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Archive | January, 2012

Richard M. Reed

In loving memory
Richard M. Reed
October 9, 1933-January 4, 2004

Not how did he die, but how did he live?
Not what did he gain, but what did he give?
These are the units to measure the worth
Of a man as a man, regardless of birth.
Not, what was his church, nor what was his creed?
But had he befriended those really in need?
Was he ever ready, with word of good cheer,
To bring back a smile, to banish a tear?
Not what did the sketch in the newspaper say,
But how many were sorry when he passed away?

It’s been eight years, but we still miss you and think of you everyday.
Love, your family

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Some reassembly required

By Ronnie McBrayer

Many people begin their walk of faith, and everything goes as they expected. Out of genuine conviction, they attend church, learn from the Scriptures, volunteer, serve, give, and become “productive, committed, faithful, Christians.” But somewhere along the way things go terribly wrong.
The orderly, stalwart faith that used to “work” for these true believers becomes a muddled mess. Yes, they once taught Sunday school, sang in the choir, chaperoned the youth group, chaired the Stewardship Committee, and had bullet-proof answers to all questions of faith. But then, all at once or over an extension of time, their faith splintered into a million tiny pieces. A divorce. A child falls deathly ill and heaven seems silent as a stone. An accident leaves the once healthy college student broken and mutilated. The circumstances come in variegated form, but the impact is the same.
It is more than a crisis of faith, more than theological bump in the road; it is an unraveling that robs people of their confidence and comfort. The once unshakable believer descends downward into the blackness of doubt. Adding insult to injury, sometimes the only thing the church or we ministerial types can say in those moments is, “Pray more. Just believe. Let go and let God. Try harder.” Not only is this insensitive, asinine advice, it simply won’t work. Those who have hit this kind of barricade feel so dismantled, that to keep doing what they were doing—only with more enthusiasm—is impossible.
Here is your choice: You can harden your heart and sweep the shards of your faith into the dustpan, giving up on God completely; or you can pick up the broken pieces, with bloody hands and heart, and reassemble faith on the other side of doubt. No, it won’t be the same faith you once had; it will be dramatically different. It won’t be an improved or updated version of the beliefs you formerly held; it will be a new construction altogether. This reassembled faith will not provide you with all the answers to all your questions; instead, it will help you to see the world, God, and people differently.
So if you find yourself crushed against what feels like the concrete and steel of disbelief, with not a drop of faith left, I understand. Don’t throw it all away just yet. In the breaking, you might find that faith has a new beginning.
Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, speaker, and author. His books include “Leaving Religion, Following Jesus” and “The Jesus Tribe.” Visit his website at www.ronniemcbrayer.net.

Posted in Keeping the FaithComments Off

Main Street

by Roger Allen

Good news
• Employment is up.
• Car buying is up.  So are retail sales.
• This recession (or depression), although deeper and more painful, is similar to many business cycles we have experienced. We’ll be out of this one soon.
• More people have become aware that we must have cleaner air and water. The same is true of global warming: it’s real. Most of the world is trying to deal with the reality because it’s our only planet.
• Only 10 months to go and the election will be over!
True Progress
Dave turns to his friend Kevin and asks for a cigarette.
“I thought you made a New Year’s resolution to quit smoking,” says Kevin.
“I’m in the process of quitting,” says Dave. “Right now I’m in the middle of phase one.”
“Phase one?” says Kevin.
“Yeah,” replies Dave, “I’ve quit buying.”
True Solutions
Three Pastors in the South were having lunch in a diner. One said, “Since summer started, I’ve been having trouble with bats in the church loft. I’ve tried everything—noise, spray, cats—nothing seems to scare them away.”
Another said, “Me, too. Hundreds are living in my belfry and the attic. I’ve even had the place fumigated and they won’t go away.”
The third said, “I baptized all mine and made them members of the church. Haven’t seen one back since.”
True Romance
A husband and wife in their early 60s were celebrating their 35th wedding anniversary in a romantic little restaurant. Suddenly a tiny, beautiful fairy appeared on their table and announced, “For being such an exemplary married couple, I will grant each of you a wish.”
“Ooh, I want to travel around the world with my darling husband,” said the wife. The fairy moved her magic wand, and two tickets for a deluxe cruise on a luxury liner appeared in her hand.
The husband thought for a moment and said, “Well, this is all very romantic. But an opportunity like this occurs once in a lifetime, so, I’m sorry, my love, but my wish is to have a wife thirty years younger than me.”
The wife and the fairy were both deeply disappointed, but a wish is a wish. So once again the fairy moved her magic wand and the husband became 92 years old.
Moral: Men might be ungrateful idiots, but fairies are women.
True life
A business owner tells her friend that she is desperately searching for an accountant. Her friend asks, “Didn’t your company hire an accountant a year or so ago?” The business owner replies, “That’s the accountant I’ve been searching for.”
True last words
God grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked anyway. And the good fortune to run into the ones that I do. And the eyesight to tell the difference.

