Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas in Heaven

Several of my friends are grieving the death of a loved one this past year. Friends and readers, I pray that this poem will bring you some peace and joy, knowing that your father, mother, son, daughter, friend and/or loved one has just celebrated his or her first Christmas in Heaven.

Christmas in Heaven

I’ve had my first Christmas in Heaven,
A glorious, wonderful day.
I stood with the saints of the ages
Who found Christ, the Truth and the Way.

I sang with the heavenly choir,
Just think, I joined in to sing
And, oh, what celestial music
We brought to our Savior and King!

We sang the glad songs of redemption,
How Jesus to Bethlehem came.
And how they called His name -- Jesus --
That all might be saved through His Name.

We sang once again with the angels
The message they sang that blest morn,
When shepherds first heard the glad story,
That Jesus, the Savior, was born.

0 dear ones, I wish you had been there.
No Christmas on earth could compare
With all of the rapture and glory
We witnessed in Heaven so fair.

You know how I always loved Christmas.
It seemed such a wonderful day,
With all of my loved ones around me
The children so happy that day.

Yes, now I can see why I love it,
And, oh, what a joy it will be
When you and my loved ones are with me
To share in the glories I see.

So, dear ones on earth, here’s my greeting.
Look up till the day dawn appears.
Oh, what a Christmas awaits us
Beyond our parting tears!!

Author Unknown

Friday, December 14, 2012

May We be Light in This Dark World

by Shelly Burke, Editor

May God bless and comfort the victims of the shooting in Connecticut. It's almost more heartbreaking than I can bear, thousands of miles away and knowing no one involved...when I think of my kids, their friends and parents, and teachers I know and love, I cannot imagine the heartbreak of those in Connecticut. 

Here's what I've been studying this week: Jesus said, "You are the light of the world...let your light shine before others..." Matt. 5:14, 16. May we let our lights shine God's love to help the hurting and grieving whether in different states or right next door. And as my brother-in-law says, "God bless us all. It's our only chance."

Friday, December 7, 2012

Christmas Cheer!

I LOVE Christmas music!

This year I started listening even before Thanksgiving! If I'm in my vehicle I'll switch radio stations so there's almost non-stop Christmas music and at home I either listen to CDs or the music stations on TV.

The beginning strains of "Oh Come, All Ye Faithful" immediately take me to Christmas Eve service at our church, as do the sounds of "Silent Night, Holy Night." In our church during this song all of the lights are turned down and the only light is from candles. I can't describe

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Perfect Gift for the Moms on Your List!

Home is Where the Mom Is; A Christian Mom's Guide to Caring for Herself, Her Family, and Her Home is the perfect gift for any mom on your list!
This comprehensive guide begins with an extensive guide to encourage the reader to care for herself,, spirit, mind, and body, first, so she can then care for her family and her home. As well as encouraging moms to consider information from experts and "real life" moms, Home is Where the Mom Is shows readers how to make decisions based upon Christian principles and what they know about their one-of-a-kind family. 

Other topics covered include: 
  • Renewing and maintaining mom's relationship with her husband
  • Dealing with the good, the bad, and the ugly aspects of extended-family relationships
  • Bringing money into the home while keeping family top priority
  • Learning how to set and work toward goals so you can evaluate your hard work as a wife, mom, and home manager
Click on the tab above to view the full table of contents. 

With its unique approach, Home is Where the Mom Is will help you improve all areas of your life as a mom, especially if you are an at-home mom! 

Shelly Burke is a Nebraska author and will write a personal note
 to the recipient, per your request! 

Only $15 with FREE shipping and handling! Purchase several copies for an additional discount! Click "Buy it Now" on the side bar and order today! 

Medical Mission Team Returning to Nicaragua; Spaghetti Feed Sunday!

Medical Mission Team Returning to Nicaragua; Spaghetti Feed Sunday!

Mark your calendars for the Columbus Medical Mission Team Spaghetti Feed Fundraiser this Sunday, Dec. 9th, at Peace Lutheran Church in Columbus, from 12:00-2:00 PM, and silent auction and Christmas Bake Sale.

The Medical Mission Team will be returning to Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua in February for their fourth trip. Read about the team and a previous trip at Medical Mission Team Traveling to Nicaragua

Friday, November 9, 2012

Enjoying the “Little” Things
By Shelly Burke, Editor

“Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” Robert Brault

I read this quote this morning and have been thinking about it all day! I scrapbooked with several college friends this weekend and of course we talked and laughed about college life and our lives since we’ve been together-- 20+ years! (We also talked about things that 20 years ago I’m sure we never even THOUGHT about—like facial wrinkles, house payments, and our kids who are now in college!)

Shelly, Mary, and Linda--college
friends and scrapbooking buddies
As we reminisced, we didn’t talk about the “big” things (classes, careers, or world events); the memories that made us laugh the most were the “little” things—pranks that made us laugh, silly comments and phrases and inside jokes we remembered.

I usually scrapbook specific events, and most often make pages for Cody and Morgan’s scrapbooks. This time I decided to make an album just for me, including pictures that make me smile and remind me of the good times with family and friends.  
I can't remember why my
sisters and I are doing "jazz
hands" behind my mom...but we
obviously thought it was very funny. 
Today, after I read this quote, I paged through the album I completed over the weekend. I quickly realized that even when the pictures were taken at an important event--Confirmation, a winning cattle show, an anniversary or holiday--it was the little things that made those pictures so precious--that millisecond in time that caught the perfect smiles, goofy faces and funny poses and precious moments that I am thankful I was a part of.

