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GRATEFUL BEFORE ITS GONE

By Sarah Langness

I don’t know what it means, by actual definition, to “throw your back out”. But I may have done that last Thursday afternoon. If it wasn’t “thrown out”, my lower back was definitely stretched and strained to the point of extreme pain in a way I hope to never endure again. The problem is, sometimes I forgot that I’m a) pregnant and therefore my body is already stretching and pulling in all sorts of different directions; and b) that even if I wasn’t pregnant, it’s never a good idea to hold a 24-pound weight on one side of your body while leaning down in the opposite direction to lift a nearly 10-pound purse. The result? I walked around with an ice pack stuck in my pants and could barely stand up straight due to the pain in my lower back.

I never really realized how vital the use of my back is to every day, ordinary actions. Like rolling over in bed. Like being able to sit on the floor and change my son’s diaper. Like putting on a pair of pants.

After last week’s incident, I realized how often I forget to be grateful.

And so often, I think we all forget. We get so used to what we have, with the people that we are blessed with in our lives, that we begin to take it all for granted. It seems like, more often than not, we become grateful for something only after it’s gone.

As you celebrate Thanksgiving this week, I encourage you not to forget. To not just take a moment to thank the Lord for the “big” things, the “obvious” things, the “generalized” things. But take a moment to consider the little ones, the less-noticed blessings. For the fact that the furnace is working. For being able to roll over in bed without pain. For the blessing of hearing laughter. For fridges to store that abundance of leftovers in. For the inventor of disposable diapers. For soft toilet paper. For electric mattress pads.

And whatever you do, don’t just be thankful on Thursday. On Friday, as you brave the Black Friday crowds or pull out your Christmas tree or simply enjoy the presence of family, remember to thank Him. Because all good things, all blessings, come from Him. And we have so many reasons to be thankful.

“Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, for His lovingkindness is everlasting. Give thanks to the God of gods, for His lovingkindness is everlasting. Give thanks to the Lord of lords, for His lovingkindness is everlasting.” – Psalm 136:1-3, NASB

 

 

What Do You Really, Really Want?

By Velma Amundson

I’ve walked through the malls starting in October, and all the Christmas stuff is out. They’re all nicely displayed and designed to make you want things. The stores are saying they’re not even waiting for “Black Friday” to start holiday sales. The commercials on TV are designed to appeal to our vanities, and get us to want what they have. I even term those “infomercials” for things like Genie Bras, etc as “gotta have it” commercials. I’ll confess I’ve already begun to go Christmas Shopping. It’s so easy to get caught up in what we want. I could want a new computer, a tablet, a new sewing machine, new clothes, etc. And there is nothing wrong with wanting things…..except.

Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness…” We need to put things in order. The Bible tells us the most important thing is to seek God. We need to seek His will, follow him, store up “treasure in Heaven”. We do that, not by seeking the “treasures” of this world, the material things that pass away, but by sharing the Good News of Christ’s resurrection and gift of salvation. We do that by putting others before ourselves and seeking their good. We study the Bible and bury its treasures in our hearts so that no matter what we go through, we can lean upon God to get us through.

After reflecting on these things, I’ve decided what I really, really want. I want, when I stand before Christ on his judgment throne, to hear the words of Matthew 25:21, “Well done, good and faithful servant…” I hope you want that too.

“A Light in Dark Places”

By Esther Hylden

    The sky was cold, the air chilly and the spirits of the fish workers in Naknek, Alaska were downcast that summer of 2013.  People from far corners of the world, (Libya, Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sweden, China and many more,) had come to work in the fishing industry to earn much needed income, and now the fishing was poor.  With time on their hands, the workers filled the little town of Naknek.  The bars were filled to overflowing; fights often broke out as tempers ran high.

    In the middle of Main Street however, there sat a haven, an oasis…so to speak, known as The Net.  Nothing fancy, grey, three rooms…a small kitchen, storage room and gathering room, The Net was a place to go when one was cold, lonely and hungry…inside was a fresh pot of coffee, cookies, a listening ear and words of encouragement given to those who entered.  Quilts were given to those who were cold, fresh warm cookies were given to the hungry, and God’s Word was shared with many lonely and discouraged people.  Bibles and tracts were given away, and when people left that humble building, their hearts, body and stomachs were warmed.

  James 2:14 states:  “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds?  Can such a faith save him?  Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food.  If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?  In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, Is dead.”   

Fall marks the beginning of the “dark” season in Alaska.  The days are short, and spirits often sag, as one grey, rainy, gloomy day follows another.  However, shining out amongst the gloom there is “Light!”  Daily the KAKN Radio Station shares God’s Word with all who tune in, with Pastor Bob Lee serving as the Station Manager.  Pastor Jeff Swanson and Pastor Jeremy Crowell bring God’s “Light” to the two Naknek congregations and to the remote areas of Alaska, as they minister in Word and deed, often handing out quilts to those who gather at the little churches and meeting places.  Smiles stretch from ear to ear, as bodies and spirits are warmed by a handmade quilt and words of hope from God’s Word.

