Tuesday, October 28, 2014

“Nobody’s Business” drama by group of young adults brings awareness to dating violence

By Shelly Burke, Editor

A group of young adults in Columbus, NE, is bringing awareness to a sensitive but important topic; dating violence and sexual assault. “Revolution”, a group of about 40 young adults that range in age from freshmen in high school to sophomores in college, writes and presents a drama about dating violence and sexual assault every year, and presents it to various groups throughout the year.

The name of the drama this year is “Nobody’s Business.” It’s about three couples; one with domestic violence, one with sexual assault and one couple with a healthy relationship. Abbie Tessendorf, Revolution Supervisor, started with the Center for Survivors,  which Revolution is associated with, in 2000. While working with youth she realized that she enjoyed prevention work; she became the Revolution Supervisor in 2008. Abbie says, “My favorite part of the presentation is after the dramatization. The audience gets to question the actors, who answer in the character of who they played in the drama. The audience asks why they think and acted as they did during the drama. It’s very powerful.”

The actors then come out of character and provide information about the behavior of the person they played in the drama. The presentation ends with a slideshow and a “call to action” by one of the group members.

All of the Revolution members go through 16 hours of training to learn about dating violence, sexual assault and stalking, and mandatory monthly meetings include more education about those issues. The focus is on recognizing the signs of violence and helping friends who may be experiencing it. Members who act in the drama and presentation receive much more training and rehearse for months before presenting it.

The group typically presents at high schools; there is no charge for the presentations if they are done in The Center for Survivors service area of Platte, Colfax, Butler, Boone, Nance and Polk Counties. If a presentation is requested out of this area the group only asks for travel costs to be covered.  This year “Nobody’s Business” will be also be presented at the “No More” conference in late October and at the Hastings Campus of Central Community College, in November.

Abbie  describes how Revolution has touched lives. “When I first started with the group, I knew it would have a profound effect on the members of the group, but I had no idea how it would touch the lives of those who see it. I think for some, seeing the drama puts a name to something awful that has happened to them, and for others they feel like they see interactions around them differently. I think victims feel some shame lifted and friends feel like they know better how to help. The young people involved with Revolution have a huge passion for others, and they want to make their world a better place.”  

If you would like Revolution to present to your group, please contact Abbie Tessendorf at The Center for Survivors by calling (402) 564-2155, or e-mail her at abbie@centerforsurvivors.net.

See the Ask the Expert column, by Abbie Tessendorf,  on this page for things you can do to protect your kids from teen dating violence.

November Issue

It's hard for me to believe it's November already! Sometimes I'm still amazed that it's 2014! I remember being a little girl and thinking about how I would be "old" when the calendar changed to the year 2000...I'd be over 30 years old!

The November issue of the "Nebraska Family Times" has distributed to sponsors, subscribers and advertisers! I pray that the articles in this issue bless you. Among some of my favorites:
  • What Should Christians Do About Ebola? Hint: Pray first! 
  • I Didn't Sign Up for This, an article that describes our sometimes unrealistic expectations of pastor's wives, along with suggestions as to how we can encourage pastor's wives. 
  • Seven Positive Ways Christians Can Use Social Media
  • Know the Effects of Selfie Trends on Our Kids
  • Thankfulness for Thanksgiving, an article with some great ideas for focusing on what Thanksgiving really means. 
You can read all of these articles and more by picking up a copy of the "Nebraska Family Times" in many locations; click on the "sponsor" tabs at the top of this page. Or call me at (402) 750-3496 or e-mail me at shelly@shellyburke.net with your name and mailing address and I'll send you a free complimentary copy of the paper. 

Do you know someone who would enjoy receiving a Christian publication in their mailbox every month? Perhaps your shut-in grandparents or a newly married couple on a tight budget would appreciate the encouragement of news, devotions and Bible study, all from a Christian point of view. A gift subscription is only $20/year; the "Nebraska Family Times" is published monthly. To subscribe, or give a gift subscription, click on the "Subscribe" button on the right hand side of this page. 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

"Friends and Family" Opportunity

Do you enjoy reading the "Nebraska Family Times"? 

Would you like to share the "inspiration, encouragement and motivation on your Christian walk" that you find in the articles and devotions in the "Nebraska Family Times"?

Consider a "Friends and Family" subscription! For just $10/month you'll receive 10 copies of the "Nebraska Family Times" to share with friends, family, church members, co-workers, or anyone who would enjoy a faith-based publication.

If you are a business owner, a "Friends and Family" subscription is a wonderful way to share your faith with customers. Display the "Nebraska Family Time" in your lobby or waiting area (a small stand will be provided--at no charge!--upon request). People can pick up the paper as a FREE benefit for patronizing your business.

*only $10/month, with FREE shipping
*pay quarterly ($30/3 months), or yearly ($120)
*purchase a yearly "Friends and Family" subscription and receive three additional months FREE!
                    (full payment of $120 must be made at time of order)

To start your "Friends and Family" subscription, send $30 for a quarterly subscription (3 months; you will be billed every 3 months and may discontinue at any time) or $120 for 12 months + 3 months free--a total of 15 months for under $10/month! 