Posted in Roger on Main St.Comments (2)

A more rounded way to gauge Congress

By Lee H. Hamilton

I suspect that most members of Congress will want to forget the year that just ended.
The institution that symbolizes our democracy finished 2011 plumbing depths of unpopularity it has never experienced before. The poor jobs picture, the lurching from one brink-of-disaster deadline to the next, the polarization that keeps the parties from working together, the widespread sense that Congress is so dysfunctional it cannot meet the nation’s challenges—all played a role.
These are valid ways of judging Congress, but they are not the only way. Every year, the Center on Congress at Indiana University polls a group of congressional scholars on how they think the institution is doing, and one of the challenges we face is devising a set of questions that meaningfully probe Congress’s performance. It’s not as easy as you’d think. You have to look deeply at how Congress is operating in order to get a well-rounded picture.
The first of Congress’s responsibilities is to protect its constitutional role as a strong, coequal branch of government. It must stand apart from and serve as a check upon the excesses of presidential power. So how well does it oversee the executive branch, and is it generating meaningful, politically sustainable policy alternatives, or just sitting back and letting the White House take all the political risks?
Its second great role is to represent the American people. This means making sure that all voices get a fair hearing and that diverse viewpoints play a part in crafting initiatives—all while safeguarding institutional practices that allow legislation to move forward in a timely manner.
Third, in a country as politically and demographically varied as ours, sound process, negotiation and compromise are key to crafting legislation that can enjoy broad political support. Are its leaders capable of working hard to forge a consensus? If they can’t, do conflicts over legislation represent substantive differences, or mere political game-playing? Does it balance careful deliberation with making decisions? Does it protect the rights of the minority and allow all points to be heard?
Fourth, does Congress set sufficiently high standards for its individual members? Do they keep partisanship in check and behave ethically?
And finally, do they maintain strong connections to their constituents back home? Do they make themselves accessible in a variety of settings, listen well, and speak out for their communities and constituents at times of need?
All of these questions add up to how well Congress represents the interests of the American people, and as always, it does better on some than on others. Despite its obvious troubles, the picture is not entirely bleak. And I can’t help but believe that the more well-rounded our understanding of where Congress falls short and where it performs well, the better we can hold it to account.
Lee Hamilton is Director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years.

Posted in Voices and ViewsComments Off

Devastation of arson poster contest

For grades 7-12

To draw attention to the devastating crime of arson, the Michigan Arson Prevention Committee (MAPC) and the Michigan Chapter of the International Association of Arson Investigators (IIAM) are sponsoring an Arson Awareness Poster Contest, open to students in grades 7th through 12th.  The deadline to enter is March 15, 2012.
The contest, open to students enrolled in grades 7 through 12, is a joint effort by the two anti-arson groups to increase the public’s awareness about the devastating effects of arson in Michigan. Posters are judged on their illustration of the negative aspect of arson such as: fire deaths, injuries, job losses, community decay and moral destruction.
Prizes will be awarded for the following categories: Middle School (Grades 7-8) Hand Drawing; High School (Grades 9-12) Hand Drawing; and Computer-Generated Artwork (Grades 7-12). In each category, the first place winner will receive $250; second place will be awarded $150; and third place will receive $100. Each winner’s school will receive a matching cash award.
Posters must be approximately 15” by 20” and submitted on quality poster or illustration board.   The work must be original and may be in any media with the exception of pencil, chalk, charcoal or glitter.  For detailed rules, visit www.miarsonprevention.org.
Entries must be postmarked no later than midnight on March 15, 2012. To enter, send posters wrapped flat to Insurance Institute of Michigan, 334 Townsend, Lansing, MI 48933. For further information, visit www.miarsonprevention.org.

