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Archive | March, 2014

What We Carry

by Ronnie McBrayer

by Ronnie McBrayer

Accumulate. It’s a dangerous little word that is employed to describe gently falling snow or the harmless growth of lint on the top bookshelf. But those things that slowly accumulate can become merciless blizzards or a horde of cascading dust bunnies.

What the Bible calls “trials and tribulations” accumulate, too. A setback. A disappointment. A protracted illness. A wayward child. Deep, wordless pain. Without a sound, the weariness of life gathers until one day a look out the window reveals drifts the size of sand dunes crushing against the soul.

And sometimes it’s not the accumulation of various difficulties that grows so heavy; it’s the accumulation of time. A load that was once manageable becomes impossible to bear if it is carried too long. A case in point: consider the familiar case of the weighted water bottle.

Take in your hand a water bottle. It weighs very little. How long can you hold it in your outstretched arm? A few minutes and you won’t be aware of the weight. Hold it for an hour and you will develop pain, tremors, and weakness. Hold it for hours on end and you will end up in need of a chiropractor or orthopedist. The bottle’s weight, over time, will break down even the strongest person.

All of us suffer from accumulation: The accumulation of hardships or the accumulation of time—what we used to bear with ease, is now too much. What do we do then? Some of us have been taught to tough it out. Others are taught to ignore it.

So caught between comforters who offer no comfort and burdens that cannot be unburdened, those who suffer usually go crazy, grow numb, or give up. They suffer in silence, the accumulating pain gathering oh so steadily, until they break. But in the breaking is the deliverance.

Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens.” Obviously, he was offering more than harsh motivation or disparaging clichés. He was speaking to those who needed actual relief. “I will give you rest for your souls,” he said.

Quite simply, when one has been sufficiently broken—cracked open by life’s experiences—then the relief and redemption they so desperately need will be there waiting for them. As Leonard Cohen wrote, “There’s a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” And that’s exactly how accumulated burdens get lifted.

Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, pastor, and author. His newest book is “The Gospel According to Waffle House.” You can read more at www.ronniemcbrayer.me

 

 

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Wrestlers earn championships

S-Wrestling-youth

On Saturday, March 15 and Sunday March 16, MYWAY Wrestling Western Region held Regional Finals at Kenowa Hills High School. Wrestlers have spent the last four months competing in preparation for the tournament. Competition was fierce as the top wrestlers in the western region came to compete to place top four in their weight classes in order to qualify for the MYWAY State Finals. Twenty three Cedar Springs Youth Wrestlers went to regionals and seventeen of those qualified for State Finals, four whom where Champions!

2014 Western Region Champions are Veronica Tapia at 37lb in the 5/6 age group, Keaton Klaasen at 52lb in the 7/8 age group, Landon Demorest at 47lb in the 9/10 age group, and Ryan Ringler at 158lb in the 11/12 age group.

Second place finishers were Pistachio Gonzales at 58lb in the 5/6 age group, Tommy Stevens at 58lb in the 7/8 age group, Trevor Marsman at 63lb in the 9/10 age group, and Jordan Ringler at 106lb in the 99-98 High School division.

Third place finishers Aiden Bouwens at 100lb in the 9/10 age group, Logan Hull at 85lb in the 11/12 age group and Samuel Couturier at 112lb in the 11/12 age group.

Rounding out the state qualifiers in fourth place were Caleigh Wood at 37lb in the 5/6 age group and Gage Gardner at 145 in the 13-15 age group.

Reese and Tacho Gonzales both fell one win short of qualifying by taking fifth place in their weight classes.

Cedar Springs will also be sending four girls to the MYWAY Girls State Championships,which will be held in conjunction with regular state finals. Allexis, Reese, Cora, and Zoe Gonzales will all be competing in the girls only tournament.

MYWAY State Finals will be held this weekend at the Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek, MI from Friday, March 28 until March Sunday, March 30. Anyone wanting to come out and watch the best wrestling in the state of Michigan can get the full schedule at www.mywaywrestling.com.