Send payment and your mailing address to: 
Nebraska Family Times, 209 27th St. Apt. #13, Columbus, NE, 68601. 
Payment may also be made via Paypal, to shelly@shellyburke.net. 
If you have questions or need more information, 
contact shelly@shellyburke.net or call (402) 750-3496. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

October Issue!

The October issue of the "Nebraska Family Times" is on the stands of sponsors in Norfolk and Columbus, and will be mailed to subscribers and sponsors outside of the Columbus/Norfolk area, today!

I was blessed to get permission to reprint some great articles in this issue, including:

  • "Why I would Never Force My Kids to Go to Church" (WARNING: this article contains sarcasm!) 
  • "Secret Ingredient"  and a recipe for "Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies" by Columbus, NE author Deb Burma
  • "My Pet Rat and God's Desire for Relationship with Us" by another Nebraska author,
    Janet Schroeder
  • "Hey God, It's Me..." by Nebraska author Tracy Buzynski
  • "Set Your Spending Priorities or Someone Else Will" 
  • Specific articles of interest to Nebraskans, "Parents: Know the New Attendance Laws and be Proactive", "Every Woman Matters Program which provides Women with Breast Exams, Mammograms, and Other Health Check-ups", "Horse Racing Measure Stumbles"and "National Right to Life Endorses Ben Sasse in Nebraska Senate Race"
  • and regular features, "A Retired Preacher's View from the Pew", "Ask the Expert" (this month, expert Lisa Rosendahl answers the question "What Makes Good Art?"), "Wise Words then and Now", and "The Bible Quiz." 
For a FREE sample copy of the October issue, e-mail shelly@shellyburke.net with your address, or call (402) 750-3496. 

Monday, September 1, 2014

The Teacher was Not Silent During My Test

By Shelly Burke, Editor

(Google Images) 
Recently I’ve been seeing this quote on Facebook: “Sometimes you can’t hear God’s voice during your trials. Remember, the teacher is always silent during the test.” The first few times I saw it I nodded and thought, “Oh, that’s nice.” But when I continued to see it, I thought more about it. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it’s most definitely not true, at least not in my life.  

During the last few years I’ve faced the biggest tests in my life when my marriage broke up--through no choice of my own!--and I moved to a new town. Through the tears, the heartbreak, and the decisions, God was there, right with me, every single day, every hour, every minute. Here’s how I felt His presence:
  •  Through His Word, specifically the Psalms. When I couldn’t concentrate enough to read anything else, I could read the Psalms, especially the Psalms of Ascents, Psalms 120-134. Researchers have several theories as to why these Psalms were written, but regardless of who wrote them and why, their words of despair mirrored my own, and the words of hope lifted me up.
  •  Worship. Just being in my church home, hearing the words of the pastors and partaking of the Lord’s Supper, surrounded by fellow believers and friends…the Teacher was not silent. I was especially blessed when I was able to visit my parents and hear my dad preach and take Communion with my whole family. I felt His presence, forgiveness and strength during these times more clearly than I ever have.
  •  My friends. God has blessed me with so many friends, and He spoke to me through their prayers for me and with me, through their words of encouragement and support, hugs, cards, and just listening when I needed to talk.
  • Answered prayers. I cannot count the prayers—some of them very specific--that God has answered during my test. After I moved it was necessary to find a job to support myself.  I prayed for a job or jobs that would be in town (I hate driving in bad weather), not too stressful (I hadn’t worked in nursing for several years and wasn’t up to date on “the latest” of anything), and flexible enough to allow me to continue publishing the Nebraska Family Times. He blessed me with not one but two part-time nursing jobs. And they’re not just “jobs”, but the jobs I’ve enjoyed most during my nursing career. And He answered a prayer I did not even pray—for new friends, Christian friends, at both of these jobs.

How can you hear from the teacher during your test?

God is always present, during every moment, good and bad. He is with you even if your actions were part “The Lord…will be with you; He will never leave you or forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:8) Here is how you can hear from Him.
(Google Images) 
of the cause of the circumstances in which you find yourself. Whether your test involves the death of a loved one, a scary medical diagnosis, family problems, financial issues, a marriage breakup, or anything else, He promises us, just as He, through Moses, promised Joshua and the Israelites as they were about to enter the promised land;

  •     Study His Word. When you study the Bible you will develop a deeper relationship with the Lord. His Word will guide you away from at least some “test” situations (temptations), and it will guide you through tests and trials that are a part of life in this sinful world.
  •     Prayer. When you spend time in prayer you will, again, deepen your relationship with the Lord. When you don’t know what to pray, remember that the Holy Spirit will do so for you; “For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” (Romans 8:26)
  •    Listen for His “still, small voice.” God does not always speak in big, loud ways. He may speak to you through the words and actions of others, or through something seemingly small that brings you great joy. One day when I was missing living in the country, I came across a small, lone sunflower plant in a vacant lot, on my walk. It was unexpected…and showed me evidence of His love, yet again.