I hope that you will take the time every day to enjoy and thank God for the “little” things in life!

Thank you God, for the "little" things. Please help me to always recognize and enjoy them!

Click to read my thoughts, and, more importantly, God’s encouragement directions as for us, regarding the election.)

Friday, November 2, 2012

Giving Thanks for Coconuts
By Shelly Burke, Editor and Publisher, Nebraska Family Times

Since Thanksgiving is in November, I’ve decided to make November the month of “giving thanks.”

The Bible commands us to be thankful; Psalm 106:1 says, “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.” This command is repeated in Psalm 107:1 and 136:1. The Bible also tells us that we should be “always giving thanks…for everything.” (Ephesians 5:20) and that we should “…give thanks in all circumstances.” (1 Thess. 5:18).

One of the things I’m most thankful for is the joy of being a mom. Cody will turn 21 this month, and Morgan will turn 19 next month. The years have just flown by! Every day this month I’m going to write about one of my memories of being a mom, and why I’m thankful for that experience or memory. And since I’m also thankful for my mom, she will probably be mentioned too. J

Today my memory has to do with…a coconut. Specifically, dropping that coconut…on Morgan’s head.

You see, one of my goals as a mom was to teach my kids about things they normally wouldn’t do/eat/see every day. One day in the grocery store Cody saw a coconut and asked what it was. He was fascinated by it so I decided to buy it so we could crack it, drink the liquid inside and taste it.

To crack the coconut the kids watched as I dropped it on the sidewalk outside of our house. I dropped it several times but it didn’t crack, so I decided to go up on the steps of our deck and drop it from that height. Unfortunately, Morgan walked under it at the exact moment I dropped it!

Thankfully she wasn’t hurt. She didn’t even cry, but gave me a very hurt look; she was only about 3 years old and just didn’t understand why mom would drop this strange-looking thing on her head! I was thankful that she wasn’t hurt, and the next “drop” successfully cracked the coconut and we did catch a few drops of the juice and enjoyed a few chunks of fresh coconut.

However, the memory both kids carry from that day is, “When mom dropped the coconut on Morgan’s head.” I belonged to a MOPS (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers) group at the time, and one thing I always loved about MOPS was that no matter what experience I’d had, someone else had had the same experience…until I dropped the coconut on Morgan’s head. Until this day, no other mom has admitted doing the same to one of their kids. I guess I can also say that I’m thankful that I’ve done something to my little girl that no other mother has!

What have you done, as a mom, that no other mom will admit to? Share it in the comments!

(I’m also blogging at;
read today why I’m so thankful for friends.)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

His Kids Camp Part Two

by Shelly Burke, Nebraska Family Times Editor

(If you would like a FREE sample copy of the Nebraska Family Times, send your request, along with your mailing address, to 

(Editor’s Note: I was a volunteer camp nurse at Camp Luther’s His Kids Camp in June.)

The morning medication pass is the biggest one all day, but the campers and their buddies were patient while I double-checked names and medications. As I was getting things put away Josh Rausch, the Program Director, invited me to chapel.

 It was heart-warming to walk down the hill and hear the campers and their buddies chatting about the hot weather and what was scheduled for the day. Buddies cautioned their campers to watch their step on the rough ground, and helped them find a seat in the beautiful old building.

From the outside I couldn't imagine how the 50+ campers, buddies, and volunteers would fit into the chapel—but we did! And when we started singing—just WOW! I’m quite sure God heard our voices raised to Him! The campers who had been there before enthusiastically did all of the actions and those of us who hadn’t heard the songs quickly caught on. Campers and buddies listened intently as Josh taught how our hearts became dirty with sin, but God washed those sins away when Jesus died for us on the cross and then rose again. The simple lesson—the basis of Christianity--was presented in a way everyone understood and took joy in hearing.

A buddy signs while Josh plays his guitar to a camper
singing "Our God is an Awesome God"
The talent show on the final evening of camp was clearly a high point for campers and their buddies—as well as everyone who attended. Buddies worked with their camper to find a talent they wanted to share, and from the medication room I could see and hear some of the campers practicing their talent. Despite getting hints about the talent show, nothing could have prepared me for the actual event.  

As everyone found seats in Gerwick Hall, Josh, and Christina Hansen, another director, finalized the order of appearance of campers and prepared music and other props. As campers began showing their talents, I was amazed and touched at the response of everyone in the audience.

Campers and buddies singing during the talent show
Campers shared a wide variety of talents; one camper sang Our God is an Awesome God, and another invited all of us to stand, put our hands over our hearts, and join him as he sang and played drums to the National Anthem. A deaf camper and his buddy signed the Lord’s Prayer. Another camper demonstrated his ability to put together a puzzle. A camper I’d barely heard say a word smiled shyly as she was cheered and encouraged to sing a song.
The "evil stepsister" (right) and her camper were getting
along just fine when camp ended

Josh was quick to join a camper who had a bit of stage fright; he held her hand as they skipped across the stage. Another camper invited most of the audience to be characters in a play she had written. Laughter swept through the hall as she designated her buddy, a very sweet young lady, to be her “evil stepsister.” (I was glad the play ended on a happy note, with the “sisters” hugging each other.)

