Wednesday, December 26, 2012

First Christmas in Heaven

Several of my friends are grieving the death of loved ones this past year. Friends and readers, I pray that this poem will bring you some peace and joy, knowing that your father, mother, son, daughter, friend and/or loved one has just celebrated his or her first Christmas in Heaven.
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Christmas in Heaven

I’ve had my first Christmas in Heaven,
A glorious, wonderful day.
I stood with the saints of the ages
Who found Christ, the Truth and the Way.

I sang with the heavenly choir,
Just think, I joined in to sing
And, oh, what celestial music
We brought to our Savior and King!

We sang the glad songs of redemption,
How Jesus to Bethlehem came.
And how they called His name -- Jesus --
That all might be saved through His Name.

We sang once again with the angels
The message they sang that blest morn,
When shepherds first heard the glad story,
That Jesus, the Savior, was born.

0 dear ones, I wish you had been there.
No Christmas on earth could compare
With all of the rapture and glory
We witnessed in Heaven so fair.

You know how I always loved Christmas.
It seemed such a wonderful day,
With all of my loved ones around me
The children so happy that day.

Yes, now I can see why I love it,
And, oh, what a joy it will be
When you and my loved ones are with me
To share in the glories I see.

So, dear ones on earth, here’s my greeting.
Look up till the day dawn appears.
Oh, what a Christmas awaits us
Beyond our parting tears!!

Author Unknown

Friday, December 14, 2012

May we be Light in this Dark World

by Shelly Burke, Editor

May God bless and comfort the victims of the shooting in Connecticut. It's almost more heartbreaking than I can bear, thousands of miles away and knowing no one involved...when I think of my kids, their friends and parents, and teachers I know and love, I cannot imagine the heartbreak of those in Connecticut. 

Here's what I've been studying this week: Jesus said, "You are the light of the world...let your light shine before others..." Matt. 5:14, 16. May we let our lights shine God's love to help the hurting and grieving whether in different states or right next door. And as my brother-in-law says, "God bless us all. It's our only chance."

Friday, December 7, 2012

Christmas Quiz




How much do you know about the birth of Jesus? Take this quiz and find out. Hint: all of the answers are found in Matthew chapters 1 and 2 and/or Luke chapters 1 and 2.




1. Who told Mary that she would give birth to Jesus?
A.      Joseph
B.      A multitude of angels
C.      The angel Michael
D.      The angel Gabriel

2. What did Joseph do after he found out Mary was pregnant?
A. Had her stoned
B. Married her
C. Took her to Bethlehem so no one would know she was pregnant
D. Sent her to live with Elizabeth

3. Who was the Roman emperor when Jesus was born?
                A. John the Baptist
                B. Joseph
                C. Caesar Augustus
                D. Pontus Pilate

4. Who did the multitude of angels, praising God, appear to?
                A. Shepherds
                B. Wise men
                C. Mary, Joseph, and Jesus
                D. Inn keepers

5. What city did the wise men first go to, asking “Where is He who is born King of the Jews?”
                A. Capernaum
                B. Syria
                C. Bethlehem
                D. Jerusalem

6. God promised this man that he would not die until he saw Christ.
                A. John the Baptist
                B. Zechariah
                C. Simeon
                D. Paul

7. In which two Gospels does is the Nativity narrative recorded?
                A. Matthew and Luke
                B. Matthew and John
                C. Mark and Luke
                D. Luke and John

8. According to the Bible, how many wise men visited Jesus?
                A. 3
                B. 4
                C. too many to count
                D. no number of wise men is mentioned in the Gospels

9. Shortly after Jesus was born, and angel told Joseph to escape with Mary and Jesus to:
                A. Jerusalem
                B. The Red Sea
                C. Egypt
                D. Nazareth

10. What did John the Baptist do?
                A. Baptize Jesus
                B. Prepare the way for the Lord
                C. Protect Jesus as He grew up
                D. Guide the wise men to Jesus

ANSWERS: 1. D, 2. B, 3. C, 4.  A, 5. D, 6. C, 7. A, 8. D, 9. C, 10. B 


Click over to Home is Where the Mom Is to get the links to my very favorite Christmas music! 

(Would you like to receive Christian news and information in your mailbox every month? 
Do you know someone else who would? 
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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Medical Mission Team Returning to Nicaragua; Spaghetti Feed Sunday!


Mark your calendars for the Columbus Medical Mission Team Spaghetti Feed Fundraiser this Sunday, Dec. 9th, at Peace Lutheran Church in Columbus, from 12:00-2:00 PM, and silent auction and Christmas Bake Sale.

