

Bake these cookies to teach your children (or your grandchildren, or children’s friends) about Easter. Read through the directions so you can smoothly move from one step to the next and talk about the Bible readings. Plan plenty of time for discussion and questions. Step 2, breaking up the nuts, can be done early in the day or the day before, to save time while putting the rest of the recipe together.


1c. whole pecans
1 tsp. vinegar
3 egg whites
a pinch salt
1c. sugar

zipper baggie
wooden spoon


1. Preheat oven to 300

2. Place pecans in zipper baggie and let children beat them with the wooden spoon to break into small pieces. Read John 19:1-3 Explain that after Jesus was arrested, the Roman soldiers beat him.

3. Let each child smell the vinegar. Put 1 tsp. vinegar into mixing bowl. Read John 19:28-30Explain that when Jesus was thirsty on the cross he was given vinegar to drink.

4. Add egg whites to vinegar. Eggs represent life. Read John 10:10-11 Explain that Jesus gave His life to give us life.

5. Sprinkle a little salt into each child's hand. Let them taste it and brush the rest into the bowl. Read Luke 23:27 Explain that this represents the salty tears shed by Jesus' followers, and the bitterness of our own sin.

6. So far the ingredients are not very appetizing. Add 1c. sugar. Read Ps. 34:8 and John 3:16. Explain that the sweetest part of the story is that Jesus died because He loves us. He wants us to know and belong to Him.

7. Beat with a mixer on high speed for 12 to 15 minutes until stiff peaks are formed. Read Isaiah 1:18 and John 3:1-3 Explain that the color white represents the purity in God's eyes of those whose sins have been cleansed by Jesus.

8. Fold in broken nuts. Drop by teaspoons onto wax paper covered cookie sheet. Read Matt. 27:57-60 Explain that each mound represents the rocky tomb where Jesus' body was laid.

9. Put the cookie sheet in the oven, close the door and turn the oven OFF. Give each child a piece of tape and seal the oven door. Read Matt. 27:65-66. Explain that Jesus' tomb was sealed.

10. GO TO BED! Read John 16:20, 22. Explain that they may feel sad to leave the cookies in the oven overnight. Jesus' followers were in despair when the tomb was sealed.

11. On Easter morning, open the oven and give everyone a cookie. Notice the cracked surface and take a bite. The cookies are hollow! On the first Easter Jesus' followers were amazed to find the tomb open and empty.

This object lesson walks the participants through the Easter story and focuses on the hope and promise of resurrection.

This recipe appeared in the April issue of the Nebraska Family Times. If you would like a free sample copy of the Nebraska Family Times, e-mail or call (402) 993-2467.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

This article appeared in the April issue of the Nebraska Family Times. If you would like a FREE copy of that issue, e-mail

Friends Usurp Family on Facebook

New default settings for family on Facebook demote children, spouses and parents to the bottom of the page while elevating friends to the top, a change some parents find disconcerting.

Marnie Swedberg, author of SANE: Social Networking Success in 15 Minutes a Day, states, "Facebook has had a wonderful family first policy until now, a policy that has helped families stay foremost in each others' minds when on the website by posting family members in the most prominent position. This policy has been reversed."

Families on Facebook make up much of its 500 million users, half of whom log in every day.

"Facebook family connections happen every second of every day," says Swedberg, whose personal networks rank in the thousands. "I have three young adult kids myself and I like to see them every chance I get, even on Facebook. More importantly, I want to communicate that they rank number one in my world both on- and off-line."

Facebook is impacting our culture. What happens on Facebook has the potential to change things in the world of face-to-face. By demoting the visibility of family, and promoting the position of friends, Facebook is communicating a change in values, however subtle.

The good news is that it is easy to re-position your family first on your personal Facebook profile page. Simply follow these steps:

1. Login to your Profile Page.
2. On the left bar, identify the word "Friends" or "Family" under your photo.
3. Click on the editor's pencil icon that appears when you mouse over one of those words.
4. Find "Featured Friends."
5. Left click on the word "Family" and drag it above "Friends."
6. Save.

From Christian Newswire

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

April is National Organ Donation Month

What you need to know

Transplantation is one of the most remarkable success stories in the history of medicine. But despite continuing advances in medicine and technology, the need for organs and tissue is vastly greater than the number available for transplantation.

Transplantation gives hope to thousands of people with organ failure and provides many others with active and renewed lives.

Learn the facts

Fact: Anyone can be a potential donor regardless of age, race, or medical history.

Fact: All major religions in the United States support organ, eye and tissue donation and see it as the final act of love and generosity toward others.

Fact: When you are on the waiting list for an organ, what really counts is the severity of your illness, time spent waiting, blood type, and other important medical information, not your financial status or celebrity status.

Fact: An open casket funeral is possible for organ, eye and tissue donors. Through the entire donation process the body is treated with care, respect and dignity.

Fact: There is no cost to the donor or their family for organ or tissue donation.