Cedar Springs youth wrestlers and coaches would like to thank the Post and its readers for their support by printing and reading the wrestling results each week. It has been a great season, with many more to come.

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West Michigan Pursuit wrestlers going to state

Lucus Pienton in the 13/14 Open age group in the 130/138 lb wt class

Lucus Pienton in the 13/14 Open age group in the 130/138 lb wt class

Last weekend was the last tournament before State Finals, which was hosted by Ionia. West Michigan Pursuit brought nine grapplers to compete and eight placed in the top four. The team battled 30 times with 17 ending in victory.

“I admire the kids who did not qualify for State but are still on the pursuit of becoming a Champion,” said Owner and Head Coach, Dave Andrus.”

This week’s placements are as follows:

4th Place Medalists include Hannah Pienton in the 11/12 Novice age group in the 75/80 lb wt class.

3rd Place Medalists include Hunter Chilcote in the 11/12 Novice age group in the 100/105 lb wt class and Gage Bowen in the 7/8 Open age group in the 77 lb wt class.

2nd Place Medalist include Nicholas Bartolo in the 7/8 Novice age group in the 67 lb wt class, Derek Egan in the 11/12 Novice age group in the 85 lb wt class, Lucus Pienton in the 13/14 Open age group in the 130/138 lb wt class and Chase Sarniak in the 4/56 Novice age group in the 46 lb wt class.

Champions are Landon Foss in the 4/5/6 age group in the 46 lb wt class.

Please watch for the State Finals results next week, which will be held at the Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek. Good luck to all of the young grapplers competing next weekend! You truly are The Pursuit of Champions!

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From Pond to River

By Ranger Steve Mueller

 

Water flows from high to low areas and over time it shortens its path. Tadpole Pond, at Howard Christensen Nature Center (HCNC), is higher than Chrishaven Lake, Spring Lake, Spring Creek, and Rogue River. The route water takes from Tadpole Pond to the Rogue River has a “youthful” geology.

Surrounding Tadpole Pond, rain and snowmelt drains a small area of higher ground to feed the pond. The pond was dredged deeper before becoming HCNC. The dredging cut deeper below the water table and allowed water to enter the pond from surrounding groundwater. This created a permanent shallow pond. An earth dam was constructed at the east end of the pond, with an overflow drain installed under Nature’s Habitats Trail leading toward Chrishaven Lake.

From the pond, water flows east into a boggy swamp that fills a glacial kettle lake basin formed 8000 years ago. A large block of ice left by a retreating glacier was buried and slowly melted. The melt water filled the resulting lake depression. Chrishaven Lake has been shrinking in size as vegetation gradually fills from shorelines.

Chrishaven Lake Boardwalk begins at the edge of an ancient 8000 year old shoreline and makes its way to the current open water of the lake. We cannot see open water from the ancient shoreline where the boardwalk begins. Water from Tadpole Pond makes its way through the swamp, enters the lake, and exits eastward through what was once part of the open water lake. Water continues flowing eastward saturating swampland forest where open water was once present. A small stream channel flows from the lake and crosses Nature’s Habitats Trail where a boardwalk leads through the lowland near the Swamp Shelter building.

View of the creek is lost as it merges into a large wetland forest on it way to Spring Lake. At one time Chrishaven Lake and Spring Lake may have been connected with open water. When water reaches Spring Lake, it no longer continues eastward. Spring Creek coming from north of 20 Mile Road enters Spring Lake and flows out its southwest corner. Upstream from the lake, Spring Creek is small. Where it exits the lake, the stream is about 30 feet wide because additional water feeds the creek from springs in the lake.

The east flowing water from Tadpole Pond turns westward and flows south of Chrishaven Lake and Tadpole Pond on its way west to the Rogue River. Given time, the water will flow directly west to the Rogue River from Tadpole Pond. Water takes the least resistant route. The current landscape is geologically known as youthful because water flow does not all converge directly toward Rogue River but follows an erratic path.