            How have you heard from the Teacher during your test? 

This article appears in the September issue of the “Nebraska Family Times.” It is my prayer that it encourages others during hard times; if you know someone who needs encouragement, would you share it with them? Thank you. To subscribe and receive articles “to inspire, encourage and motivate you in your Christian walk” every month in your mailbox,  click the button in the right sidebar.

The New Look--FINALLY!

On Friday we finally picked up the September issue of the "Nebraska Family Times" featuring our "new" look! (Click here to read about the delay; Patience is a Virtue ) We are so happy with how the paper looks!

We pray that this new design will attract more readers and give regular readers more articles that will "inspire, encourage and motivate you in your Christian walk." All subscribers will be receiving an extra copy of the September issue in the mail; we encourage you to share it with someone who would be encouraged by the "Nebraska Family Times." You'll also receive information about our new Friends and Family promotion; for just $10/month you will receive 10 copies of the NFT to share with friends, family members, co-workers, the people in your church congregation or workplace...everyone needs to hear of God's word and His love.

Every "room" has two pages of articles specific to that room.
For example, the theme for the "Sun Room" is "personal time to build your faith" and articles will be for personal devotion time or encouragement. Each "room" also has a theme verse; you can see that the Sun Room verse is "Draw near to Me and I will draw near to you." 

Other rooms are The Front Porch (Editor's Letter and "A Retired Preacher's View from the Pew"), The Kitchen (current events, education, family), The Living Room ("living our faith every day"), The Home Office (financial, organization), The Family Room (articles for and about families), and The Kids Room (articles pertinent to kids and parenting and grandparenting). The back page Bulletin Board will include our Sponsor List and announcements about area Christian events.

Please let us know how you like the new look, and what articles were your favorites, in the comments below or by e-mail at shelly@shellyburke.net.

If you would like a FREE sample issue of the "Nebraska Family Times", e-mail shelly@shellyburke.net with your address, or call (402) 750-3496 with your request. 

Saturday, August 30, 2014

11 Differences Between a College Football Fan and a Church Member

Something to think about on this football Saturday! 
by Thom S. Rainer
(Google Images) 
(Editor's Note: This article appears in the September issue of the "Nebraska Family Times." If you would like to receive a FREE sample issue of the NFT and read more articles to "inspire, encourage and motivate you in your Christian walk," e-mail shelly@shellyburke.net with your mailing address. To subscribe to the NFT click the "subscribe" button in the right sidebar.)
Warning: The article below is a bit of sarcastic humor. I am speaking in hyperbole to make a point. The football fan noted represents a very rabid football fan. The church member represents some, but certainly not all, church members.
Disclosure: I tend to be a rabid college football fan. I see my allegiance as an area of devotion that needs significant adjustments downwardly. So I don’t necessarily practice what I preach. For example, even as I type these words, I am reminded that the kickoff for my team’s first game of the season is exactly five weeks from today.
Caution: While I do write these comparisons with some humor and a lot of hyperbole, you might get just a bit uncomfortable reading them. That may indicate there is some truth in each of them.
  1. A college football fan loves to win. The typical church member never wins someone to Christ.
  2. A college football fan gets excited if a game goes into overtime. A church member gets mad if the pastor preaches one minute past the allocated time.
  3. A college football fan is loyal to his or her team no matter what. A church member stops attending if things are not going well.
  4. A college football fan is easily recognized by his or her sportswear, bumper stickers, and team flags. Many church members cannot even be recognized as Christians by people with whom they associate.
  5. A college football fan pays huge dollars for tickets, travel, and refreshments for games. A
    (Google Images) 
    church member may or may not give to his or her church.
  6. A college football fan reads about his or her football team every day. A church member rarely reads the Bible once in the course of a week.
  7. A college football fan attends the game no matter how bad the weather is. A church member stays home if there is a 20 percent chance of rain.
  8. A college football fan invites others to watch the game every week. A church member rarely invites someone to church.
  9. A college football fan is known for his or her passion for the football team. A church member is rarely known for his or her passion for the gospel.
  10. A college football fan will adjust gladly to changes in kickoff time. A church member gets mad if his or her service time is changed by just a few minutes.
  11. A college football fan is loyal even if he or she never gets to meet the coach. A church member gets mad if the pastor does not visit for every possible occasion.
Yes, I admit I do enjoy college football. But I really love Christ’s churches even more. I need to demonstrate that reality more readily. Do you?
This article was originally published at ThomRainer.com on July 26, 2014. Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam,  Art, and Jess; and seven grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Patience is a Virtue...

As you know, we have been eagerly anticipating the September issue of the "Nebraska Family Times," with a new look and updated graphics! We headed up to Wayne on Tuesday to pick up the paper, excited to see the new look and share it, and, more importantly the Good News of God's love, with our readers.

