Surviving the Storm

by Judy Ness

My husband and I enjoy sailing as a leisure activity. He grew up learning to sail, but for me it was much later in life when I fell in love with the sea. We have been blessed to sail the beautiful blue waters of the Caribbean on several occasions.

On a trip this past year, we enjoyed sunny skies, balmy breezes, and gentle seas. But then, the weather changed abruptly. Although we were not in any real danger, gusts of wind heeled the sailboat over uncomfortably. The wind seemed to shift without warning, and the sea swells came from every direction. Although there is no proof, a panicked first mate MAY have pleaded with the captain of the boat to “DO SOMETHING!”

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Gardening Tips for Playing in the Dirt

by Sarah Stensland

The past few weeks and months have brought a lot of changes, and even fear, to our lives. Our idea of “normal life” has been drastically changed. Rather than living in a life of fear, I suggest we spend our time planning and producing. As I have been limited in my trips to the grocery store, I’ve been comforted by the thought that soon my garden will be up and running, and I’ll readily be able to shop for vegetables in my own grocery store in my yard—my garden.

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Alone in the Wilderness

by Connie Clay

I sometimes enjoy watching television after supper. It feels good to relax after a day of work. Tonight, my husband, Dennis, and I were weary of the news—all of the fear and all of the distress in our world, caused by a virus we can’t even see. So, I suggested we watch one of our favorite DVDs, called Alone in the Wilderness. It is the rough captured video of a man in his fifties, who left the Midwest to live by himself in Alaska. It seems he needed a change. He lands by plane in the wilderness with some gear and treks over to a mountain cabin owned by a friend, where he will remain until he can get his own cabin built.

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A Song on Our Lips

by Jamie Bonnema

I won’t be afraid anymore of the terrors by night
Or the arrow that flies by day
And though a thousand may fall at my side
And though ten thousand may fall
In Him I’ll put all my trust
–Lincoln Brewster

I woke up this morning, took a shower, and put on my favorite cozy flannel shirt and jeans. I stepped outside to feed my furry babies—something I always look forward to. Everything had been kissed by rain last night, and I was reminded that summer will soon be on its way to us. I headed to the kitchen with chocolate chip pumpkin muffins on my mind, intending to get them done before the kids awoke. I was greeted in the kitchen with a hug from my husband, and we chatted about our plans for the day.

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Dear Parents: A love letter from your child’s teacher…

Dear Parents,

February is the month of hearts and flowers and Valentine’s Day, so I am sending you this love letter. It is not as much about you, as it is about someone we both love dearly—your child.

As parents, you are the primary teacher and guardian of your child, and I know you loved your child first. But I get to spend a large part of each day with your precious child, and even though I didn’t plan for it, I fell in love—with your child, and all the other children I am privileged to teach.

We both want the same thing for your child—that he or she can be holy, healthy, and happy—in that order. I want your child to learn about science and math and great literature and music, and I want your child to develop good character and healthy relationships. However, nothing matters as much in the span of eternity as having your child develop a personal relationship with Jesus.

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Embracing the “Extra”

by Shanna Meyer

When asked to describe what it’s like being the parent to a child with special needs, my first feeling is that of instant gratitude—gratitude that I am blessed to be the mom to such an amazing little soul. Every child is a gift from God. The only thing different about the life of a child with special needs is that it comes with a little (sometimes a lot) of “extra.” At times that extra can be scary for the entire family, but just like anything new in life, you learn to adapt. And even though it might not be what you expected, if you embrace that extra you will realize just how lucky you are. And for everyone who is blessed to know and be a part of that special needs child’s life, they will also get to experience the wonders that a little extra has to offer.

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Online Use Inventory

by Jamie Bonnema

Isn’t it mind boggling to think about how many of our daily tasks have turned into online experiences? We no longer have to leave our vehicles or houses to shop. A library is not required for research—it is only a reach away with the touch of our phones. News is available in real-time online instead of in the newspaper a day later. Pen and paper has been replaced with online documents and an online notepad. Phone calls have given way to social media messaging, conversations have turned into likes and emojis, and memes have replaced how we convey our opinions. Instant gratification, as well as instant disappointment, is readily available around every online corner.

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Social Media Buffet

by Jamie Bonnema

The social media experience has some running away, many addicted, and others trying to set good boundaries for its use. In trying figure out guidelines for myself, my trips to buffets with family when I was young came to mind. Everything looked so good when I walked in. The choices seemed to be unlimited. I always loaded up my plate, went back for more, topped it off with too much dessert, and finished the meal hanging over my chair, sick with regret. As a wiser adult, I can now go to a buffet, have a great time, and walk away feeling good and nourished.

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Thoughtfully Entering the New Year

by Jamie Bonnema

On a snowy day, I sit at the computer to write. The kids are quietly playing after a morning of sleeping in. The brightness from the snow defeats the overcast sky, and I feel perfectly cozy in my sweats on the couch. In these moments I can do some quiet thinking, continual praying, and flush out a few ideas roaming in my head. I’m very thankful God gives us moments like this to just sit still and catch our breath.

I had a visit with family over the break. A question caught me a bit off-guard as I forgot a new year, even a new decade, was sneaking up on me. I was just enjoying the Christmas season, making it through each event without a catastrophe, and aiming for a joyful spirit despite some challenges. But there the question was, and I had not yet solidified my answer.

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