Given time, water will carry land away particle by particle to create a channel directly from Tadpole Pond to Rogue River. We will not live thousands of years to witness landscape changes that develop a mature river system and then an old geologic river system. Details of change from geologic youth to mature, and old age river systems will need to wait for another time.

During our lives, enjoy varied nature niches at HCNC that have developed along a youthful water course that flows east from Tadpole Pond to Spring Lake and turns 180 degrees to flow west to Rogue River. Dramatically different nature niches enhance biodiversity along the meandering watercourse. Visit HCNC and purchase an individual or family membership at the Red Pine Interpretive Center. HCNC has perhaps wildest and most diverse habitat variety of any designated nature study areas in Kent County.

Natural history questions or topic suggestions can be directed to Ranger Steve (Mueller) at odybrook@chartermi.net Ody Brook, 13010 Northland Dr, Cedar Springs, MI 49319-8433.  616-696-1753.

 

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Health alert: Are you at risk for type 2 diabetes and don’t know it?

HEA-Diabetes

(BPT) – Diabetes is a serious disease that strikes nearly 26 million children and adults in the U.S., and 7 million do not even know they have it. An additional 79 million, or one in three American adults, have prediabetes, which puts them at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

For 26 years, the American Diabetes Association has set aside one special day for people to learn their risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Held on the fourth Tuesday of every March, American Diabetes Association Alert Day (R) is a one-day “wake-up call” asking the American public to take the Diabetes Risk Test. This year’s Alert Day will be March 25. The Association will also be encouraging the public to start living a healthy and active lifestyle by asking them to join a Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes (R)event in their area.-

The Diabetes Risk-Test-asks users to answer simple questions about weight, age, family history, and other potential risk factors for-prediabetes-or-type 2 diabetes. Preventive tips are provided for everyone who takes the test. For every Diabetes Risk Test taken, Boar’s Head Brand(R)—a leading provider of premium delicatessen products—will donate $5 to the American Diabetes Association starting March 25 through April 25, 2014, up to $50,000.

Risk factors for type 2 diabetes include people who are overweight, are under active, over the age of 45 or who have a family history of diabetes. African Americans, Hispanic/Latinos, Native Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are also at higher risk. Understanding your risk for developing type 2 diabetes, or getting an early diagnosis, is critical to successful treatment and delaying or preventing some of its complications such as heart disease, blindness, kidney disease, stroke, amputation and death.

Carmen Micciche was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at the age of 31. By then, at 400 pounds, he’d been feeling the symptoms for about six years, yet he ignored them.

“I didn’t even know what diabetes was when I was diagnosed,” says Micciche, now 56.

Micciche, a Subway (R) restaurant franchise owner, was so focused on building a successful business he ignored his health and suffered through numerous gall bladder attacks before finally seeing a doctor. After checking his blood pressure and testing for diabetes, he was sent to the hospital.

Twenty year later, Micciche now weighs about 185 pounds and has brought his A1C (average blood glucose levels) down from a staggering 12 percent to just over 6 percent, which is close to the normal range. He finally learned, with daily exercise and healthy eating, what it takes to be healthy.

“Eat right, exercise, listen to your doctors,” he says. “You have to do everything you can to maintain a healthy weight. The consequences are too high if you don’t.”

Micciche has helped raise more than $1 million for the American Diabetes Association to help Stop Diabetes (R), placing donation boxes and selling pin-ups in each of his 30 Subway restaurants. He wants everyone to know that a type 2 diabetes diagnosis doesn’t have to end your life.

Studies have shown that type 2 diabetes can often be prevented or delayed by losing just 7 percent of body weight (such as 15 pounds if you weigh 200) through regular physical activity (30 minutes a day, five days a week) and healthy eating. By understanding your risk, you can take the necessary steps to help prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes.

Be part of the movement to Stop Diabetes and take the Diabetes Risk Test by going to diabetes.org/risktest, the Association’s Facebook page where you can share the test with friends and loved ones, or by calling 1-800-DIABETES (1-800-342-2383).