Posted in Arts & EntertainmentComments Off

Grand Rapids Symphony presents “Little Red Riding Hood”

Featuring Grand Rapids Ballet Company Dancers, January 21

The eyes of little ones will widen with wonder when the Grand Rapids Symphony presents the interactive, musical tale of “Little Red Riding Hood.” Two performances will be presented on Jan. 21 at 10:15 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. at Sunshine Community Church.
Professional dancers from the Grand Rapids Ballet Company and narrator Edye Evans Hyde will help tell the story of Little Red Riding Hood’s trip through the forest, where she is rescued from the wolf by her fairy tale friends. The 45-minute program communicates lessons, including the importance of listening to one’s parents and being wary of strangers, as well as the triumph of good over evil.
“There are some humorous moments and updates to this story, such as a call Little Red Riding Hood makes to her mother on a cell phone,” says Associate Conductor John Varineau.
The ballet includes fun dances like a polka, waltz and Russian Cossack dance.
“We are thrilled to be working the Symphony again to present this classic tale in a fun production perfect for all ages,” shares Grand Rapids Ballet Company Artistic Director Patrici Barker.
To help children identify the different instrument families of the orchestra, Symphony musicians will wear colored t-shirts to show whether they belong to the string, woodwind, brass or percussion family. These colors help children understand the various sections of the orchestra.
Complimentary lollipops are also available for the children as they leave the performance.
General admission tickets are $5 and are available at the Symphony office, weekdays 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., 300 Ottawa NW, Suite 100, (located across from the Calder), or by calling 616-454-9451, Ext. 4. (Phone orders will be charged a $2 per ticket service fee, with a $12 maximum.) Tickets may also be purchased through Ticketmaster, 800-982-2787, online at www.grsymphony.org, or in person at Ticketmaster outlets: select D&W Fresh Market and Family Fare stores and Walmart. Tickets purchased at these locations will include a Ticketmaster service fee. Tickets may also be purchased at the door the day of the concert.

Posted in Arts & EntertainmentComments (1)

Salute to Senior Service

Search on for State’s outstanding senior volunteers

The Home Instead Senior Care® office serving seniors in Grand Rapids  has announced the Salute to Senior ServiceSM program to honor senior volunteers for the tireless contributions they make to their local communities.
The program will include a search for the most outstanding senior volunteer in each state and culminate with the selection of a national Salute to Senior Service winner during Older Americans Month in May.
Nominees must be 65 years of age or older and volunteer at least 15 hours a month. Nominations will be accepted at www.SalutetoSeniorService.com through March 15, 2012. Nomination forms also can be requested at ckoehler@homeinsteadinc.com.
State Senior HeroSM winners will receive plaques, and their stories will be posted on the SalutetoSeniorService.com website. In addition, $5,000 will be donated to the national winner’s nonprofit charity of choice.
According to research conducted by the Home Instead Senior Care® network, 52 percent of seniors volunteer their time through unpaid community service. Nearly 20 percent (one in five) of seniors surveyed started volunteering when they reached the traditional age of retirement – 65 or older. Furthermore, 20 percent of seniors who volunteer say that their community service is the most important thing they do.
“Helping others defines life for many local retired seniors,” said Javier Vasquez, owner of the Home Instead Senior Care office in Grand Rapids. “And what a difference we have observed in seniors’ health, attitude and outlook among those who choose to stay active as they age.”
Dr. Erwin Tan, director of the Senior Corps, a national organization that links more than 400,000 Americans 55 and older to service opportunities, agrees. “The one thing that I hear constantly from the seniors in our programs is that volunteering gives them a purpose in life – they say that it’s the reason they get up in the morning.
“In addition, it’s a great way for them to learn new things – whether a skill or just something about an issue in which they have an interest,” Tan said. “Volunteering is just a great way to expand their horizons and feel like they’re still a valuable part of their community.”
For more information about the Salute to Senior Service program or Home Instead Senior Care, please call 616-988-7878.