The Medical Mission Team will be returning to Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua in February for their fourth trip. Read about the team and a previous trip at Medical Mission Team Traveling to Nicaragua



Friday, November 30, 2012

Christmas is coming!

A gift subscription to the "Nebraska Family Times" is a "one-size-fits-all" gift for anyone on your list! For just $20 for 12 issues the recipient will receive local, state and national news from a Christian point of view. He or she will also receive information to "inspire, encourage, and motivate the Christian walk."

To order, click "Subscribe" on the sidebar of this page or e-mail shelly@shellyburke.net. The gift recipient will receive a gift card indicating your gift and you AND the recipient will receive a "Words to Live By" verse card for 2013.



Friday, November 9, 2012


Election Results
By Shelly Burke, Editor

How do you feel about the election? Are you happy? Disappointed? Fearful of the future? I’ve always been humbled by how the words of the Bible apply to ANY situation and today I realized that that includes presidential elections.

Here is what I found:

God instructs us to pray for our leaders:
                “…I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions…”
                                1 Timothy 2:1-2

God does not want us to fear:
                “For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power and of love, and of a sound mind.”
                                2 Timothy 1:7

                “For the righteous…is not afraid of bad news: his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.”
                                Psalm 112:7

God wants us to be faithful to Him:
                “So be careful to do what the Lord your God has commanded you; do not turn aside to the right or to the left. Walk in all the way that the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess.”
                                Deuteronomy 5:32-33

“Blessed is man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life which God has promised to those who love Him.”
                James 1:12

God hears our prayers—even if He does not answer them as we want them to be answered:
                “Give ear to my words, o Lord;
                consider my groaning.
                Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God,
for to You do I pray.”
                Psalm 5:1-2

God has a plan for those who love Him:
                “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, who God has prepared for those who love Him.”
                                1 Corinthians 2:9

                “And now, o Lord, for what do I wait? My hope in in You.”
                                Psalm 39:7

God gives us hope:
                “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may about in hope.”
                                Romans 15:13

I urge you to study these verses. They apply to the results of the election and to so many other circumstances.

Thank You, Lord, for Your wise words that we can depend on for guidance, direction, encouragement, and reassurance. Amen.

(I’m also blogging at www.achristianmomsguide.blogspot.com.
Today you can read my thoughts about this quote: “Enjoy the little things in life,
 for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.”) 

Friday, November 2, 2012


Giving Thanks
By Shelly Burke, Editor and Publisher, Nebraska Family Times

Since Thanksgiving is in November, I’ve decided to make November the month of “giving thanks.”

(Google Images)
The Bible commands us to be thankful; Psalm 106:1 says, “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.” This command is repeated in Psalm 107:1 and 136:1. The Bible also tells us that we should be “always giving thanks…for everything.” (Ephesians 5:20) and that we should “…give thanks in all circumstances.” (1 Thess. 5:18).

One way to be conscious of giving thanks is to keep a Gratitude Journal. Research has shown that people who keep a Gratitude Journal feel overall more optimistic than people who do not. And “attitude of gratitude” has been linked to better sleep, a decrease in anxiety, better overall health, and higher satisfaction with life in general.

Today I am so thankful for my friends. When I think about friends, I categorize them as to how I know them: I have church friends, cattle-show friends, Genoa friends, Columbus friends, friends from the small business group I belong to, college friends…each group of friends is unique. Today I had the opportunity to introduce a “church friend” and a “friend from our small business group.” It was fun to watch them get to know each other; I enjoy introducing friends from different parts of my life to each other, and watching them (hopefully!) become friends too.

Ecclesiastes tells us that “Two are better than one…for if they fall, one will lift up his fellow (friend).” (Eccles. 4:9). I’ve seen this many times during the last few years—when a friend experiences a crisis—illness, death in the family, or other problem, friends come quickly to “life up his (or her!) fellow.” I’m so thankful that my friends—friends of all “categories”-- have been there to lift me up during hard times in my life the last few months.

Today I thank God for you, friends! May He bless you all.

How have friends “lifted you up” during a difficult time in your life?

(I’m also blogging about things I’m thankful for in being a mom, at
www.achristianmomsguide.blogspot.com Click to see what I had to be
thankful for after I dropped a coconut on Morgan’s head!) 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Living Water Rescue Mission completes Ladies and Families Phase

By Shelly Burke, Editor

(This article appeared in the October issue of the 
Nebraska Family Times. If you would like a FREE
sample issue of the paper, e-mail shelly@shellyburke.net)

The Living Water Rescue Mission (LWRM) in York, Nebraska, recently completed the Ladies and Families Phase. As of July 26th, the LWRM has the capacity to provide overnight facilities for up to six women, five single women and their infants, and six family members (couples must be married) in addition to the men’s overnight guest dorm.  