Every talent was applauded with cheers and shouts and whistles from the audience, and every camper was valued and lifted up for his or her talent and courage at performing in front of others. God’s love for every single one of us, regardless of our abilities, was poured out through everyone in the building that evening; I have tears in my eyes now, almost three months later, remembering.

A deaf camper (right) signs a story while his buddy
signs and speaks for the camper
I plan to make His Kids Camp a part of my summer every year! You can take part too. Volunteers are needed as buddies and helpers. (Buddies are given thorough training so they are comfortable with the needs of their campers.)  Nurses are needed to distribute medications and give treatments.

Supplies and financial donations are always appreciated. If you’d like you can donate specifically to sponsor a camper and his or her buddy; a full sponsorships is $400 and partial sponsorships are needed as well. And of course, special needs campers are needed! Please spread the word about His Kids Camp and Respite Weekends (see upcoming dates on the back page of this issue of The Nebraska Family Times). For more information go to or or contact Leila Rehbein, His Kids Camp Director, at (402) 981-5732. Camp Luther and His Kids Camp are also on Facebook.

Camp Luther also offers a variety of camps and retreats for kids and adults of all ages. 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Summer Update and His Kids Camp Part One

by Shelly Burke, Editor, Nebraska Family Times

Gosh time has flown by! I don't know where the summer went! Between taking Morgan to college in Colorado and some family issues, I was surprised to turn the calendar over today and realize that it's October! Last time I posted here was just after I'd volunteered as Camp Nurse at Camp Luther near Schuyler, NE. The days at His Kids Camp, for special needs teens and adults, truly changed my life. I'm going to begin "catching up" here by posting about His Kids Camp. 

These articles were originally printed in the Nebraska Family Times newspaper, of which I'm the editor and publisher. The mission of the Nebraska Family Times is "to inspire, encourage, and motivate you in your Christian walk." The Nebraska Family Times is a pro-life, pro-family publication, and we share national, state, and local news and events from a Christian point of view. For more information check out our blog at Nebraska Family Times and "like" us on Facebook. For a FREE sample issue of the paper, e-mail your request to sure to include your mailing address--or call (402) 750-3496. 

Now, I hope you will enjoy reading about His Kids Camp! 
His Kids Camp Part 1
By Shelly Burke, RN

I’m having a hard time finding the words to describe my experience at His Kids Camp in June. I volunteered as the Camp Nurse and was there  from Wednesday afternoon through Saturday morning.

His Kids Camp is a camp for special needs children and adults. The group that I was there for was made up mostly of teens and young adults with a variety of diagnosis, including Down Syndrome, autism, and so on. Each camper was paired with at least one “buddy,” who assisted that camper as needed with activities, meals, getting dressed, and so on.

I arrived before the campers did so I could get the medication area organized, and I was more than a little nervous about meeting the campers. I hadn’t been to camp for many years (and if I remember right I got so homesick my parents had to come and get me after just a day) and had never worked with special needs kids or adults. Would they take their medications for me? Would I remember their names? Would I be asked to handle difficult behaviors? Would they like me (do we ever stop asking that question)?

These thoughts were swirling around in my mind as the first campers and their parents and caregivers came in. Most of my nervousness went away and I quickly got into “nurse” mode when the parents brought their child’s medications to me. They gave hints for getting their child to take medications and described in detail treatments and other cares needed. When two campers came in with CPAP machines (the machine forces air through a mask into the mouth and nose of people who suffer from sleep apnea) I wasn’t sure if the buddies would know how to use them, but a buddy quickly came and reassured the father that we’d make sure the machines were used correctly.

When a mom handed me her daughter’s g-tube and liquid medications and told me about her g-button (a device used to give nutrition and medications directly into the stomach) I assured her I’d worked with a g-button many times and it would be no problem to take care of her daughter’s.  

Giving medications at supper time was hectic; I hadn’t figured out a routine yet and didn’t know any of the campers. However, they all came up with their buddies, who told me their names, and everyone took their medications without complaint. I began to breathe a little bit easier.

Enjoying snack time.

After supper I went to work double checking the medications and figuring out a routine for giving them. I looked up several unfamiliar medications on the computer and got everything in order. The little girl with the g-button came in for her medications, and while she didn’t speak, her smile spoke volumes. When she circled her fist in front of her chest and then pointed at me, I wasn’t sure what she meant. Her buddies were eager to tell me that it meant “I like you!” and I quickly signed the same back to her. After I was done she gave me the tightest hug I think I’d ever received! At that point I knew the rest of camp was going to be great!

The campers joined in the big hall before bedtime and sang several songs. When I heard the director ask everyone to join hands for the Lord’s Prayer, I peeked out the window of the med room so I could say it with them. All had joined hands…except for a camper and his buddy across the room from me. They seemed to be talking to each other and I was wondering if the camper was having trouble…and then I realized, with tears in my eyes, that the camper was deaf and he and his buddy were signing The Lord’s Prayer to each other.

During His Kids Camp I was also able to spend some time with Hank and Sue Rausch. Hank is the Executive Director of Camp Luther, and Sue is the Outdoor Education Coordinator. They have been part of Camp Luther for about 10 years.