 

 

 

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Top fashion tips for spring and summer

HEA-Spring-fashion-trends

(BPT) – Spring is just around the corner – time to start planning your warm-weather wardrobe updates. To help you stay on top of the trends for spring 2014, the experts have plenty of advice to share.

Lynne Riding, who is the fashion coordinator at The Art Institute of Charleston, a branch of The Art Institute of Atlanta, and Dr. Courtney A. Hammonds, who has the same role at The Art Institute of Atlanta-Decatur, a branch of The Art Institute of Atlanta, offer some pointers.

Q: What are the top five trends for spring 2014?

A: “Look for clean, simple lines,” says Riding. “You’ll also see pleats, sheers and lace, and prints – both floral and graphic.” Hammonds agrees that pleats, especially knife pleats, will be big this spring. “Graphic prints are a major trend, using written words embroidered or printed across ready-to-wear garments,” he adds. “We’ll also see accessories with metallic touches in gold and bronze this year.”

Q: What are this spring’s top colors?

A: Both experts agree that lilac and other pastels are the most important color story for spring. Greens, especially mint green, are also big. “Muted and sophisticated tones predominate, although brights are also seen, particularly when paired with metallic touches,” Hammonds says.

Q: What one piece should everyone consider adding to her wardrobe to be on trend for spring?

A: “A poplin dress shirt in white, lilac or mint green is a great spring/summer addition,” says Riding. “It could either be a long wrap shirt without buttons or a long shirt worn on the hips with a belt.” Hammonds recommends adding a modern accessory, such as a metallic bag or clutch, statement eye frames, or even a metallic shoe that can go from day to night.

Some other ideas to give your wardrobe the fashion edge this spring? Consider a longer skirt (mid-calf or upper ankle length), wearing a classic shirt untucked with the bottom several buttons undone, or an accessory with fringe. And be sure to hang on to fashions with color blocking. Riding says this trend is continuing to be popular.

Whatever you do, Hammonds advises, dare to be edgy and always be true to yourself and your personal style. Riding adds, “A trend only works if it works for you. Does it fit your style, your lifestyle, what’s flattering? For instance, if lilac is not your color, don’t add a lilac dress to your wardrobe. Instead, choose a flower print that includes lilac or wear a print skirt with lilac tones along with a crisp white shirt.”

 

 

 

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Parents: spring chicks may carry Salmonella

HEA-Spring-chicks

Health officials at the Michigan Departments of Agriculture and Rural Development and Community Health warn parents that the baby poultry found in feed and pet stores in the spring may carry Salmonella, a common bacterial illness found in the droppings of poultry that can cause illness in people.

“Raising birds can be a great experience, but children need to be supervised and wash their hands after handling chicks and other poultry,” said State Veterinarian Dr. James Averill. “Even birds that appear healthy can carry bacteria that will make people sick.”

“Live poultry, especially baby poultry, can carry Salmonella germs, so it’s important to not keep them in the house and to wash your hands immediately after touching poultry or anything in the area where they live or roam,” said Dr. Matthew Davis, Chief Medical Executive with the Michigan Department of Community Health. “Treating poultry like you would a pet increases the risk for Salmonella infection in a household.”

Salmonella can make people sick with diarrhea, vomiting, fever and/or abdominal cramps lasting 4-7 days or more. People should always assume baby chicks carry Salmonella and should follow these recommendations to protect themselves and others:

Children younger than five-years-of-age, older adults, or people with weak immune systems should not handle or touch chicks, ducklings, or other live poultry because they are more likely to become severely ill.

Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after touching live poultry or anything in the area where they live and roam. Adults should supervise hand washing for young children.

Use hand sanitizer until you can wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.

Chicks should have a heat lamp and should be kept in a barn or garage, in a draft-free cage that keeps predators out.

Always keep poultry away from areas where food or drink is prepared, served, or stored, such as kitchens, or outdoor patios.