Chaplain Dave Martell, Associate Director,  continues to look ahead. “The construction is done, but the most important task—ministry—lies ahead.”  When the LWRM was built there were questions as to whether there was a need for a Gospel rescue mission in this rural area. The LWRM has been open for sixteen months and Martell reports, “The men’s overnight guest dorm has been running at full capacity for monthsSince the Ladies and Families phase has opened we have been serving meals to an average of 20 people, three times a day. We are on track to serve almost 22,000 meals in the next year. “

The Ladies and Families Phase is volunteer dependent; there are no paid staff members. Volunteers are needed to mentor women guests and lead chapel. Volunteers serve in many capacities throughout all areas of the mission. Martell says, “God called upon His people to build His mission. It only makes sense that God would send His people to keep His mission doing His ministry. This is a call on His people to facilitate His work for His kingdom.”

The mission is praying to obtain funds for more paid staff members, and donations of food, clothing, household items and working bicycles are always appreciated, as are monetary donations. Martell says that the thing they need most is prayer that the mission will fulfill its ministry. 

Overnight guests of the mission (and the Rescue Missions in Columbus and Norfolk) receive free temporary housing, showers, meals, personal care items, and laundry services. Guests who are not in need of housing can receive clothing, food and furniture from the mission. These items are given at no cost to those in need. If you have items to donate, please consider doing so to the Rescue Mission nearest you.
The LWRM, Columbus Rescue Mission and Norfolk Rescue Mission also offer guests The New Life program, a non-denominational Christian discipleship program. One goal of the program is to encourage our men and women to establish a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. The program uses the Bible, various textbooks and some videotapes and all are Biblically sound.

Congratulations to the Living Water Rescue Mission on completing the Ladies and Families Phase! God bless you as well as the Columbus and Norfolk Rescue Missions as you continue to serve those who need your services!

The Living Water Rescue Mission is located at 701 S. Lincoln Ave., York and can be reached by phone at: (402) 362-0127  or e-mail: info@lwrmyork.org

The Columbus Rescue Mission is located at 1471 25th Avenue in Columbus and can be reached by phone at (402) 563-1096 or e-mail: info@columbusrescuemission.org.  

The Norfolk Rescue Mission is located at 111 N. 9th Street in Norfolk and can be reached by phone at (402) 371-6484.     

Monday, October 1, 2012

Upcoming Retreat

Hello friends!

Happy October! It's hard for me to believe that summer is over...heck, part of fall is over too! This morning when I went out with Jenny (the beagle) at 5:45 it was almost 60 degrees out. A few hours later I met my mother-in-law at the vet's office (her chocolate lab, Cadbury, needed a minor procedure) to help her take the dog in. It was raining, windy, and the car thermometer said just 48 degrees.

Have you ever been to Camp Luther? It's a Lutheran Camp (campers and friends of ALL denominations are welcome at any and all Camp Luther activities) between Columbus, NE, and Schuyler, NE. Although our church has supported Camp Luther activities for years, I had never been out there until last November, for a retreat. Camp Luther is out in the country, in a beautiful setting of rolling hills, trees, flowers, and even a lake. It's the perfect place to get away for a retreat. My good friend Deb Burma is holding a retreat at Camp Luther next month. I hope you'll consider attending! Deb is an inspiring speaker; one minute she had us laughing, the next minute crying...and throughout all of her talks she points us toward the most important part of our lives--our faith. I hope to see you there! 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Columbus Woman's Breast Cancer Fight Strengthens Her Faith

I feel so much more connected with God now.”

By Shelly Burke, Editor

Lynn Vollbracht knew that the results of her mammogram were not normal when she waited longer than usual for the radiologist to come in and talk with her. When he finally came in and told her he’d already set up an appointment with a surgeon, Lynn expected him to diagnose another harmless cyst; she’d had several in the past. When she voiced this to him, however, he solemnly told her that this was not a cyst, it was almost certainly cancer.

Lynn remembers, “I started praying right away. I prayed that I would feel God’s peace, no matter what I heard. I felt that peace immediately.”

That peace stayed with Lynn through the next difficult days of waiting for the results of the biopsy and beginning treatment; first a lumpectomy, then chemotherapy followed by radiation (Lynn will be more than half way through her course of 33 radiation treatments when you read this).