When we arrived at the Wayne Herald we learned that there had been a major malfunction of some technical part of the complex machinery of the 40+ year old printer they had been using. Their technical term for it was, "it blew up." (To see some photos of the old printing press click here)

But even as we were there, technicians were putting in the NEW printing press! Again, I don't understand the technicalities, so they explained it to me as, "It will be much simpler and everything we print will turn out much better." That's enough information for me! Unfortunately we could not pick up the paper Tuesday, but...I just got a call from the lady at the Wayne Herald, saying the "new and updated" paper will be printed on their "new and updated" press and done by noon tomorrow!

We will deliver papers in Wayne and Norfolk tomorrow, and plan to deliver in Columbus tomorrow and Saturday. Papers will be mailed to subscribers and out-of-town sponsors on Tuesday, so you'll get a look at the "new look" very soon! It will be worth the wait.

"The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, 
patience, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, 
against these there is no law. 
Galatians 5:22-23

Friday, August 22, 2014

Another Sneak Peek! 

Today Jennifer did the paper layout, which I just got done proofreading. I am so excited about "new updated look" of the Nebraska Family Times, I've decided to give you another sneak peek! 

I consider publishing the NFT as a mission as well as something I love to do, and I am so blessed to be able to use the talents God gave me doing something I love! I want everyone to know His love, to feel His peace, and I pray that the NFT will be part of that.  

I try to print articles that give a unique view of some aspect
The front and back page of the NFT; this is how they look when
they're laid out on the computer. Do you like the new title look? 
of Christian living, and I'm excited about several articles this month, including "11 Differences  Between a College Football Fan and a Church Member" and "6 Things Jesus Didn't Die For." My article this month is titled "The Teacher Was Not Silent During My Test," and was inspired by the popular Facebook graphic that says, "If you don't hear from God during hard times, remember the Teacher is always silent during a test." (Obviously, I strongly disagree!) 

Have you been thinking about subscribing to the "Nebraska Family Times"? If you subscribe by next Wednesday, August 27th, you'll receive the September issue FREE--meaning you'll get a total of 13 issues for only $20! Payment must be received by next Wednesday; click "Subscribe" in the right sidebar or send your check or money order to Nebraska Family Times, 209 27th St. Apt. #13, Columbus, NE, 68601. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

A Sneak Peek at the "Nebraska Family Times" new look! 

I am so excited about the "new look" of the "Nebraska Family Times"! Our mission remains, "To inspire, encourage and motivate you in your Christian walk", and my prayer continues to be to publish articles that will touch the hearts of readers through issues that are important in their lives. 

The inside pages of the paper are set up like the rooms in a home. The "rooms" of the NFT
have been updated and have been given a theme verse and "blurb" that represents that room. In each room you'll find articles that I think will apply to your lives.                                                                                               We have also put our Mission Statement and Faith Statement into words; the ideas were always there but now you -- and new readers -- can easily see what the "Nebraska Family Times" is all about.    

Thanks to Tracy Buzynski for her work in finding the updated graphics--I really didn't know how I wanted them to look but when I saw what Tracy had found, I immediately knew it was perfect! And I also thank Jennifer Gleason for all of her work in doing the paper layout since I took over the "Nebraska Family Times" almost five years ago.                                                                             

Here is a sneak peek at the inside front page of the paper...you can see that the Editor's Letter will be on the new Front Porch page and get an idea of the graphics that will appear throughout the paper. 

I'm so excited to see that new look in "real life"! And I look forward to hearing your thoughts about it!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Bible Verses to Start the School Year

By Shelly Burke, Editor

The Bible truly can guide us in any situation in life. In Deuteronomy Moses commands us, concerning God’s commands and instructions, to “Make them known to your children…” (Deut. 4:9b) Talk with your kids about the following verses and how they can apply them at school, no matter what grade they are in.

“Love your neighbor as yourself.”  (Matthew 22:39) Ask, “Who is your neighbor?” Share examples of how kids can love their “neighbor”—teachers, fellow students, administrators, lunch ladies, bus drivers, janitors, and so on. Talk about saying “hello”, being respectful, showing the new student around, sitting with an unpopular student, being a good friend.

“Set guard, Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.” (Psalm 141:3) Discuss how gossip, being rude, and saying hurtful things is not showing God’s love. Role-play changing the subject when someone else is gossiping or talking negatively. Discuss how to react to a teacher who is angry or perhaps treating your child in a way that your child feels is unfair.
“For we all stumble in many ways.” (James 3:2) If one of your kids is a perfectionist, or hard on himself or herself over any mistake, reassure him that no one is perfect (except for God, of course)--the Bible says so! Of course we should always do our best, but “best” doesn’t have to be “perfect.”  
“God is faithful and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”  (1 Corin 10:13b) This is a good verse to talk about when discussing peer pressure and making good decisions. God assures us that there is always a way to get out of the situation. When my sisters and I were teenagers our dad told us, “You have to know what you will do if you find yourself in a situation that involves making a choice—whether you’re with people who are drinking, you’re alone with a boy, or others are cheating on a test.” As age-appropriate, talk with your kids about what they’ll do or say in any of these situations. Many families have a code word or phrase; if they call their parents and say the word or phrase, the parents know to come and pick them up immediately as they aren’t comfortable in the situation.

“Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7) Remind your children that God is with them in any and every situation, at school and everywhere else. If they are nervous about a test, upset because of problems with a friend, dreading a difficult class, sad because they didn’t make the team, embarrassed because they dumped their lunch tray…God is right there with them. He cares for them. Reassure them that they are never, ever alone. They can pray to God wherever they are, whatever they are doing. They don’t need to fold their hands or close their eyes. They don’t need fancy words; they can just share their thoughts with Him. He cares for them…ALWAYS.

What other verses can guide your kids during the school year? How can God’s Word guide you during your life, every day?

To read more by Shelly, go to.Home is Where the Mom Is 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A to Z Blogging (I can't believe it took me this long to complete it) Z!


I knew I was not quite done with the A to Z Blogging Challenge and it’s been on my list to complete it. But when I went to the blog to see where I was I thought:

Seriously, Shelly?

I mean, really???

You go t through the letter “Y” of the “A to Z Blogging Challenge” way back in APRIL, and you just couldn’t get to the letter “Z” until today, almost the end of JULY???

Next time I think I should blog about “procrastination.”

For your reading enjoyment, long, long overdue, the completion of the “A to Z Blogging Challenge.”

Thanks for reading—and ENJOY!


Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.
Romans 12:11

The section in which this verse appears is titled “Marks of the True Christian” and the verses before this verse read, “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly (and sisterly!) affection.  Outdo one another in showing honor.” (Romans 12:9-10).

These are action words: abhor means to despise and be repulsed by. Hold fast implies grabbing tightly. My study notes say being fervent in spirit means boiling over with the Spirit. Outdo one another implies everyone working as hard as they can.

Do you abhor what is evil…or just dislike it a little…or even allow it in your life once in awhile?

Do you hold fast to what is good…or let it flow through your fingers or maybe just hope it lands in your life occasionally?

Do you outdo one another in showing honor to the Lord…or are you glad to let someone else do it, whatever it is?

Are you fervent when doing your work for the Lord…are do you do it half-heartedly?

How can you actively show the “Marks of the True Christian” today?

(I’m also finishing up the blogging the A to Z Challenge at www.achristianmomsguide.blogspot.com.

Check it out!)

Friday, May 9, 2014

A to Z Blogging--{Almost all the way caught up!} Yesterday


Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
Matthew 5:37

In our lives here on earth there is very little we can count on to be the same from day to day. Often our circumstances change dramatically in a very short period of time, with an unexpected death…or the loss of a job…or a devastating betrayal.

Society changes take place almost day-to-day as well. Not so many “yesterdays” ago, it was a given that marriage was between one man and one woman. Life—from conception to death—was sacred. Children were rarely born out of wedlock. Honesty and hard work were something to be proud of, something expected of everyone. Sunday activities included church and Sunday School before anything else.

I am a nurse and in my job at a surgery center—we do mostly eye surgeries—I have seen many changes in the last year—changes in medications, changes in surgery techniques and changes in how different eye problems are treated.

Within the last few weeks I took several classes—ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support) and PALS (Pediatric Advanced Life Support). These classes teach the steps to take and medications to give when an adult or child is critically ill. Many times during the classes we talked about the changes that had been made in diagnosis and treatment over the last few years. 

When your head is spinning due to the changes in your life—be they good or bad—be reassured that one thing will not change—Jesus. His Word remains the Truth. You can always count on His promises –He will always keep them—no matter what. His grace and forgiveness will always be free to us, just for the asking. Thank Him today, for not changing.

(I’m also blogging at www.achristianmomsguide.blogspot.com. Check it out!)

A to Z Blogging...{Almost Caught Up!} X-Tra


And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so. And God saw that it was good…
Genesis 1:11-12, excerpted

I am amazed, at this time of year especially, all that the Lord has blessed us with.

He gave us plants, trees, fruit trees.

But not just one single kind of plant, or tree, or fruit.

He blessed us with many, many kinds of growing things. Just in a walk around my neighborhood I see trees bearing white flowers…pink flowers…bright pink flowers. I see flowers of every shape and color. When I go to the grocery store I have many varieties of fruit from which to choose.

The Lord could have given us just one kind of plant, one kind of flower, one kind of tree,  one kind of fruit.

But He did not.

He gave us an almost countless variety of growing things. And we are so very blessed that God gave us so much x-tra—so much more than we deserve or even need.

Thank You, Lord, for the x-tra you give us in variety. You have blessed us with so much; help us to appreciate Your love for us.

(I’m also blogging the A to Z Challenge at www.achristianmomsguide.blogspot.com. Check it out!)

