To all my friends and followers living in the United States of America, I wish you a wonderful Fourth of July (Independence Day, if you want to be formal).
While there are certainly reasons for concern, worry, and even complaint, we do live in a wonderful country. We enjoy wide-ranging freedoms, abound in opportunities, and—despite the naysayers—reside in prosperity.
I’m glad to be a citizen of the United States of America and pleased to live in this amazing nation. I thank our forefathers who made this all possible and salute them for their foresight and sacrifices to form our country.
Like other holidays with historical religious meaning, Easter has been significantly skewed by both custom and commercialization. Over time, the risen savior has been superseded by bunnies and eggs (reportedly symbols of fertility).
Notwithstanding, Easter egg hunts and chocolate candies of all variations are delightful traditions—as long as the true focus of Easter is retained.
One such staple of Easter tradition in our household is peeps—those mouth-watering creations of colored marshmallow and sugar. There is often debate as to the optimum timing in the consumption of these delectable treats: fresh or aged. I prefer my peeps to be aged in order to maximize my noshing enjoyment.
As most peep connoisseurs know, there are two methods of aging peeps. The preferred, yet painfully slow method is to leave them packaged in a dark place. Using this approach, aging takes between 6 to 12 months. The other technique is to remove them from their package so that they may “air age.” Though this takes only days, great caution must be exercised to protect them from environmental elements.
We just recently celebrated St. Patrick’s Day. Though most view it as a secular holiday, the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day has a religious origin. This has been lost over time, with his work and accomplishments having been long forgotten by most people.
After embarking on your favorite St. Patrick’s Day rituals and routines, don green attire, or imbibe in adult beverages of questionable coloration, let’s have a quick review. But, don’t worry; you will not be tested on this material.
Ringing in the New Year often marks a time for making resolutions. CommonNew Year’s resolutions include losing weight, saving money, studying more, finding a better job, improving a relationship, being kinder or more generous, drinking less, and so on.
Usually these well-intentioned resolutions are short-lived. Aside from being vague and difficult to determine success, I think the problem is we set ourselves up for failure. Let’s assume I step on the scale in September and realize I need to lose weight. But I’ll wait and make a New Year’s resolution to drop the extra pounds. Since this idea lives in the future, I don’t need to worry about it now; I can continue eating as I always have. In four months I’ll focus on weight loss, but for now, don’t worry.
This gives me four months to further instill my bad habits. Additionally, knowing that in the future I’ll need to be more careful with what I eat, emboldens me to eat poorly now, while I still have the chance. This only makes the problem worse, resulting in more weight to lose later. A much better approach is to begin losing weight right away and not delay.
Instead of waiting until January first to change a habit, introduce a new one, or remove a bad one, why not make changes as soon as the opportunity arises? Why accumulate a list of resolutions for the start of a new year? Instead, make incremental improvements throughout the year.
If you made a New Year’s resolution, I wish you success. And if you forgot, don’t wait until 2020. Begin making changes right away. Any day is a great day to start improving your life.
So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
(Luke 2:1-14 — NKJV)
Wordsmith Peter DeHaan is a magazine publisher by day and a writer by night.
Ten years ago, the economy wasn’t looking good, the markets were in the pits, and there was general concern about the future. Given all this, it was easy to be self-focused and forget about other people and their circumstances.
Every major city has organizations and outreach programs to help these people—and that is good. However, these groups continue to address people who need their help, which means that they need our help. If you can make a donation, now is the time to do so. If a monetary gift isn’t possible, then give of your time. With people in need, they are in need for volunteers. Of course, you can give both your time and your money.
As the holiday season approaches, the spirit of giving and sharing typically increases. Please do what you can to help, but just remember that the homeless don’t only need help at Thanksgiving and Christmas, but the year around.
I hope you enjoy the holidays—and can help others do the same.
Although I avoid making New Year’s resolutions, I do set annual goals. What’s the difference? Maybe nothing; maybe everything. To me, resolutions are akin to wishful thinking, with low expectations for success. Goals are concrete, with stated action and quantifiable results.
I don’t think I’ve ever made a New Year’s resolution. If I discover something about myself I want to change, I set about making the adjustment right away. Delaying change until January first makes no sense.
However, every year I do set annual goals. I write them down and may even share them with friends. Throughout the year, I work towards achieving those goals. Sometimes my goals morph into something else and other times they become irrelevant along the way, but I take each one as far as I can by December 31.
At the end of each year, I look back with a sense of accomplishment over the goals I’ve reached, while not wallowing in remorse over the ones I’ve missed. Never once have I achieved every annual goal and never once have I failed at them all.
This year was a rough year. Life took an unexpected turn soon after the New Year began, and my goals necessarily assumed a lessor priority. Even though it was one of my worst showings ever, I still accomplished two of my six goals.
However, other people shun goal setting, but they always make New Year’s resolutions. Just as I dismiss resolutions, they dismiss goals with equal disdain. Just as I embrace goals, they embrace resolutions with equal fervor.
Maybe the difference between goal setting and resolutions is just semantics, but maybe the difference is one of substance. I don’t know.
We’ve had a beautiful week here in southwest Michigan, with record highs in the low 80s for the past two days. As a consequence, I’ve been hit hard with a case of spring fever. The last remaining pile of snow has melted — it was a huge pile, which only succumbed a couple of days ago — and spring flowers are displaying their colors. The grass is greening up and soon it will be time to mow lawn.
The high temps, however, will wane a bit today, as a cool front is arriving. That should drive the temperatures down about 20 degrees to where they should be for this time of year.
Although it would be great to enjoy 80-degree sunshine tomorrow on Easter, I can accept the prediction of partly cloudy and 60. At least there won’t be any snow, which does happen for some Easters in our clime.
Where ever you may be, and whatever weather might be sent your way, have a Happy Easter!