Lynn, who lives in Columbus, NE, with her husband Mark, put off having regular mammograms after her doctor left town. She delayed finding a new doctor as she was very busy as the Director of Day Care at Immanuel Daycare and Preschool in Columbus and spending time with her husband and children, Natalie, Ashley and Lindsey, and grandchildren Addison and Duncan.  

When she finally scheduled the mammogram, it had been several years since the last one. She wasn’t worried; she’d been doing breast self-exams and hadn’t found any lumps and there was no family history of breast cancer (90-95% of breast cancers are diagnosed in people with no family history).

Events moved quickly after the mammogram on March 23, 2012 and official breast cancer diagnosis on March 28th. Lynn had surgery on April 3rd, opting for a lumpectomy rather than a complete breast removal (the lump was a little over an inch in size); doctors told her that statistically a lumpectomy offered the same cure rate as a mastectomy and would mean less recovery time and a quicker start of chemotherapy. She had her first chemotherapy treatment on April 30th, just over a month after the diagnosis was made.

Lynn told the preschoolers and her grandkids about her diagnosis, and explained that she would lose her hair during her treatment. She recalls this as being the hardest part of the treatment; “I would look in the mirror and be shocked, because I had never seen myself without hair—it is such a part of us, especially women.”

The kids unexpectedly helped brighten chemotherapy days for many people in the Columbus area. Lynn’s treatments took place at the Columbus Cancer Center, and she spent many hours there (some forms of chemotherapy are administered over several hours). At one point she and her daughter Lindsey, who accompanied her on chemo days, noticed how “boring” the walls were. They had a brainstorm and asked for permission to bring in artwork made by the Immanuel preschoolers and daycare kids and hang it on the walls. Lynn said, “The kids were so excited to do something to help others who were sick, and their art work really brightened up the place. We still take new pictures every few weeks. The patients and nurses love it! It is an example of something positive—something I would never have dreamed of happening—coming from such a trying time.”

Lynn’s faith and prayer life have become much stronger since her diagnosis. “I feel so much more connected with God now. I’m so thankful to my parents for bringing me up in faith.  When I start to worry and stumble, I am reminded to put the whole situation back into God’s hands.”

Lynn has received many cards, words of inspiration, and Bible verses during her treatment. She marvels at their timing; “I received just the right verses and words at just the right times. It was so reassuring when people told me they were praying for me. I could truly feel God’s presence and peace.”

Since her diagnosis Lynn has realized the importance of screenings and urges women to get mammograms as recommended by their doctors. “Just do it!” Lynn says. “While the humorous accounts of how mammograms feel are funny to read, I’m afraid they scare women. Mammograms really are not painful, and the discomfort is so much less than what you go through if cancer is diagnosed. Please, have your mammogram and other health screenings!”

Read more about Lynn's journey on her


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Lynn encourages everyone who has been diagnosed with cancer, or knows someone who has been, to check out the American Cancer Society. They offer many resources, including wigs (if not covered by insurance), books to help explain cancer to kids (and grandkids), classes that cover many issues related to cancer and much more. Go to www.cancer.org or call 1-800-227-2345.   

Friday, August 31, 2012


His Kids Camp Part 2
By Shelly Burke, Editor

(Read His Kids Camp Part 1 here.)

(Editor’s Note: I was a volunteer camp nurse at Camp Luther’s His Kids Camp in June.)

Campers enjoying afternoon snack time
The morning medication pass is the biggest one all day, but the campers and their buddies were patient while I double-checked names and medications. As I was getting things put away Josh Rausch, the Program Director, invited me to chapel.

It was heart-warming to walk down the hill and hear the campers and their buddies chatting about the hot weather and what was scheduled for the day. Buddies cautioned their campers to watch their step on the rough ground, and helped them find a seat in the beautiful old building.

A camper and his buddy signing
The Lord's Prayer
From the outside I couldn’t imagine how the 50+ campers, buddies, and volunteers would fit into the chapel—but we did! And when we started singing—just WOW! I’m quite sure God heard our voices raised to Him! The campers who had been there before enthusiastically did all of the actions and those of us who hadn’t heard the songs quickly caught on. Campers and buddies listened intently as Josh taught how our hearts became dirty with sin, but God washed those sins away when Jesus died for us on the cross and then rose again. The simple lesson—the basis of Christianity--was presented in a way everyone understood and took joy in hearing.

The talent show on the final evening of camp was clearly a high point for campers and their buddies—as well as everyone who attended. Buddies worked with their camper to find a talent they wanted to share, and from the medication room I could see and hear some of the campers practicing their talent. Despite getting hints about the talent show, nothing could have prepared me for the actual event.  