Thursday, May 8, 2014

A to Z Blogging {Almost Caught Up!} Wait

for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord!
Psalm 27:14

I am not a very good wait-er--I don’t like to wait.

I want all of the answers, right now.

I want to know—now!-- the direction in which I’m to go in life.

I want to know how situations are going to resolve themselves and I don’t want to have to wait to find out.

I am so often tempted to jump right in and act—call someone!! Do something!! Send an e-mail!! Speak my mind!!

Sometimes I react quickly—in anger, in retribution, in fear and depression.

But the above verse reminds me—twice in one verse, to “wait for the Lord.”

And it doesn’t tell me just to wait, it gives me something to do while I wait: “be strong and let your heart take courage.”

I can be strong, by reading the Bible and praying to the Lord to guide and lead me. I find strength in knowing that He is with me every single step of the way, no matter what. And He is stronger than anything, any circumstance, that I will encounter during my life.

I can have courage while I wait because I know the Lord knows what is happening. He knows every detail about every aspect of my circumstances, even when I’m blindsided by something. He is right beside me, every second.

He knows the direction in which He wants me to go. He knows all the details. He knows the bigger story.

And truth be told, I know the bigger story too. I know the end of the story. At the end of the story, no matter what happens to me here—I will spend eternity with Him.

Knowing that enables me to “wait…” with courage in my heart.

(I’m also blogging the A to Z Challenge at Home is Where the Mom Is . Check it out!)

A to Z Blogging Challenge {Still Catching Up!} Vine


I am the vine; you are the branches.
Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.
John 15:5

Apart from Him, I can do nothing.

With Him, I can do anything.

For fruit to grow, it must be attached to the vine which nourishes it. For me to grow, to do His will, I must be attached to Him, or as this verse says, I must abide in Him.


By reading His word. By going to church and Bible study. Through prayer. By listening for His still, small voice (1 Kings 19:12, King James Version) to lead and guide me. By being still, and knowing Him (Psalm 46:10).

Abide in Him, and bear fruit!

How will you abide with the Lord today?

(I’m also blogging the A to Z Challenge at Home is Where the Mom Is . Check it out!)

10th Annual Christian Cross Festival June 7th in Norfolk!

By Shelly Burke, Editor

(This article appears in the May issue of the "Nebraska Family Times." If you would like a FREE sample copy of the "Nebraska Family Times," e-mail shelly@shellyburke.net with your mailing address.)

The Christian Cross Festival, which celebrates its 10th year this year, had humble beginnings. In August of 2001, the (future) founder of the Christian Cross Festival (CCF), Brett Simonsen, arranged for fireworks and Christian music at their church’s block party at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Norfolk. Someone at the event took pictures of the fireworks; when Brett had them developed he was drawn to one in which the fireworks exploding around a cross outside the church looked like Jesus hanging on the cross.  

The inspiration of the picture made Simonsen want to share the event so that others could have a chance to know Christ through Christian music and testimonies from those who had found Christ in their lives. The Outreach team at St. John’s worked to make what became known as the Christian Cross Festival a community event. Today the planning team represents seven denominational as well as non-denominational churches in Norfolk.  The event itself is non-denominational and everyone is invited, whether or not they belong to a church or even know Who God is.

According to Simonsen, over the past 10 years the CCF has grown in size; currently a permanent canopy is being put on the stage at the park. The CCF now also includes a ministry tent at which Christian ministries are highlighted so people can see what they’re all about. Simonsen adds, “Our focus continues true to our belief that we need to reach out to northeast Nebraska and beyond to share God’s message, in a fun and family friendly event where inspiring Christian bands come and share their message through music and testimonies.”

Simonsen says that just thinking of the things that God has done through the CCF humbles him. He has seen many people—addicts, former addicts, dysfunctional families, the homeless, troubled teens (including a 13 year old who had tried many drugs and alcohol)—come to the CCF to “get away”, just meet with friends, or enjoy a nice day at the park, but through the music, speaker, or wandering into the ministry tent, being touched by God and giving their life to Christ.

Simonsen also saw God’s hand a few years ago when a huge storm was bearing down on the festival, making shutting it down early a distinct possibility. He remembers, “We were all nervous watching this huge storm approach on radar, knowing it was way too big to go around us. As we watched on the radar, the storm slowed down and split about 10-15 miles out and put us in a “bubble” that stayed over us as the storm proceeded to pass around us. Lightning was all around and we were ready to call off the festival at any moment. We decided to start the fireworks about 15 minutes earlier than scheduled and the fireworks from the lightning and our fireworks were quite a sight! The “bubble” collapsed and the rain came down, but not until the last car was driving out of the park. The workers were rained on but they didn’t mind—the crowd was spared and everyone was safe!”

The CCF is free of charge; events will run from 1 pm – 11 pm on Saturday, June 7th  at Skyview Lake in Norfolk, NE.  A detailed schedule will appear closer to the time of the CCF; this year Allan Greene (CEO/Founder of Life Light Festival from Sioux Falls, SD) and the Passion Painter from Missouri are scheduled to speak, and bands scheduled to perform include the Peter Furler Band, Big Daddy Weave, Remedy Drive and many more. Other attractions include food, children’s inflatables, face painting, and the Christian ministries tent.

