• Grieving and Getting Through the Holidays

    Blog | Sheryl Giesbrecht | December 16, 2020

    Is there an empty place at your table this Christmas? For many, this will be their first holiday season without their loved one. It’s okay to remember them. This year, my dad is celebrating his third Christmas in heaven. We recently visited dad’s grave at the beautifully decorated Central Valley veteran’s cemetery; a moving experience to see hundreds of natural pine wreaths with their bright red bows placed lovingly in front of each white marble headstone. Dad would have loved it.

  • Why Do We Come Together?

    Blog | Gilbert Camacho | December 10, 2020

    Every year at churches, street corners and even the mall, carols and hymns can be heard bringing in the Christmas season. Christmas isn’t just another day; it’s different. It’s not because of the snow, not everyone gets it.  It’s not the parades or bowl games, not everyone watches.  It’s not about the gifts, we don’t always get want we want.  Something about this season changes us.  The feeling is perhaps described best in the movie Scrooged (1988).  Frank Cross, portrayed by Bill Murray, asserts:

  • Giving Thanks Even If

    Blog | Christine Vogelsang | November 26, 2020

    “Why are you riding a city bus to school? That’s not right! Teachers shouldn’t be riding the bus!”

    My seventh grade student, a very mature young man who had failed this grade at least twice, was indignant that his teacher was using public transportation.

    “I appreciate your concern, Charles, but I’m just fine riding the bus. My husband needs the car during the day, and this works out for us.”

    Two days later, Charles sat on my desk and leaned in confidentially:

    “I’ve got a great lead on a sweet red convertible that you’d look really good driving.”

  • Believe God More

    Blog | Sheryl Giesbrecht | November 24, 2020

    “Our belief in God is not blind faith. Belief is having a firm conviction something is true, not hoping it’s true,” said Max Lucado. Have you looked forward to something for a long time, then when you finally got it, it wasn’t at all what you thought it would be. Did you feel deceived? You had faith in the object, not in the one it came from. Is it any surprise some of us have a hard time trusting God? When bad things happen to good people, we second-guess God’s love for us.

  • Take Off Those Blinders

    Blog | Kim Rider | November 19, 2020

    When I was 7 years old, I asked for a new bicycle for Christmas. This was in addition to the many other items I had circled in the annual Sears and Roebuck Christmas Wish Book. I did not expect to receive a new bike for Christmas, as it was more than my parent’s budget allowed. But a girl can wish, can’t she? Christmas morning came and my brother and I opened all our gifts and we got most everything we wanted, but there was no bike under the tree for me. As we started enjoying our new toys, my dad asked if I would get him a glass of water from the kitchen.

  • When Ministry Knocks You Down

    And Getting Back Up

    Blog | Charles Stone | November 05, 2020

    If you’re a pastor, a missionary, or serve in a church, you can’t avoid discouragement, disappointment, and hurt from ministry. The Bible even uses the not-so-complimentary metaphor “sheep” to describe those we serve. And sheep get dirty and smelly and often kick and bite. Sometimes those sheep in the church do the same to their shepherds. So when you get kicked, forgotten, disrespected, ignored, mistreated, gossiped about, or misunderstood, how do you move forward?

  • If Only

    Blog | Karen McGuire | October 29, 2020

    How many times in life have you uttered those words – if only! If only I had a better job, if only I made better grades, if only my teacher liked me, if only, if only, if only ….

    We wish and wish that things were different, better, less stressful, easier, etc. It seems that IF ONLY this one thing would go my way then life would improve, at least in whatever way we want at that moment.

    Often we find, after time has passed that if our IF ONLY wish had come true, life would be more complicated, difficult and less pleasing. Hindsight, as they say, is 20/20!