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This week’s happenings…

Snowshoe Trails Open and Rentals Available
Jan. 19: (When conditions permit) Seven days a week, 9:30 am – 4 pm. Please call ahead to check on snow conditions and availability of rentals during the week. Families with young children: try out our smaller shoes for age four and older, or bring a sled to pull your toddlers. There is no guide. Snowshoe rental: $3.75/ adults, $3/ students & seniors. Trail use: no charge. Howard Christensen Nature Center, 16190 Red Pine Dr. Kent City. If interested simply email cperski@lilysfrogpad.com.  #3

Lions Club Pancake Breakfast
Jan 21:     The Cedar Springs Lions Club is hosting a pancake breakfast every third Saturday of each month January thru April. Come to the Cedar Springs United Methodist Church located on the corner of Main & Church Streets on Saturday Jan. 21 from 7 am to 11 am, for an all-you-can-eat breakfast including pancakes, eggs, bacon, sausage, juice and coffee. Adults $6.00, Seniors $5.00, Children under 12 free. Proceeds to assist sight conservation.  #3

Winter Family Fun Day
Jan. 22: Ignore those folks who complain about winter. Here is your chance to come out and play in the snow with us. The wee-folks slide will be laid out for wee ones, take a short snowshoe walk with your family, snowman building contest, brisk walk of the trails, and join in other fun snow-filled games in our open prairie, then warm up with a bowl of chili and s’mores by our new campfire pit (near N entrance). Sunday, Jan. 22 from 12 noon to 4 pm. Cost is $6/ person or $15 for family (four or more). Howard Christensen Nature Center, 16190 Red Pine Dr. Kent City. If interested simply email cperski@lilysfrogpad.com.  #3

TOPS weight loss support group
Jan. 24: Take off pounds sensibly (TOPS), a non-profit weight loss sport group for men and women, meets every Tuesday at the Resurrection Lutheran Church in Sand Lake. Your first visit is free so come check out what TOPS can do to help you reach your weight loss goals! Exercise 8-8:30am (optional), weigh-ins from 8:30am–9am and the meeting starts at 9:15am. In case of inclemeent weather, meetings are cancelled if Tri-County or Cedar Sporings schools are closed. Call Martha at 696-1039 for more information. #3

Candlelight Snowshoe Walk
Jan. 28, Feb. 11: Enjoy a gorgeous walk/ excursion through the nature center’s scenic trails, in the quiet of the night – listen to the nocturnal sounds as we go along. Hot refreshments  will be served and snowshoe equipment will be provided. A $2 discount is available to participants who bring their own snowshoes. Saturdays, Jan. 28 & Feb. 11 from 6:30 pm to 9 pm. Cost: $8/ adults, $5 seniors or $25 family (four or more). Howard Christensen Nature Center, 16190 Red Pine Dr. Kent City. If interested simply email cperski@lilysfrogpad.com.  #3

Posted in Hometown HappeningsComments Off

Jonah and the whale

A little girl was talking to her teacher about whales.
The teacher said it was physically impossible for a whale to swallow a human because even though it was a very large mammal its throat was very small.
“But Jonah was swallowed by a whale,” stated the little girl.
Irritated, the teacher reiterated that a whale could not swallow a human; it was physically impossible.
The little girl said, “When I get to heaven I will ask Jonah.”
The teacher asked, “What if Jonah went to hell?”
The little girl replied, “Then you ask him.”

Posted in Joke of the WeekComments Off

Game-Winning Dips and Healthy Tips

Enjoy a game-day party and keep your resolutions on track

(Family Features)