People are invited to come and go as they are able and enjoy the park, the music and the speakers and the day! Bring a lawn chair or blanket if you’d like to relax while you listen to music and spend time with family and friends.

The CCF is committed to never charging an admission fee. If you would like to support the event by being a volunteer, financial sponsor, or donor, contact the CCF (information at the end of this article). 100% of your donation will go directly toward the event.  Freewill offerings are also accepted.

Have you attended the CCF? Do you plan to attend this year? Please help promote the event by telling your friends about it! Invite them to go with you!
The Mission of the CCF: The CCF is an outreach event in an relaxed outdoor setting to promote Christian fellowship and unity in the Body of Christ. Our purpose is to glorify Jesus Christ through Christian music, testimony, and other talents as He provides.
 For more information about the Christian Cross Festival go to www.christiancrossfestival.org. The festival is on Facebook; type in “Christian Cross Festival” or go to www.facebook.com/CCrossFest. You can also contact Brett Simonsen, CCF Director, at maverick4u@cableone.net or (402) 649-2317. 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

A to Z Blogging: Understanding


Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6

Are you trusting in the Lord today, or leaning on your own understanding?

Trusting Him means asking Him before you make decisions, before you take action. Your understanding is limited to what you know, at this moment. He knows absolutely every aspect of your situation, every single detail of your life. He knows what will happen as a consequence of your decisions in a day…a month…a year…a lifetime. He knows how your actions will affect those around you…even those you might not even know. He has a plan that you do not know…but His plan is always better than yours.

Are you acknowledging Him in everything you do, in all your ways?

Thank Him, give Him credit for your life. When you go about your daily life, ask Him to guide you, ask Him to show you what to do, strive to live a life that honors Him.

I see the final part of this verse as a promise. When you acknowledge Him in what you do, He will keep you on the straight path. He will keep you from making mistakes. He will guide you.

With what will you trust in the Lord today?

(I’m also blogging the A to Z Challenge at www.achristianmomsguide.blogspot.com. Check it out!)

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A to Z Blogging Challenge T is for Tribulation


Jesus said, “…in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation.
But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33

What are you troubled about today?

Your financial situation?

A serious diagnosis or illness?

A challenging relationship with someone you love?

A difficult decision that you have to make?

These are all worldly  things, a result of the sin in this world. We will never be free of the trials and tribulation and chaos of this world.

But Jesus has overcome the world and He assures us in the verse above that we can have peace. The peace only He can bring, a peace not of this world but a supernatural, spiritual peace.

Take heart; He has overcome the world, and despite the troubles here on earth, we will spend eternity in perfect peace and joy.

What are you troubled about today? 
Ask the Lord to give you the peace that only He can give.

(I’m also blogging the A to Z Challenge at Home is Where the Mom Is. Check it out!)

Monday, April 28, 2014

A to Z Blogging Challenge -- S is for Small Things

Small Things

“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand.”
Zechariah 4:10

This verse is part of a vision the prophet Zechariah is recounting to the people,  regarding rebuilding the temple in Jerusalem. The temple had been destroyed years before and the people had been in exile. They were now returning to Jerusalem from exile and would rebuild the temple.

The plumb line was a weight, attached to a string. The plumb line was hung down to make sure the walls of the temple were being built straight. The string and weight were very small, but very important; If the walls were not straight, the temple structure would not be stable.

God rejoiced to see the work on the temple begin, and He rejoices when we begin our work, too. The small steps may not seem to be much but they are a foundation to what you will accomplish.

What is one goal you are working on? Losing weight? Exercising regularly? Paying off a credit card? Establishing an emergency fund? Cleaning your whole house? Growing your relationship with the Lord?

What “small thing” can you do today? Ask the Lord to bless and guide you upon your quest, take a deep breath, and begin. Take a walk around the block. Plan healthy meals. Make a credit card payment. Clean a closet. Read a Psalm. The Lord rejoices to see the work begin!

What “small beginning” are you going to make today?

I’m also blogging at Home is Where the Mom Is . Click to check it out!

A to Z Blogging Challenge -- R is for Refuge


“But for me it is good to be near God;
I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of Your works.”
Psalm 73:28

God has been my refuge in the midst of the most difficult time in my life, during the summer of 2012 when my marriage was breaking up and I was starting over. It was more than good to be near Him; it was the greatest blessing I could have at that time.  I knew that He understood, that He had a plan for me, that He would never, ever leave me. When I could not concentrate to read or comprehend anything else in His Word, I could read the Psalms, including Psalm 73.

Have you made God your refuge today? Was He your first choice, or did you only turn to Him after texting your best friend or calling your sister or posting on FaceBook? Turn to Him first; as wonderful as your friends and family are, He offers even more comfort.

What works of His will you tell others of, to strengthen their faith?