Although there have been advances in medical technology and donation, the demand for organ, eye and tissue donation still vastly exceeds the number of donors.

o More than 100,000 men, women and children currently need life-saving organ transplants.

• Every 10 minutes another name is added to the national organ transplant waiting list.

• An average of 18 people die each day from the lack of available organs for transplant.

• In 2009, there were 8,021 deceased organ donors and 6,610 living organ donors resulting in 28,465 organ transplants.

• Last year, more than 42,000 grafts were made available for transplant by eye banks within the United States.

• 90% of Americans say they support donation, but only 30% know the essential steps to take to be a donor.

Please consider becoming an organ donor. Here’s how:

As a resident of Nebraska, you should take the following steps to ensure your decision to become a donor is carried out:

• Sign up online in the Nebraska Donor Registry at

• Indicate your wishes on your driver's license or state ID when you apply for or renew it.

• Talk to your family about your decision to become an organ donor.

Nebraska does not require family consent to carry out your decision to be an organ, eye or tissue donor. However, keeping everyone informed will help avoid any confusion or delays. Print a family notification card at


Want to learn more about donation in Nebraska?
Please contact:
Cindy Schabow
Donate Life Nebraska
Phone: 402-559-3788

A Personal Story of Organ Donation

Lori and Dave Clausen’s daughter, Rachel, was in a car accident on September 18th, 2009. Lori says, “When we realized we were not going to get the miracle we were praying for, we chose to make our 16 year old daughter the miracle for someone else, only to discover that was a decision Rachel had already made for herself when she got her driver’s license. For us it was a decision we have never regretted. We don’t think of it as our daughter living on in someone else; to us she helped some else live their own life more fully. We have learned more about organ donation since that time, and when we hear of someone receiving a transplant, we not only say a prayer for the recipient, but also for the family somewhere that chose to give hope to others in the middle of their own grief. We know first hand how precious that gift is and hope someday to hear from the recipients of our daughter’s organs. It would be a blessing to us to know that something good was able to come out of her death.”

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

April Editor's Letter

The last few weeks have been filled with sadness and joy for me, after my two private duty patients died. I cared for Lisa several times a week for more than 5 years, and I supervised Josh’s care for several years as well. Private duty nursing is unique in that these nurses develop a close relationship not only with the patient, but with their families as well.

Lisa and Josh were both disabled for many years, and required high levels of care from their parents, nurses, and other caregivers. I was blessed to get to know both of them and their families…they and their families taught me so much about life and difficult circumstances. Some of the neatest moments I have experienced as a nurse were when Lisa and Josh recognized me and smiled at me. We are sad, because they are no longer here with us...yet we are so happy knowing they are in heaven, healthy and whole.

On March 13th our niece, Leighton, was baptized. Several weeks ago my sister asked Tim and I to be sponsors, and we immediately said "yes." What a joy to be asked to be part of her spiritual life!

During the service, as Tim and I, the other sponsors, and my sister's family were going up to the front of the church for the baptism, Tim pulled a piece of paper out of his suit jacket pocket. He looked a little startled and then showed it to me. My eyes immediately filled with tears; it was the funeral service folder for my grandfather, who died almost exactly a year ago. His picture is on the front of the service folder, and seeing his face reminded me that he, too, had been baptized many years ago...and because of that baptism and his faith, he was in heaven. And now as we brought Leighton to baptism, she, too, would enter God's kingdom when she left this earth, just as Josh and Lisa had both been brought for baptism and now were in heaven.

I do not believe in coincidences...I believe that when things like this happen they are "God-incidences." I'm so thankful that God reminded me of His promise to my patients, to grandpa, to Leighton, to Tim and I and our my friend who lost her daughter in a car another friend whose grandson everyone who believes in Him...because of His love for us, and His sacrifice of His Son, Jesus, we will ALL have that promise of heaven…if we only believe.
Tim has been busy with the usual activities of early spring months—calving! We’ve had more than 100 calves so far. There are a lot of mother cows and their babies in “my” pasture—the pasture I can see from almost every window in our house—and I just love watching the calves run and jump and play in the morning when their moms are eating.

Tim and I went to a weather spotter’s training class last week. It was very interesting to learn more about the clouds and storm systems that product tornadoes. While we definitely hope NOT to see any tornadoes, we’ll know a lot more about the storms that produce them.

Morgan stays busy with her school activities and friends, and she’s thinking more about her college options. We’re going to visit several Nebraska colleges this spring. She’s even considering going to Midland College—my alma mater!

Cody is on his way home right now, to spend a few days of his spring break with us. He is eagerly looking forward to a trip to China this spring. He’ll be seeing the great sights of China and also studying some of the agriculture of the area.

I hope you enjoy this issue of the Nebraska Family Times! In looking over the articles I’ve chosen and written, a wide range of topics is covered. Please let me know if there are any topics you would like to see covered! It’s been fun to print more articles from local authors. If you are interested in writing a book, CD, or movie review, or article for the paper, please e-mail me with your review, or your ideas. I appreciate hearing from readers, whether it’s about something you enjoy about the paper, or something I could do better.