As everyone found seats in Gerwick Hall, Josh, and Christina Hansen, another director, finalized the order of appearance of campers and prepared music and other props. As campers began showing their talents, I was amazed and touched at the response of everyone in the audience.

Campers and their buddies performing
a song for the talent show
Campers shared a wide variety of talents; one camper sang Our God is an Awesome God, and another invited all of us to stand, put our hands over our hearts, and join him as he sang and played drums to the National Anthem. A deaf camper and his buddy signed the Lord’s Prayer. Another camper demonstrated his ability to put together a puzzle. A camper I’d barely heard say a word smiled shyly as she was cheered and encouraged to sing a song.

Josh was quick to join a camper who had a bit of stage fright; he held her hand as they skipped across the stage. Another camper invited most of the audience to be characters in a play she had written. Laughter swept through the hall as she designated her buddy, a very sweet young lady, to be her “evil stepsister.” (I was glad the play ended on a happy note, with the “sisters” hugging each other.)

Every talent was applauded with cheers and shouts and whistles from the audience, and every camper was valued and lifted up for his or her talent and courage at performing in front of others. God’s love for every single one of us, regardless of our abilities, was poured out through everyone in the building that evening; I have tears in my eyes now, almost three months later, remembering.

I plan to make His Kids Camp a part of my summer every year! You can take part too. Volunteers are needed as buddies and helpers. (Buddies are given thorough training so they are comfortable with the needs of their campers.)  Nurses are needed to distribute medications and give treatments.

The camper in the middle wrote the play in which her
"evil step sister" (right) played a role. You can see that
they were friends again!
Supplies and financial donations are always appreciated. If you’d like you can donate specifically to sponsor a camper and his or her buddy; a full sponsorships is $400 and partial sponsorships are needed as well. And of course, special needs campers are needed! Please spread the word about His Kids Camp and Respite Weekends (see upcoming dates on the back page of this issue of The Nebraska Family Times). For more information go to www.campluther.org or www.hiskidscamp.org or contact Leila Rehbein, His Kids Camp Director, at (402) 981-5732. Camp Luther and His Kids Camp are also on Facebook.

Camp Luther also offers a variety of camps and retreats for kids and adults of all ages.

(For His Kids Camp Part 1, see the August issue of the Nebraska Family Times or e-mail shelly@shellyburke.net or call (402) 993-2467 to request a free copy.)

Monday, August 6, 2012


I Can Do All Things Through Him Who Strengthens Me
Philippians 4:13

By Shelly Burke

From Google Images
~I~ I am the one who has to take responsibility for the things I need to do—no one else can.

~Can Do~   “Can.” Not “might” or “possibly could” or “can do the easy things” but can take the actions necessary. I might not like it, I might not want to do it, but I can do, with God’s help.

~All Things~ Not “some things” or “most things” or “the easy things;” not just “fun things” or “pretty things” but all things—the ugly things, the things that I never imagined I’d have to do, the sad things, the unfair things—all things that I need to do.

~Through Him~ Not by myself, but through Him, with His help—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We—God and I—will do it together.

~Who Strengthens~ I don’t have to feel strong; I don’t have to be strong. He will do the strengthening that allows and enables me to do what I need to do.

~Me~ He strengthens me when I need it. He cares enough to help me do what I need to do, when I need to do it.

Thank You, Lord, that You care enough about me and what I’m going through to give me the strength to do what I need to do. Thank You that I am not alone in anything I need to do. Amen.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Fair Week!


The Platte County Fair is going on this week and that brings back a lot of fun memories.

When I was "4-H age" (age 8-18 as of January 1st of that year) my sisters and I were very active in 4-H. We sewed, cooked, learned how to garden, and gave demonstrations. I remember trying to find 4 or 5 IDENTICAL beans or beets or tomatoes to take to the fair--they had to be the same size, shape, and color to qualify for a blue or purple ribbon. I remember sewing that last button on my dress (one year my very elaborate dress had about 10 buttons on each cuff, and another 15 or 20 buttons down the front!) on the way to the fair. I remember seeing friends I hadn't seen all summer, and eagerly looking to see how we'd done on our projects.

I remember mom teaching us how to measure ingredients accurately and helping us sew perfect seams and teaching us how to make buttonholes. Looking back, I know that I didn't appreciate her endless patience as she taught us—thanks mom! Through 4-H we learned not only the practical lessons of how to make muffins or sew a hem, but lessons about following directions and working hard to make our entries perfect. We also learned life-lessons of confidence and talking to adults as we modeled our clothes and talked to judges about our other entries.