I will share this and I hope it encourages readers. I needed a job after I moved out, and asked God for a job that met the following guidelines; in the town in which I was living (I hate driving in bad weather), relatively non-stressful (I had enough stress in my “real” life!), decent paying, and part-time so that I could continue publishing the Nebraska Family Times and writing if that was His will.

Several weeks later I read a want-ad and when I called the number I found that it fit every single one of my requests. After a few months I realized that it was a little too “part time” for me to meet my expenses…and then I found out about another part-time job that, as well as fitting the above requirements, would also fit perfectly into my life. The two jobs are the best jobs I’ve had in my nursing career!

But it gets even better...

A few months ago, I realized that God gave me something in both jobs that I hadn’t even thought to ask for: Christian friends who offered me the support and encouragement I needed during that very hard time. He knew what I needed and blessed me with it, even though I didn’t think to ask.

God truly is my refuge; it is so good to be near Him!

What works has God done in your life, that you can share to encourage others?
 If you’d like, comment below.

(I’m also blogging the A to Z Challenge at Home is Where the Mom Is. Check it out!)

Friday, April 25, 2014

{{Still Catching up on the A to Z Challenge}} Q is for Quarrel


The beginning of strife is like letting out water,
so quit before the quarrel breaks out.
Proverbs 17:14

Have you been in a quarrel with someone…but you can’t remember how it began? A cross (or perceived to be cross) word can start a back-and-forth that just escalates—and suddenly you’re in an argument—maybe not even knowing what it is really about. It’s happened to me and usually I feel silly that something pretty minor escalated (especially when it was with one of my kids…when they were toddlers).

The verse above tells us to “quit before the quarrel breaks out.”

It’s not easy—we all want to prove ourselves “right.” But oftentimes not arguing at all feels even better than proving a point—and it takes less time, too.

I’ve made a point to try to diffuse conflict before it starts (I’m not always successful…it’s my own fault!).

Sometimes it means saying something completely off topic; my favorite is “How ‘bout them Huskers?” (That is especially mood-changing when I say it because those who know me know that I have no idea if the current season is football, volleyball, or basketball…and I have no idea if players in said sports are trying to hit a ball, throw a ball, kick a ball…).  

Sometimes it means we agree to disagree…and one of us has to agree not to insist on having the last word in the agreeing-to-disagree.

Sometimes it means nodding respectfully and not saying another word (I think I have scars on my tongue from doing that…but I didn’t argue!)

Sometimes it means saying nothing…but having that pit-in-the-stomach feeling of “He was soooo wrong…”

All this is to say, it’s not easy to avoid an argument (especially when you *know* you are right). But God wouldn’t have given us this instruction if it wasn’t important to Him.

Maybe He commanded us not to quarrel because so many of our arguments are so minor…but cause so much stress, tension and chaos—stress, tension and chaos that takes our attention away from the Him and doing His work.

Maybe it’s because quarrels can hurt—sometimes really hurt—all involved.

Maybe it’s because quarrels just do not show His love—the love He wants us to show to everyone.

Maybe it’s because quarreling is a bad example to kids and to non-Christians, you know, the whole setting-a-good-example thing.

It’s not easy, but it is His command. And the Bible tells us that Jesus experienced temptation, too—but He did not sin. (Hebrews 4:15). The next verse says, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and grace to help in time of need.”

So there is my solution for you—when you are tempted to quarrel, draw near to the Lord. Pray that He will guard your tongue…will give you something funny to say…will help you control your words…or even put His hand over your mouth to prevent those words from coming out (even if they would convince the other person that you are right).

Do you get caught up in a quarrel before you realize it?
What will you do today, to stop it before it starts?

I’m also blogging at Home is Where the Mom Is

“If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”
Romans 12:18

It is possible to live peaceably with most people; if your personalities clash, you either avoid the person or are distantly polite.

However, there are people with whom it is not possible to live peaceably.

Perhaps when you give an inch they take 10,000 miles.

Maybe they are offended by everything you say, and let you know it.

Or have hurt you so badly in the past (or continue to hurt you) you just cannot face them.

Or their values directly oppose yours—and they enjoy trying to force them on you.

What to do? 
  • Avoid the person if possible.
  • Pray that the Lord will give you patience and grace if you have to face the person, and that if words are necessary, the Holy Spirit will give you the right ones. And (this is really difficult!) pray for the person. The only thing I could pray for one person who used to be in my life was, “Please Lord give her Your peace.”
  • Remember the words that follow the above verse: “Never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord. To the contrary, if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:19-20. 
  • Hard as it is (I know, I’ve been in the situation!) be kind if you have to have contact, and let the Lord handle the rest. He knows what has happened; He knows what the best solution is. It might not be your solution; pray for His peace with whatever happens.

Who in your life is impossible to live with peaceably? What will you do next time you see that person? Pray for the Lord’s guidance, and that you will show His love, despite the circumstances.

I’m also blogging the A to Z Challenge at Home is Where the Mom Is