And I close with a verse from Lisa’s funeral, and two verses from a song at Josh’s funeral, both of which I hope remind you of the hope we have in Jesus.

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are passed away.
Revelation 21:4

He lives to silence all my fears;
He lives to wipe away my tears;
He lives to calm my troubled heart;
He lives all blessings to impart.

He lives, all glory to His name!
He lives, my Jesus, still the same;
Oh, the sweet joy this sentence gives;
I know that my Redeemer lives!

Happy Easter and Happy Spring!
Habitat for Humanity is Coming to Columbus!

”Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain.” Psalm 127:1

By Shelly Burke, Editor

If all goes according to plan, a needy family will see their dreams of a new home start to come true on May 1st, 2011, when ground will be broken for a Habitat for Humanity home near Bradshaw Park in Columbus, NE.

Habitat for Humanity is a non-profit organization that seeks to eliminate poverty housing and homelessness by providing housing for people whose current housing is inadequate, unsafe, or substandard.

Dan Staack, President of the local Habitat Board of Directors, said the quest to build a Habitat for Humanity home in Columbus began 3 years ago. It took about 2 ½ years to work through the application process and develop support in Columbus. On August 1, 2010, Columbus was granted permission to operate a chapter by Habitat for Humanity International.

The Family Selection process is underway, and qualified families may still apply for the home to be built in Columbus. (Contact information at the end of this article.) A family will be selected by mid-April. The houses are not given away; recipients of a Habitat for Humanity home must be able to make monthly interest-free mortgage payments. They must also invest “sweat equity” hours in physical work in partnership with Habitat to build their home. Each home takes about 15 weeks to build.

Habitat for Humanity depends extensively on donations and volunteers. Staack says “First and foremost, please ask readers to pray for our chapter, that we can meet our goal of building our first home this summer. God gives all of us different talents and treasures. All do not swing a hammer. Some cook (for volunteers), some can paint, some are good at presentations, some can landscape while others are good at organization and would be welcome on boards or committees.” Donations of tools, material, permanent storage facility, building sites, and money are needed.

Staack continues, “Any monetary donations become what I like to call a revolving fund of humanity. What comes into Columbus stays in Columbus for future homes.” As an example of the “revolving fund,” the Grand Island chapter of Habit for Humanity started in the late 1980’s. They are building five homes this year, and three of them are being built using money from mortgage payments coming in from previously built homes.

The Habitat for Humanity organization started in 1975, and since then 400,000 homes have been built world-wide, and an additional 100,000 homes are expected to be built annually.

To inquire about qualifications to have a Habitat for Humanity home built for you, volunteer time (you’ll be asked to fill out a form indicating skills and availability) or donate supplies or money, call (402) 564-4663; leave a message and your call will be returned.

Additional information from

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Favorite Links

I enjoy checking out websites that others suggest, and today I'm going to share some of my favorite links with you. Several of them will inspire you, several will help you save money, and one of them is my favorite non-profit organization. Please share YOUR favorite links in the comments; I'll publish selected ones in a future post.
To inspire you:

"Fragrant Offerings," blog posts by Deb Burma, at
"Crosswalk," a Christian site featuring Bible study tools, devotions, and articles about a wide range of topics relevant to Christian living, found at

To help you save money:

"Living on a Dime," containing many articles about saving money, getting out of debt, and living a more prosperous life. Check out this Kansas family at
"Dollar Stretcher" articles cover frugal living ideas for all areas of life, at
...And my favorite local, non-profit organization:

The Columbus Rescue Mission in Columbus, NE, and the Living Water Rescue Mission in York, NE (soon to open). Read inspiring stories, testimonials, and current needs at The hard work of Chaplain Ted and his staff and volunteers is truly changing lives, and bringing them to Christ.
I hope you enjoy these sites...and remember, send me your favorites!

Friday, April 1, 2011

April Issue Hits the Stands!

The April issue of the Nebraska Family Times has been printed, delivered, and mailed!

It is always neat to see the paper in “real life”—by the time it comes out in print I’ve read and re-read every article and I’ve seen the paper in “newspaper form” on the file Jennifer e-mails me. However, the color accents in the paper show up as blue on the computer screen, no matter what color they are on the actual paper. And there’s just something about holding the paper in my hands that makes it real (I don’t think I’ll ever get a Nook or other electronic reader!).

I think this issue looks great! Jennifer chose a very striking graphic for the front page, as you can see from the picture.

The April Nebraska Family Times features an article about the Columbus chapter of the Habitat for Humanity, which is planning to build a home in Columbus starting in May. The paper also contains articles titled, History of the King James Bible, Boys Wrestling Girls—A Clash of Worlds and Worldviews, and School Becomes Curse-Free. Local Christian writer and speaker Deb Burma is also featured.

You can pick up your issue of the Nebraska Family Times at various locations around Columbus. If you would like to receive a FREE issue of the paper, e-mail me at or call (402) 993-2467.