Early morning sheep washing 2009
Until Cody and Morgan were 4-H age and showed at the fair I didn’t realize how much parents looked forward to the too. We share secret smiles with other parents in the early morning hours as we rush between animal pens or back to the truck to get a forgotten item. It's the tears of pride we try to hide (but other parents always understand) when our kids do well...the swelling of our hearts when we see siblings helping each other or other kids when an animal gets loose or someone needs a word of encouragement.

It's why we put the (seemingly) endless dollars and hours into projects, why we wake our kids up early (even when they're crabby) to take care of an animal or work on a project, why we practice patience as we teach (sometimes over and over!) our kids a new skill.
We know it's not just the ribbons they'll get during the fair, it's the life-long lessons the kids will take with them (like going back into the ring for dog agility after your dog took a detour out of the ring and around the whole building), and hopefully pass on to their kids someday.

This is the first year since the new millennium that neither Cody nor Morgan is showing an animal at the fair. It’s bittersweet for me because there were so many wonderful family moments at the fair.

2010
One of my favorite memories is the year both Cody and Morgan were in the same class of showmanship during the cattle show. After several rounds, they were the only two left, competing against each other for the championship. For more than 20 minutes they were the only ones in the ring, leading and setting up their animals, watching the judge, and doing everything “just right.” Neither of them made a mistake. Finally the judge asked them to switch places in the ring…and Morgan turned her calf counterclockwise instead of clockwise. And that was it; Cody was the champion. But it was a friendly competition and both were happy at how they’d done!

2010
Another great memory is the year my parents and grandfather came to the fair. It was so neat to share the experience with them; although we’d exhibited at many fairs as kids, my sisters and I never showed animals. It was a very hot year, but mom and dad and grandpa sat patiently through the sheep show and the cattle show. Cody and Morgan were so proud and happy to have them there and answered all of their questions about showing.

For two memorable (and very tiring) years in a row, Morgan showed sheep, cattle, and dogs. That meant three days in a row of being to the fair before 6:00 AM and showing for much of the day. Morgan did a great job and won several trophies…but agreed that showing three different species was just too much.

Today and tomorrow Morgan will be cheering on several friends as they show their sheep and pigs for the last time at the county fair. Tomorrow she and Cody will be helping our neighbor’s kids show their cattle for the very first time.

Good luck at your county fair, everyone! Cherish those memories!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Fair Time!

For the first time in 12 years, neither Cody or Morgan will be showing any type of animal at the fair!

For two memorable (and very tiring!) years, Morgan showed sheep, cattle AND dogs at the fair, and for many years they both showed cattle.

I love fair time and was feeling a little sad about not being actively involved this year...until I heard about the "Nebraska Made--Nebraska Grown" event and People's Choice Contest that will take place at the fair on Saturday, July 14th, from NOON-8:00PM in the Exhibit Hall.

The Nebraska Family Times will be taking part--if you're a subscriber or just want to see what we're all about, please stop by! FREE sample copies of the paper will be available, and everyone who purchases a subscription to the Nebraska Family Times on Saturday will receive a FREE copy of my book Home is Where the Mom Is; A Christian Mom's Guide to Caring for Herself, Her Family, and Her Home. (Click here for more information about  Home is Where the Mom IsIf you already have a subscription you can extend it, or give a gift subscription, and receive the free book! 

I know some of the other exhibitors who will be taking part in the event, and there will be some really yummy samples there, too!

I look forward to seeing you on Saturday!

(To see one of my very favorite pictures of Morgan at the fair, go to Home is Where the Mom Is)