Both Hank and Sue shared their thoughts about His Kids Camp with me. Hank sees God’s hand at work every year when the campers check in. If they’ve been to His Kids Camp before, Hank says one of the first things they ask is, “Is my buddy {from last year} here?” Hank continues, “If the answer is “yes,” they jump for joy. If their buddy is not there, they are sad at first but then ask excitedly who their new buddy will be. To know that they remember their buddies name and the great times they had the previous year shows how God uses the buddies to touch the lives of the campers.”

Dance moves
Sue said her favorite part is when the returning campers return to His Kids Camp and “having them come running to me from across the lodge with their arms open for a big hug.”

I also talked with some of the buddies for His Kids Camp. All of the returning buddies and volunteers said they’d been nervous as new campers, but quickly overcame the nervousness. LeAnn Miller has been a buddy and volunteer for three years. She remembers, “The first year I was very nervous about being a buddy to someone with special needs. But I quickly realized that it’s not a one-person job—all the buddies and volunteers help each other. The most rewarding part is seeing the smiles on the campers’ faces when they go home—knowing that Jesus loves them and others do too.”

Camper Nicholas Cech had been to a fall retreat (see dates for His Kids weekend Retreats and His Kids Camp for this fall and 2013 on the back page of this issue of the Nebraska Family Times) and knew he wanted to come to a regular camp. He said that his favorite part of camp was chapel—“I truly felt the Holy Spirit!” he exclaimed. As I was saying good-bye to Nicholas he said, “I don’t want to leave. But I’ll be back!” And from the looks on the faces of the campers, buddies, and volunteers—he’s not the only one who will be back. 
Look for Part 2 of His Kids Camp tomorrow! 

You are "Treasured"!

Moms, one of the most important things you can do for yourself is to take time for yourself, every day. Even a few minutes doing something you enjoy can make a huge difference in how you feel mentally and emotionally.

Today I want to encourage you to take more than a few minutes to to do something for "you"! Below is information about the "Treasured" retreat, which will be held at Camp Luther in Schuyler, NE, in November. If you have young children at home I know it can take some planning for mom to be gone for a day or even overnight (the retreat begins Friday evening at 6PM and runs through Saturday afternoon. You may stay overnight at Camp Luther or return home for the night. And if you can only come either Friday evening OR Saturday morning, it's OK! While the sessions all revolve around the theme, each one stands on its own as well), but you have over a month to plan! 

Deb is a great speaker and author and you'll be inspired and refreshed by her talks. I hope to see you there!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Fair Memories

The Platte County Fair is going on this week and that brings back a lot of fun memories.

When I was "4-H age" (age 8-18 as of January 1st of that year) my sisters and I were very active in 4-H. We sewed, cooked, learned how to garden, and gave demonstrations. I remember trying to find 4 or 5 IDENTICAL beans or beets or tomatoes to take to the fair--they had to be the same size, shape, and color to qualify for a blue or purple ribbon. I remember sewing that last button on my dress (one year my very elaborate dress had about 10 buttons on each cuff, and another 15 or 20 buttons down the front!) on the way to the fair. I remember seeing friends I hadn't seen all summer, and eagerly looking to see how we'd done on our projects.

I remember mom teaching us how to measure ingredients accurately and helping us sew perfect seams and teaching us how to make buttonholes. Looking back, I know that I didn't appreciate her endless patience as she taught us—thanks mom! Through 4-H we learned not only the practical lessons of how to make muffins or sew a hem, but lessons about following directions and working hard to make our entries perfect. We also learned life-lessons of confidence and talking to adults as we modeled our clothes and talked to judges about our other entries.

Until Cody and Morgan were 4-H age and showed at the fair I didn’t realize how much parents looked forward to the too. We share secret smiles with other parents in the early morning hours as we rush between animal pens or back to the truck to get a forgotten item. It's the tears of pride we try to hide (but other parents always understand) when our kids do well...the swelling of our hearts when we see siblings helping each other or other kids when an animal gets loose or someone needs a word of encouragement.

Early morning sheep washing
It's why we put the (seemingly) endless dollars and hours into projects, why we wake our kids up early (even when they're crabby) to take care of an animal or work on a project, why we practice patience as we teach (sometimes over and over!) our kids a new skill.  We know it's not just the ribbons they'll get during the fair, it's the life-long lessons the kids will take with them (like going back into the ring for dog agility after your dog took a detour out of the ring and around the whole building), and hopefully pass on to their kids someday.

This is the first year since the new millennium that neither Cody nor Morgan is showing an animal at the fair. It’s bittersweet for me because there were so many wonderful family moments at the fair.

One of my favorite memories is the year both Cody and Morgan were in the same class of showmanship during the cattle show. After several rounds, they were the only two left, competing against each other for the championship. For more than 20 minutes they were the only ones in the ring, leading and setting up their animals, watching the judge, and doing everything “just right.” Neither of them made a mistake. Finally the judge asked them to switch places in the ring…and Morgan turned her calf counterclockwise instead of clockwise. And that was it; Cody was the champion. But it was a friendly competition and both were happy at how they’d done!

Another great memory is the year my parents and grandfather came to the fair. It was so neat to share the experience with them; although we’d exhibited at many fairs as kids, my sisters and I never showed animals. It was a very hot year, but mom and dad and grandpa sat patiently through the sheep show and the cattle show. Cody and Morgan were so proud and happy to have them there and answered all of their questions about showing.