Do not kiss the chicks.

Do not touch your mouth, smoke, eat, or drink after handling live poultry.

Clean all equipment such as cages, feed, water containers and other materials associated with raising or caring for live poultry outside the house.

For more information, visit: http://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/live-poultry-04-13/advice-consumers.html

 

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Three easy DIY tips to maintain your vehicle

CAR-DIY-tips(BPT) – When it comes to vehicle maintenance there are two schools of practice: the “do it for me” and the “do it yourself.” The majority fall under the first category, meaning they opt to take their vehicle in for maintenance, mostly because having the ability to lift your vehicle for an oil change or having the proper tools for a tire rotation are not common in an average garage. We all know about the basic maintenance you should be doing like getting your oil changed and checking the belts and hoses for wear. But did you know there are other aspects of your vehicle you can easily maintain and, by doing so, will extend the life of your vehicle?

Spark plugs – The role of the spark plug is to ignite fuel in the cylinders. Spark plugs that aren’t working to their full capacity can reduce gas mileage or cause damage to other parts of the vehicle that can result in expensive repairs. If you choose to replace your own spark plugs instead of having the shop do it, the cost is less than $10 per spark plug.

Fuel injectors – Similar to spark plugs, fuel injectors are an important component to the life of your engine and car, particularly if you make a lot of short trips or have many miles on your vehicle. Fuel injector openings are half the size of a pinhole and can become blocked from sediment that gets into your vehicle via the gasoline. Why keep your fuel injectors clean? Driving with dirty fuel injectors can lead to poor acceleration, lower power, reduced fuel economy, rough idling and high carbon monoxide emissions. An easy way to maintain your fuel injectors is to use a fuel injector cleaner and stabilizer like Royal Purple’s Max-Clean. Use a bottle of Max-Clean by simply pouring it into your gas tank before your fill up at the gas station. Good for both gasoline and diesel vehicles, it can restore fuel economy and clean injectors.

Air filter – How often you change your air filter depends on where you drive. Regular travel in rural areas will require you to change your air filter more often than you would if the majority of your driving is on the highway. Driving with a dirty air filter can cause a pressure drop that restricts airflow, reducing fuel economy, performance and emissions. A good way to determine if your air filter is dirty is to remove it and hold it up to the light. If it is caked with dirt you should replace it. Shaking or blowing it out will not clean it, but only embed the dirt further into the fibers.

In addition to following a regular maintenance schedule for your vehicle, checking less thought of items can result in better fuel economy, and therefore result in money savings and longer life of your vehicle.

 

 

 

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IRS has $760 Million in unclaimed refunds for 2010

 

 

WASHINGTON — Refunds totaling almost $760 million may be waiting for an estimated 918,600 taxpayers who did not file a federal income tax return for 2010, the Internal Revenue Service announced today. However, to collect the money, a return for 2010 must be filed with the IRS no later than Tuesday, April 15, 2014.

“The window is quickly closing for people who are owed refunds from 2010 who haven’t filed a tax return,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “We encourage students, part-time workers and others who haven’t filed for 2010 to look into this before time runs out on April 15.”

The IRS estimates that half the potential refunds for 2010 are more than $571.

Some people may not have filed because they had too little income to require filing a tax return even though they had taxes withheld from their wages or made quarterly estimated payments. In cases where a return was not filed, the law provides most taxpayers with a three-year window of opportunity for claiming a refund. If no return is filed to claim a refund within three years, the money becomes property of the U.S. Treasury.

For 2010 returns, the window closes on April 15, 2014. The law requires that the return be properly addressed, mailed and postmarked by that date. There is no penalty for filing a late return qualifying for a refund.

The IRS reminds taxpayers seeking a 2010 refund that their checks may be held if they have not filed tax returns for 2011 and 2012. In addition, the refund will be applied to any amounts still owed to the IRS or their state tax agency, and may be used to offset unpaid child support or past due federal debts such as student loans.