Friday, July 6, 2012


Cautions for Christians in a Political Season

By Daniel Darling
In America, politics is all around us, whether you want it to be or not. But as we anticipate the election of 2012, it is reaching a fever pitch. Being a political junkie myself, I find myself being, at times, so consumed by it that it distracts me from my main calling as a follower of Christ. So I thought perhaps it would be good to consider a few guidelines that might govern our conversations, activism and online discussions in this political season.
1) Don't convince yourself that one election will solve everything. Elections do have consequences and good leadership can effect social change. Still, the root of our problems in America is as old as civilization itself: it’s the problem of sin. And the solution is not a politician or a platform. It's not the Tea Party or the Republican party or the Democratic party or any party. The solution is the Gospel. And as good as we try to make life on earth, it will never be the utopia we desire. This longing will only be fulfilled when Jesus returns as King and establishes the New Heaven and Earth.
2) It's Ok to favor a candidate, but don't do it at the expense of the others. Politics is strange in that you not only line up behind a candidate you like, you have to do so by convincing yourself and others that the other candidates are inept, incompetent, dangerous, malicious and the cousin of Hitler. It could be that good men and women are running on all sides, but you favor the polices, experience, and character of one in particular. Can you do that without tearing down the opponent? That may seem impossible in this environment, but I think it’s worth a try.
3) Remember there is more to life than politics. I know some people (myself the chief), who can't have a single conversation without it breaking into a political discussion. Every social ill is traced back to the ideology they oppose. But everything doesn't have a political component and every single wrong thing in the world isn't the fault of the politicians you despise. And remember that while politics is important, it's not ultimate.
4) Remember you are a Christian. Yes, even in your political discussions and activism, you're a follower of Christ. Is your faith so intrinsically tied in with your politics that people think the gospel equals low taxes, less government, and ending Obamacare? And do you obey the Scripture's commands to love, forgive, honor, respect,and pray while you're discussing political leaders with whom you disagree? It doesn't really matter that "the other side does it." Christians don't play by this calculus. We're different. We're followers of Jesus, called to a higher standard. In this, we demonstrate the gospel.
5) Reaffirm your belief in the sovereignty of God over all things. Every year they tell me this is the most important election of my lifetime. And maybe this election is really that vital. We want to elect and appoint men of character and competence. But ultimately God holds all things in his hands. He's not limited by voter turnout. He can work with rulers of all kinds and ultimately will use what happens to bring about his Kingdom. In other words, God won't be in Heaven on Tuesday night, November 6th, nervously watching CNN. (And no, my conservative friends, he won't be watching Fox either.)
6) Remember that the most important thing already happened. Elections may be hugely important in America. But the most important and most consequential event in history already happened. Jesus rose from the dead. He's alive. He's coming back as King. And Christians live in light of this profound reality. So in spite of the decaying world around us, we have hope. So we can smile. We can shed cynicism. We don't have to give in to the anger and despair of our age.
Daniel Darling is the Senior Pastor of Gages Lake Bible Church in the northwest suburbs of Chicago and is the author of Teen People of the Bible, Crash CourseiFaith, and Real. Read more at www.danieldarling.com. www.danieldarling.com Reprinted with permission. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

His Kids Camp Part 1


By Shelly Burke, RN

I’m having a hard time finding the words to describe my experience at His Kids Camp at Camp Luther last week. I volunteered as the Camp Nurse (I love that title!)  from Wednesday afternoon through Saturday morning.

His Kids Camp is a camp for special needs children and adults. The group that I was there for was made up mostly of teens and young adults with a variety of diagnosis, including Down Syndrome, autism, and so on. Each camper was paired with at least one “buddy,” who assisted that camper as needed with activities, meals, getting dressed, and so on.

I arrived before the campers did so I could get the medication area organized, and I was more than a little nervous about meeting the campers. I hadn’t been to camp for many years (and if I remember right I got so homesick my parents had to come and get me after just a day) and had never worked with special needs kids or adults. Would they take their medications for me? Would I remember their names? Would I be asked to handle difficult behaviors? Would they like me (do we ever stop asking that question)?

These thoughts were swirling around in my mind as the first campers and their parents and caregivers came in. Most of my nervousness went away and I quickly got into “nurse” mode when the parents brought their child’s medications to me. They gave hints for getting their child to take medications and described in detail treatments and other cares needed. When two campers came in with CPAP machines (the machine forces air through a mask into the mouth and nose of people who suffer from sleep apnea) I wasn’t sure if the buddies would know how to use them, but a buddy quickly came and reassured the father that we’d make sure the machines were used correctly.

When a mom handed me her daughter’s g-tube and liquid medications and told me about her g-button (a device used to give nutrition and medications directly into the stomach) I assured her I’d worked with a g-button many times and it would be no problem to take care of her daughter’s.  

Giving medications at supper time was hectic; I hadn’t figured out a routine yet and didn’t know any of the campers. However, they all came up with their buddies, who told me their names, and everyone took their medications without complaint. I began to breathe a little bit easier.

After supper I went to work double checking the medications and figuring out a routine for giving them. I looked up several unfamiliar medications on the computer and got everything in order. The little girl with the g-button came in for her medications, and while she didn’t speak, her smile spoke volumes. When she circled her fist in front of her chest and then pointed at me, I wasn’t sure what she meant. Her buddies were eager to tell me that it meant “I like you!” and I quickly signed the same back to her. After I was done she gave me the tightest hug I think I’d ever received! At that point I knew the rest of camp was going to be great!