For two memorable (and very tiring) years in a row, Morgan showed sheep, cattle, and dogs. That meant three days in a row of being to the fair before 6:00 AM and showing for much of the day. Morgan did a great job and won several trophies…but agreed that showing three different species was just too much.

Today and tomorrow Morgan will be cheering on several friends as they show their sheep and pigs for the last time at the county fair. Tomorrow she and Cody will be helping our neighbor’s kids show their cattle for the very first time.

Good luck at your county fair, everyone! Cherish those memories!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Bad Company Ruins Good Morals

This article is the first in a series titled “Teach Your Children Well.” As parents, our job is to teach our children, and what better instruction book than the Bible? I’ve tried to teach our children from the Bible since they were little. They are 18 years old and 20 years old now; Cody will be a junior in college and Morgan a freshman. And I’m still teaching them from the Bible. I hope that you’ll get ideas for teaching your children of any age to follow God and do His will through the posts in this series.

Bad Company Ruins Good Morals
By Shelly Burke

“Do not be deceived; “bad company ruins good morals.”” (1 Corinthians 15:33)

(from Google Images)
My study Bible notes say that this quote was taken from a Greek comedy that the people of Corinth would be familiar with, so Paul used these words when he was talking to them.   In this case the “bad company” was the group of people who were teaching that Christ had not risen after His crucifixion. Hanging around these people was likely to ruin the “good morals” of those who did believe in the resurrection.

How can you teach your children about the influence of others?

When our kids are toddlers we have control over who they spend time with. When they enter school we have less influence as they’re out of our care for several hours of each day. As they get older and involved in more activities, there are more and more outside influences that can affect the way they act and think. As our daughter Morgan prepares to go to college—in another state!—I realize that my time as an influence in her every day life is almost over. I pray that Tim and I have taught her well!

When your kids are small, keep it simple. They’re not likely to pick up things that will be against your morals at a young age, but other families who don’t share your values might expose your kids to things that don’t fit in with your morals—R rated DVDs, swearing, and so on. Consider inviting kids from those families to your home, both to guard against bad influences and so that you can influence them in a positive way.

(from Google Images)
As kids get older, be cautious about not allowing them to spend time with certain kids, or criticizing those kids who don’t share your values and morals. Instead of forbidding contact (which is probably impossible if they attend the same school, church, or activities and your forbidding it may make your child want to spend more time with that child) point out behaviors that you see that don’t fit in with your morals. “Did you see those parents yelling and cussing at the ref at the t-ball game? That is not the way to handle the situation.”  or, “I know that Cynthia’s family watches TV shows that I don’t want you to watch. They show things that we don’t do and don’t approve of because they’re not what Jesus would want us to do.”

How can a group influence an individual?

 Start introducing the concept of how groups can affect a person’s actions—both in positive and negative ways. Even if your child wouldn’t normally steal, smoke, or take part in activities that you would frown upon, peer pressure and being in a group in which these activities are accepted and encouraged, can make them seem acceptable.

When your kids are in middle-school and high-school, talk about “real life” events in their own lives and the lives of their classmates and friends in relation to the company they keep and the morals that their actions demonstrate. Unfortunately, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to talk about the long-term negative effects of unintended pregnancy, drug use, cheating, lying, sneaking out, dropping out of school, and so on, as so many of these negative things are acceptable to so much of the world. Again point out how groups can affect an individual’s behaviors, both positive and negative.

Be sure to make these conversations—not lectures in which you’re the only one talking. Ask your child why he thinks “good” kids sometimes get involved with “bad” groups. Talk about how bad decisions can have very long-term affect on someone’s life.

Provide a way out

(from Google Images)
Talk with your child about how he or she can get out of a situation if necessary; my dad frequently reminded my sisters and I that we needed to have a plan before we got into a bad situation (of course it’s ideal to avoid situations like this, but a group can quickly and unexpectedly decide to do something; it’s best to make sure your child is prepared for this!).

Practice conversations in which you play someone pressuring your child to drink alcohol, cheat on a test, have sex, and so on. When your child has a ready response he is much less likely to get caught up in negative activities. Reassure your child that you will pick him up from any location, at any time, with just a phone call.  

Remember that at some point kids are responsible for their own decisions, and they’ll probably make some that you wouldn’t approve of, regardless of the example you’ve set and the teaching you’ve done. Even kids brought up in a Christian family make bad decisions. Never stop praying for your child to remember what he or she has been taught.

What are you going to do to prepare your child for “bad company”?

I’m also blogging at Nebraska Family Times.
Click to read about my time as the camp nurse at His Kids Camp last week. 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Camping and a Few of my Favorite Links

I am having a wonderful time at camp this week! I’m volunteering as the camp nurse at His Kids Camp, a camp for special needs kids at Camp Luther. I haven’t even been her for 24 hours and have already been touched by the kids, their buddies (each camper is paired with a buddy or two to help with activities, meals, etc.) and the other volunteers and staff members.

I’ll write a full post about His Kids Camp next week but for today I’m going to list some of my favorite websites. It’s a diverse group, and I hope you’ll enjoy them as I do. When I update my blogs I’ll be suggesting new links, so please let me know what your favorite links are, either in the comments or in an e-mail to

First of all, His Kids Camp. Click here for more informationabout the camp. If you know a special needs camper, or would like to be a buddy or volunteer, please contact Josh or Christina—contact information is on the website.