By failing to file a return, people stand to lose more than just their refund of taxes withheld or paid during 2010. In addition, many low-and-moderate income workers may not have claimed the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). For 2010, the credit is worth as much as $5,666. The EITC helps individuals and families whose incomes are below certain thresholds. The thresholds for 2010 were:

• $43,352 ($48,362 if married filing jointly) for those with three or more qualifying children;

• $40,363 ($45,373 if married filing jointly) for people with two qualifying children;

• $35,535 ($40,545 if married filing jointly) for those with one qualifying child;

• and $13,460 ($18,470 if married filing jointly) for people without qualifying children.

Current and prior year tax forms and instructions are available on the Forms and Publications page of IRS.gov or by calling toll-free 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676). Taxpayers who are missing Forms W-2, 1098, 1099 or 5498 for 2010, 2011 or 2012 should request copies from their employer, bank or other payer.

If these efforts are unsuccessful, taxpayers can get a free transcript showing information from these year-end documents by going to IRS.gov. Taxpayers can also file Form 4506-T to request a transcript of their tax return.

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Home office deduction features simpler option

 

 

If you work from home, you should learn the rules for how to claim the home office deduction. Starting this year, there is a simpler option to figure the deduction for business use of your home.

The new option will save you time because it simplifies how you figure and claim the deduction. It will also make it easier for you to keep records. It does not change the rules for who may claim the deduction.

Here are six facts from the IRS about the home office deduction.

1. Generally, in order to claim a deduction for a home office, you must use a part of your home exclusively and regularly for business purposes. Also, the part of your home used for business must be: your principal place of business, or a place where you meet clients or customers in the normal course of business, or a separate structure not attached to your home. Examples might include a studio, garage or barn.

2. If you use the actual expense method, the home office deduction includes certain costs that you paid for your home. For example, if you rent your home, part of the rent you paid could qualify. If you own your home, part of the mortgage interest, taxes and utilities you paid could qualify. The amount you can deduct usually depends on the percentage of your home used for business.

3. Beginning with 2013 tax returns, you may be able to use the simplified option to claim the home office deduction instead of claiming actual expenses. Under this method, you multiply the allowable square footage of your office by a prescribed rate of $5. The maximum footage allowed is 300 square feet. The deduction limit using this method is $1,500 per year.

4. If your gross income from the business use of your home is less than your expenses, the deduction for some expenses may be limited.

5. If you are self-employed and choose the actual expense method, use Form 8829, Expenses for Business Use of Your Home, to figure the amount you can deduct. You claim your deduction on Schedule C, Profit or Loss From Business, if you use either the simplified or actual expense method. See the Schedule C instructions for how to report your deduction.

6. If you are an employee, you must meet additional rules to claim the deduction. For example, in addition to the above tests, your business use must also be for your employer’s convenience.

For more on this topic, see Publication 587, Business Use of Your Home. It’s available at IRS.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

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Volunteers needed for Resurrection Celebration

ENT-ResurrectionCelebration-logo-2Resurrection Celebration, a Cedar Springs community production celebrating the good news of the Easter story, is back for 2014 and is still in need of volunteers. We would love to have you join us! There are many positions to fill, including men, women and families to be part of the Biblical crowd scenes, ushers, childcare workers and food coordinators. The shows will be April 19 at 2 and 7 p.m. at Cedar Springs High School. If you would like to help out in some way, meet at The Springs Church, 135 N. Grant Street, this Sunday, March 30, from 2-4 p.m. or contact Cherryl and Jan at resurrectioncelebration@outlook.com.

 

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April Fools Day Office Pranks

 

1. Ring your friend before he / she goes to work and say “I’m so sorry to hear you got fired !” – Act surprised they didn’t know yet.

2. Use a 3M Post-it note placed underneath someone’s computer mouse – ensure that it covers the ball or the optical sensor on the bottom. When they go to use the mouse, it won’t work! On the 3M Post-it simply write April Fool!

3. Advertise your bosses job in the local newspaper (Great if you want to get fired !).

 

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