The campers joined in the big hall before bedtime and sang several songs. When I heard the director ask everyone to join hands for the Lord’s prayer, I peeked out the window of the med room so I could say it with them. All had joined hands…except for a camper and his buddy across the room from me. They seemed to be talking to each other and I was wondering if the camper was having trouble…and then I realized, with tears in my eyes, that the camper was deaf and he and his buddy were signing The Lord’s Prayer to each other.

(Check back for part two of my account of His Kids Camp. It just gets better!)

(For more information about His Kids Camp, go to http://www.campluther.org/his-kids-camp/)


I’m also blogging at Home is Where the Mom Is
Click to read the first articles in the “Teach Your Children Well” series.

Monday, July 2, 2012

July 2012 Issue is Out!

The July 2012 issue of the Nebraska Family Times is out!

If you're a subscriber you should have received your issue in the mail! Otherwise pick up your issue at one of the Sponsor Locations (see the other tabs on this page for locations). If you would like a FREE sample issue, e-mail me at shelly@shellyburke.net with the address to which you'd like it sent.

One of my favorite articles in this issue of the Nebraska Family Times is titled "Cautions for Christians in a Political Season." The article gives several good guidelines for being a responsible voter and for expressing your political beliefs in a Christian manner. I especially like the last point given by author Daniel Darling: Remember that the most important thing has already happened. ... The most important and consequential event in history already happened. Jesus rose from the dead. He is alive....

You'll also find suggestions for "Inching Toward God" during difficult times in your life, as well as "A 3-Step Plan to Teach God's Word to Your Kids" and "The Art of Thrifting." 

My prayer with every issue of the Nebraska Family Times is to print and write articles that will "inspire, encourage, and motivate readers in their Christian walk." If there is a topic or news item that you would like to see covered, please let me know!

In the light of decisions being made in Washington DC and the uncertainty in some of the country due to lack of rain, and other parts of the country due to too much rain, wind, and severe storms, I find comfort in this thought:

I don't have to know, 
as long as I know The One Who knows. 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Camp Nurse and Favorite Links


I am having a wonderful time at camp this week! I’m volunteering as the camp nurse at His Kids Camp, a camp for special needs kids at Camp Luther. I haven’t even been her for 24 hours and have already been touched by the kids, their buddies (each camper is paired with a buddy or two to help with activities, meals, etc.) and the other volunteers and staff members.

I’ll write a full post about His Kids Camp next week but for today I’m going to list some of my favorite websites. It’s a diverse group, and I hope you’ll enjoy them as I do. When I update my blogs I’ll be suggesting new links, so please let me know what your favorite links are, either in the comments or in an e-mail to shelly@shellyburke.net.

First of all, His Kids Camp. Click here for more information about the camp. If you know a special needs camper, or would like to be a buddy or volunteer, please contact Josh or Christina—contact information is on the website.

If you’re like me and you really don’t like to do housework, check out the Fly Lady at www.flylady.net. You’ll find hundreds of tips on clearing the clutter, organizing your home, and keeping it clean. She also discusses the emotional aspects of clutter and getting rid of clutter. On one page she says, Our FlyLady system is all about establishing little habits that string together into simple routines to help your day run on automatic pilot.” I don’t use every single part of her system, but I’ve found enough great information to make it worthwhile.

I am so thankful for the pastors that have been a part of my life. We don’t see the many, many hours they devote to shepherding their flocks of church members; they’re part of some of our happiest and saddest moments on earth. Today I came across a great article that reminded me to thank our pastors (priests and other church leaders). Read “WhatOur Pastors Wish we Knew” and encourage your pastor today!

For pro-life news that you probably won’t get elsewhere, go to www.lifenews.com. LifeNews covers the topics of abortion, assisted suicide and euthanasia, bioethic issues like human cloning and stem cell research, and campaigns and elections and legal and legislative issues.

One of the best books I’ve read recently is “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin. The book documents her year of “Test driving the wisdom of the ages, the current scientific studies, and the lessons of popular culture about how to be happier.”
I’m happy in my life—don’t get me wrong! And Gretchen was happy in her life, too. She wanted to make sure she felt grateful every single day, in the ordinary things. She wanted to look past the little things that bugged her, to the bigger picture. She wanted to set a higher standard for herself in all of her roles—as mother, daughter, writer, and so on.

“The Happiness Project” will inspire and motivate you to consider what you can do to make your life a little happier. The website is full of great information to help you design your own happiness project. I have used many of Rubin’s hints and tips and some of her downloads. I also get her monthly newsletter. This is a book and site like The Flylady; you probably won’t use everything you read, but you’ll find enough useful information to make it worthwhile!

Please let me know what you think of my suggestions, and don’t forget to share your own favorite links!