If you’re like me and you really don’t like to do housework, check out the Fly Lady at You’ll find hundreds of tips on clearing the clutter, organizing your home, and keeping it clean. She also discusses the emotional aspects of clutter and getting rid of clutter. On one page she says, Our FlyLady system is all about establishing little habits that string together into simple routines to help your day run on automatic pilot.” I don’t use every single part of her system, but I’ve found enough great information to make it worthwhile.

I am so thankful for the pastors that have been a part of my life. We don’t see the many, many hours they devote to shepherding their flocks of church members; they’re part of some of our happiest and saddest moments on earth. Today I came across a great article that reminded me to thank our pastors (priests and other church leaders). Read “What Our Pastors Wish we Knew” and encourage your pastor today!

For pro-life news that you probably won’t get elsewhere, go to LifeNews covers the topics of abortion, assisted suicide and euthanasia, bioethic issues like human cloning and stem cell research, and campaigns and elections and legal and legislative issues.

One of the best books I’ve read recently is “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin. The book documents her year of “Test driving the wisdom of the ages, the current scientific studies, and the lessons of popular culture about how to be happier.”
I’m happy in my life—don’t get me wrong! And Gretchen was happy in her life, too. She wanted to make sure she felt grateful every single day, in the ordinary things. She wanted to look past the little things that bugged her, to the bigger picture. She wanted to set a higher standard for herself in all of her roles—as mother, daughter, writer, and so on.

“The Happiness Project” will inspire and motivate you to consider what you can do to make your life a little happier. The website is full of great information to help you design your own happiness project. I have used many of Rubin’s hints and tips and some of her downloads. I also get her monthly newsletter. This is a book and site like The Flylady; you probably won’t use everything you read, but you’ll find enough useful information to make it worthwhile!

Please let me know what you think of my suggestions, and don’t forget to share your own favorite links! 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

“And He will give His Angels Charge Over You”…in a Burning Tractor

by Shelly Burke

from Google Images
I ask God to protect my loved ones every morning. Unless they are traveling, it’s usually a general prayer, something along the lines of, “Please keep them safe in everything they do today.”

I said that prayer, as always, one morning last week.

A few hours later, Tim sent me the picture below. He had been driving the tractor to fill in a hole in the road and noticed it was overheating. He drove it off the road (thankfully not near any grass as it’s VERY dry here), got out to open the hood and see if he could tell what was wrong, and saw smoke, and then flames.

Thankfully he’d grabbed his cell phone when he got out, so was able to call 911 immediately. It took the fire trucks about 20 minutes to arrive, and by that time the tractor was a complete loss.

Tim sent the picture to my cell phone, and I didn’t realize how serious the situation was until I sent it to my e-mail (I still have a non-smart phone with a tiny screen!). When I saw how completely the tractor was destroyed, I sat down and took a deep breath. The situation could have been tragic had Tim not gotten out when he did…had he not parked the tractor away from anything flammable…had not God’s angels been watching over him.

I said a heartfelt prayer of thanks—thanks that God protected my husband, and thanks that I don’t have to list every possible situation in which my family might need protection.  .  

“And He will give His angels charge over thee, to keep the in all thy ways.
They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thee dash thy foot against a stone” (or burning tractor).
Psalm 91: 11-12

Thank You, Lord, for protecting my family, and especially for protecting Tim last week.  THANK YOU for giving your angels charge over those I love. Please guard everyone I love from every danger of body, mind or soul. Amen. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Teach Your Children Well

By Shelly Burke, Author, Home is Where the Mom Is; A Christian Mom's Guide 

(from Google Images)
As a Christian parent, your greatest task is to bring your children up believing in God and teaching them about Him, His Word and how they can live God-pleasing lives.

How can we as parents make sure that our children know the Lord? How can we instill in them the desire for faith and the desire to live a God-pleasing life?

In Deuteronomy 6 Moses says these words to the Israelites, shortly after receiving the Ten Commandments. “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” (Deut. 6:6-9)

In other words, we infuse these beliefs in our children by making them a central, integral part of our lives and theirs. I’ve edited the above verses to reflect the reality of life in 2012: “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts—in the midst of busy schedules, make time for ME first. Your most important job as a parent is not to make sure your kids are in the most activities, or are the “best” at anything they are involved in. Your job is to impress My commandments on your children so that they will follow them all the days of their lives.

Talk about Me when you are driving your kids to school or activities. Sing Christian songs or memorize Bible verses when you’re in the car. Say prayers with them before they go to bed, and talk about the day’s events. When did they feel My presence? When they bring up a difficult situation, listen…and ask them what I would do. When they wake up, remind them that I will be with them throughout the day and ask them how they will show My love to their friends.

Send them text messages on the cell phone that seems to be tied to their hands. Text them Bible verses of encouragement. Tell them you’ve prayed for them before a test. Load Christian music on the iPod or MP3 player that seems to be attached to their head.  

Write Bible verses on notecards and tape them to the mirror in the bathroom, to their bedroom door, the refrigerator, the dashboard of their car.

No matter the age of your children, take every chance to fill them with God’s Word and His love and instructions. As they get older they will be more and more influenced by others. Cody will enter his junior year and Morgan her freshman year of college in the fall. Tim and I won’t have the day-to-day contact with them that we do now. They’ll be exposed to many different people with different beliefs and opinions, probably including some that will contradict their Christian upbringing.