Two of the most popular New Year’s resolutions are losing weight and eating healthier. But by the time the big game rolls around, many people are ready for a break — or looking for an excuse to cheat. But kickoff does not have to be a signal to punt your healthy-eating habits.
Registered dietitian Jodie Shield knows it can be a struggle to celebrate and stay healthy. She’s put together some win-win tips and recipes — healthy and delicious — that are sure to keep fans cheering for more:
—Know your game plan. If you’re the home team (i.e. the party host), you get to call the plays. Serve entrees that are lean and festive, such as Touchdown Turkey Chili. Or prepare a thin whole wheat crust pizza using reduced-fat mozzarella cheese, tomato sauce and lots of sliced veggies.
—Offer a starting line-up of healthier appetizers. Whip some traditional game day favorites into shape. Instead of nachos, serve baked chips with salsa. Pass on the salt and butter and sprinkle a dash of Parmesan cheese over popcorn. Forget the fried chicken wings and serve baked chicken tenders seasoned with Hidden Valley Salad Dressing & Seasoning Mix.
—Think fresh. Skip the super subs and set up a sandwich bar with lean deli meats such as turkey breast and ham, low-fat cheese slices and prepped veggies — like sliced tomato and shredded lettuce — and low-fat toppings.
—Pass on super big portions. No matter what foods are served, remember you don’t have to eat the whole thing. Grab a small plate and load half of it up with fresh veggies and baked chips.
—Get in on the action. During halftime, grab your guests and head outdoors for a quick game of touch football. You can always record the commercials so you don’t miss out.

7 Layer Fiesta Ranch Dip

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Makes: 10 (1/4 cup) servings
1     16-ounce can fat-free refried beans
1/2     cup guacamole
1     package Hidden Valley Fiesta Ranch Dips Mix
1     cup fat-free sour cream or plain nonfat yogurt
1     cup shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese
6     green onions, chopped
1     medium tomato, chopped
1/4     cup sliced black olives (optional)
1. Spread each of the ingredients in the order listed over a 9-inch serving platter or pie dish.
2. Chill for an hour and serve.

Touchdown Turkey Chili

Touchdown Turkey Chili

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: High heat cooks for 4 hours; Low heat cooks for 8 hours
Makes: 8 (1 cup) servings
1     tablespoon olive oil
1     medium onion, chopped
1     medium green bell pepper, chopped
2     pounds lean ground turkey breast
2     cans (14.5 ounces each) Mexican-style diced tomatoes
1     can (6 ounces) reduced sodium tomato paste
1     can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
1     cup low sodium tomato juice
1     package Hidden Valley Fiesta Ranch Dips Mix
1. Heat olive oil in a large nonstick pan over medium-high heat.
2. Add onions and bell pepper and sauté until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes.
3. Remove and place in slow cooker.
4. Add ground turkey breast to the same pan and cook until crumbled and browned, about 8 to 10 minutes.
5. Add the turkey to the slow cooker along with all of the remaining ingredients.
6. Cover the slow cooker and cook for 4 hours on high heat or 8 hours on low heat.

Cheesy Ranch Popcorn

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 3 1/2 minutes
Makes: 6 (2 cup) servings
1     bag (3 ounces) reduced-fat, low sodium butter-flavored microwave popcorn
1/4 pack (0.25 ounces) Hidden Valley Salad Dressing & Seasoning Mix
3     sprays from olive oil mister
3     tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1. Pop popcorn according to package directions. Immediately open the bag and pour the popcorn into a large serving bowl.
2. Spray the popcorn with three sprays from the olive oil mister, toss with salad dressing and seasoning mix and then toss with the Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

Hold That Line Hummus Dip

“No need to pass on fabulous dips to maintain your diet,” said Shield. “Thanks to the protein and fiber in chickpeas, hummus is light, yet heart-healthy enough to satisfy hungry sports fans. Try this easy recipe for happy game day guests.”
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Makes: 8 (1/4 cup) servings
2     cans (15 1/2 ounces each) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
4     garlic cloves
1/3     cup lemon juice
1     package Hidden Valley Salad Dressing & Seasoning Mix
4     tablespoons cold water
1/2  cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
Dash of paprika for garnish
1. In a food processor, puree the chickpeas, garlic, lemon juice, salad dressing and seasoning mix and water until very smooth, about 3 minutes.
2. Add tahini paste and process an additional 2 minutes.
3. Spread hummus into a shallow serving bowl.
4. Sprinkle top with paprika.

Play Good Defense and Substitute
The best way to tackle those creamy, high-calorie dips is to make smart substitutions. Here are a few options to help you get started:
Instead of:     Use:
Guacamole     Salsa
Pesto        Chopped tomatoes and basil
Sour cream    Plain fat-free yogurt
Cheese     Reduced-fat cheese
Cream        Fat-free evaporated milk

For more recipes and tips, visit www.hiddenvalley.com.

Posted in Featured, RecipesComments Off