How can you help?

  1. Pray, Pray, Pray!
  2. Send financial support
  3. Send Quilts ( they used up their supply last summer)
    Send quilts to:  Pastor Jeff Swanson
    PO Box 501
    Naknek, AK 99663
  4. Come and help!   ( If God is calling you to come and help, contact the Home Mission Board )

“I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.”  Acts 13:47

I pray that God will use us to bring “Light” to Naknek, to  the family next door, to work, to the checker at the grocery store…and to all those who remain in the dark.

HERE’S WHAT COOKING

Submitted by Ruth Ratio

 

Bacon-Wrapped Chicken Bites

Ingredients:
3 Tbsp.  GREY POUPON Savory Honey Mustard, divided
2 Tbsp.  Worcestershire sauce
1 boneless skinless chicken breast (6 oz.), cut into 24 pieces
8 slices OSCAR MAYER Bacon, cut into thirds
4 oz.  CRACKER BARREL Vermont Sharp-White Cheddar Cheese, cut into 12 slices
24 RITZ Crackers
2tsp.  chopped fresh parsley

Directions:

  1. MIX 2 Tbsp. mustard and Worcestershire sauce. Add to chicken; toss to coat. Refrigerate 30 min. Drain chicken; discard marinade.
  2. HEAT broiler. Wrap bacon around chicken; secure with toothpicks. Broil, 4 inches from heat, 10 min. or until bacon is crisp and chicken is done, turning after 5 min.
  3. HEAT oven to 350ºF. Remove toothpicks. Cut cheese slices in half. Place crackers on baking sheet; top with cheese. Bake 4 to 5 min. or until melted. Top with chicken and remaining ingredients.

HERE’S WHAT COOKING

Submitted by Ruth Ratio

Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cakes

Ingredients

Cake:
1 (18 1/4-ounce) package yellow cake mix
1 egg
8 tablespoons butter, melted

Filling:
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese,  softened
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
8 tablespoons butter, melted
1 (16-ounce) box powdered sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Combine the cake mix, egg, and butter and mix well with an electric mixer. Pat the mixture into the bottom of a lightly greased 13 by 9-inch baking pan.
  3. To make the filling: In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and pumpkin until smooth. Add the eggs, vanilla, and butter, and beat together. Next, add the powdered sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and mix well. Spread pumpkin mixture over cake batter and bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Make sure not to over bake as the center should be a little gooey.

Serve with fresh whipped cream.

LIVING IN THE MUNDANE

by Sarah Langness

My days are fairly predictable. I can roughly tell you what time Zeke and I will be out for our morning walk and down for our afternoon nap. I usually do my grocery shopping on Mondays after lunch. I can tell you what days I typically do laundry. Day-to-day, my life tends to look extremely similar. Sure, there are days with a few surprises, like when my husband decides to be spontaneous and come home from work early. Or like last week when Zeke pooped out his diaper for the first time in months and I had to rinse his pants off in the toilet. Or when I’m able to grab coffee with a dear friend back for a short visit.

Yesterday, though, I broke the mold. I skipped my morning walk, left the men at home and headed to Bismarck to run a few errands. (I know, I know: real exciting. But hey, I live in western North Dakota; cut me some slack.) As I was driving across the familiar 79-mile stretch of farmland, I did something I rarely do: I listened to the radio. Family Life Today was on, and my apologies to the name of their guest whose name is lost on my mind somewhere on I-94. And actually, apologies to Family Life Today as I hardly even recall what the broadcast topic was about. Something about loving your spouse. I forget because of something that forgotten guest said that rang over and over and over in my mind:

“We only make three or four big decisions in life. But we live in the every day, in the mundane.”

It’s so easy to seek Christ in the big decisions, the big issues. Where we should go to college. Who (or if) we should get married. To take that job far from family or stay closer to home.

But what about the every day? The ordinary, mundane things? Jesus doesn’t want just a part of the “big” things in life – He wants the little ones too.

Not that I need to pray about switching my laundry day. Or that there is anything wrong with a fairly predictable routine. But in those every day, mundane, day-to-day tasks, who am I living for? Am I living selfishly, putting my desires over those of my families? Do I have eyes of compassion for the hurting around me, or am I to focused on me to notice them? Am I content with what I have, with who the Lord has made me to be, or am I envious of that other mom who seems to have it made?

“For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spiritlet us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.” – Galatians 5:13, 24-26, NASB (emphasis mine)

It is in the mundane moments that I choose to put Jordan’s needs over my own. It is the every day moments that become Kingdom teaching moments for little Ezekiel. It is in the ordinary moments that I live for the Extraordinary One.

“For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.” – 2 Corinthians 5:14-15, NASB (emphasis mine)

No matter how ordinary, how everyday, how mundane our daily tasks may seem to be, may we ever be guilty of living for Jesus.