I thank God that both of our children were brought up in the church, and I pray every day that they will remember their Christian background and that God will put Christian friends in their paths.

Also from Deuteronomy: “Walk in all the way that the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong you days…” (Deut. 5:33)

Dear Lord, please help me to remember that teaching our children about You is the most important thing we can do as parents. Please help us to put that task above all the other things that seem so urgent and important. Please remind us that there are many, many teachable moments every single day; help us to take advantage of all of those moments, so that our children will grow up knowing You and Your will and Your Love. Amen.

I’m also the editor of a Christian newspaper, the Nebraska Family Times
                               Read my blog entry today, titled “Do Not Lose Heart.”             

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

School Schedules and Shots, or...The More Things Change...

School Schedules and Shots, or... The More Things Change...

By Shelly Burke, Editor and Publisher, Nebraska Family Times

The more things change, the more they stay the same!

This summer I’ve been thinking of all the things that will change in just a few months, when Morgan goes to college. This week, however, I got to do a few things just one more time.

Morgan set up her first semester schedule with her advisor on Monday. (She got to do it over the phone since we live so far away, so she didn’t get to experience the “fun” of long lines and finding out classes were full.) It was fun to see her excitement at her new schedule and hear about the classes she will be taking. She wishes more of her classes would be in the morning and isn’t thrilled with her math class, but overall is very excited to start in the fall. This reminded me of her excitement (and sometimes the disappointment) after the first day of school during grade school and high school. 

I also set up an appointment for her to get her meningitis shot before she leaves. (This vaccination is for a certain strain of bacterial meningitis that usually occurs where many people live together—like college dorms—and is often very serious and even deadly.) This also reminded me of the many other times I scheduled shots for her—while she was a baby, before kindergarten, before 7th grade, and now before college. I felt like a “mean mom” when I took either child in for shots—they were usually happy and as babies, unsuspecting of what was going to take place.

Morgan, however, is not the least bit nervous about this shot…I will be there to hold her hand if she wants me to though.

I wonder if she’ll let me go shopping for school supplies with her? I’ll be sure to pick out a big box of crayons! 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Stormy Thoughts and Stormy Skies...and God's Promise

All of these pictures were taken outside of our home
this afternoon. The rainbow was much more
beautiful in "real life"! 

Stormy Thoughts and Stormy Skies…and 
God’s Promise

By Shelly Burke, Editor and Publisher, Nebraska Family Times, and author, Home is Where the Mom Is

As I pulled weeds this afternoon I had stormy thoughts. Too many friends are facing serious health problems and personal difficulties. I heard news that promises turmoil in my own family’s life over the next few months. There’s no way around these problems; our friends and our family will just have to go through them.

This afternoon we had a nice, much-needed rain shower. After the shower I went outside to see where the storm was moving. I was awed to see one of the most beautiful double rainbows I’ve ever seen. It stretched all the way across the sky and I could see the whole thing, which is very unusual.

Seeing the rainbow reminded me of God’s promise to Noah, as he and his family came out of the ark after the flood.

And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making
 between me and you…Whenever I bring clouds over the earth
and the rainbow appears in the clouds…I will remember my covenant
 between me and you…Never again will the waters become
 a flood to destroy all life.” Genesis 9:12-14

My friends and family and I are not facing a literal flood, of course. But the circumstances in each of our lives could be devastating. I was reminded of God’s promises to each of us; that He will walk beside us through any and all of the troubles we experience. That He is only a prayer away. And that, at the end of our lives, no matter how stormy, as believers we will spend eternity with Him! 

Thank You, Lord, for reminding me of Your promises to each of us. We are not alone; You are always with us. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Not Written in Cement

Not Written in Cement
by Shelly Burke, author of Home is Where the Mom Is; A Christian Mom's Guide to Caring for Herself, Her Family, and Her Home, and Editor and Publisher of the Nebraska Family Times

(image from Google Images)
I love summer! It’s great to have a “break” from the regular routine and schedule. When our kids were in grade-school, I made summer goals for them, as well as a schedule for our days. If we didn’t have some sort of schedule we didn’t accomplish anything, and while that’s ok once in awhile, it was still important to do things like chores around the house and nap (or rest) time.

Making summer goals was important to us too! I knew that if we didn’t consciously make and write down goals, we wouldn’t accomplish them. Most of the goals were “fun” things; going to the zoo, eating ice cream at the park, or watching the fireflies after dark (for more suggestions for summer fun, go to "Zoo...and Other Ideas for Summer Fun"  . I added a few practical goals, too, like teaching Cody and Morgan the basics of cooking and laundry, practicing math skills at the grocery store, and reading every day.

While you’re making your summer schedule and goals, remember that they don’t have to be perfect the first time! It’s better to get started with some sort of schedule than to not have a schedule for most of the summer as you’re trying to make the “perfect” schedule. And it’s better to start a list of goals and fun things to do and accomplish at least some of them, than to not make a goal list at all.

Look at your schedule as a suggested way to spend time—not as an iron-clad “we must do this at exactly this time.” Remember to have fun—even if that means staying up way past bedtime to look at the stars or missing a nap to see out-of-town friends who are visiting. Be flexible and willing to change what isn’t working. It’s not written in cement!

Be flexible with your goals, too. If missing naps to take part in the summer reading program makes the rest of the day miserable for a tired child and everyone he is around, create your own summer reading program at home. If an opportunity for a fun all-day event comes up, skip naps that day!

What are your summer goals, for yourself or for your kids? How does your schedule change in the summer?

“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.” Proverbs 16:3

(I’m also blogging at Nebraska Family Times.
Check out the post today, titled “Tired of Enduring.”)

Monday, May 7, 2012

A Mother's Reflection on the Final Judgement

(In honor of Mother's Day next Sunday, I'm reprinting this. A stage of motherhood is coming to an end, for me, as our daughter graduates from high school next week and will be going to college in the fall. I'll post more reflections on motherhood at a later date. This week will be spent making mints (I borrowed a cow mint from a friend!), finding pictures, writing thank-you notes to the administration and teachers at Lakeview high school and doing a long list of related graduation and graduation party errands. It will be a wonderful week, especially seeing my parents and one of my sisters and her family! (See for the "controversy" regarding the prayer at graduation at Lakeview.) May God bless all mothers!) 

A Mother’s Reflection on the Final Judgment
(received via internet)

For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat;
I was thirsty and you gave Me a drink;
I was a stranger and you let Me in;
I needed clothes and you clothed Me;
I was sick and you looked after Me;
I was in prison and you came to visit Me.
            Matthew 25:35-26

“When Lord? When were You hungry and I fed You?”
            “How could you ask that, you of the 3 million peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, the 100 ways to fix hamburger—which could have been steak if you hadn’t been feeding Me?”

“But thirsty, Lord?”
            “I was in the lemonade line that came in with the summer heat and flies, and left mud on your floors and fingerprints on your walls, and you gave Me a drink.”

“But naked Lord? And homeless?”
            I was born naked and homeless. You sheltered Me, first in your womb, and then in your arms, and clothed Me with your love (and spent the next 20 years struggling to pay the mortgage, the fuel bills, and keep Me in jeans).”

“Oh, Lord, but I never knew I visited You in prison. I’ve never been in a prison.”
            “Oh, yes, you were. For I was imprisoned in my littleness, behind the bars of my crib, and I cried in the night and you came. I was imprisoned inside a 12-year old body that was exploding with so many emotions I no longer knew who I was, and you loved Me into being Myself. I was imprisoned behind my teenage rebellion, my anger, my stereo set, and you came and sat by the wall of My hostility, took the abuse I heaped upon you, and waited in love for Me to open the door.”

“Now, enter into the kingdom of My Father, prepared for you since the foundation of the world.” 

Friday, May 4, 2012

Children in Church

Children in Church
By Shelly Burke, Editor and Publisher, Nebraska Family Times

I think every parent has had an “embarrassing child moment” in church. I remember Cody’s first Christmas Eve service. He was only 5 weeks old and he was not happy to be in church. I took him to the cry room no less than 4 times during that service (it’s one of my favorite services of the year and I desperately wanted to be in church with my family and church friends). He was crying so loud that people in church were turning around to look at us behind the glass walls of the cry room.

I can laugh about it now…but it wasn’t funny at the time. Whenever my kids were loud in church (or just made a tiny bit of noise) I just knew that everyone was looking at me and mentally “tsk-ing” me because my kids were so obviously completely out of control because I was a terrible mother (yes, I tend to blow things up sometimes, especially when it comes to being a mom!).

 I think the disciples were probably “tsk-ing” the mothers who brought their children to Jesus, as recounted in Matthew 19, which says, Then little children were brought to Jesus for Him to place His hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked those who brought them. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”” Jesus clearly wanted the children to be close to Him.

And He wants to see children in church today, too! Moms, bring your kids to church—even if they do make noise! Experiment with the service you go to, where you sit, and how you prepare your kids for church. They will naturally be less likely to sit if they are very tired or hungry. Some kids pay attention better if they sit close to the front—where the action in church is. Some kids will be distracted with toys or books; some parents prefer to teach their children to listen and take part in the service. Your techniques will probably change as your kids get older—figure out what works for you and your family!

And now an important word for church members who don’t have kids or whose kids are grown: Remember what Jesus said; “Let the little children come to me.” In many churches the families with young kids sit toward the back of the church. If you don’t enjoy the sounds of children, sit somewhere else! And please refrain from giving parents whose kids are making noise a dirty look or telling them their kids should be quiet. It’s hard enough to be a mom, trying to do the right thing by taking kids to church, and a nasty comment or dirty look is demoralizing and discouraging.

Instead, offer a patient smile that says, “It’s OK—I know what it’s like to have kids in church and don’t mind a little noise a bit.” Better yet, encourage parents who bring their kids to church! Say, “It’s great to see your kids in church. I know it’s not always easy to bring them, but you are doing the right thing.”

A few years ago, during a baptism at our church, a sibling of the child who was being baptized made a huge fuss when her parents and new brother were in the front of the church during the baptism. The little girl wiggled out of the arms of her aunt and began running around the area where the baptism was being done. The mom looked embarrassed and mortified. After church I witnessed an older lady of the church, who the mom clearly didn’t know, say to the mom, We love children in this church, and we love to see and even hear them. Your family is beautiful!” And I could see on the mom’s face that this made a huge difference in how she would remember the day. Be the person who gives families a positive feeling about having their children in church!

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up…” 1 Thess. 5:11

How do (or did) you encourage your kids to sit quietly in church?