The (Real) Christmas Story

Written by Dan Seaborn on . Posted in Local

dan seabornDon't let the title fool you. This article isn't about BB guns, Chinese food, or someone's tongue getting stuck on a metal pole. I'd like to talk about the real Christmas story. The one about Jesus.

The story of Mary and Joseph is incredible for a number of reasons. For example, consider how Mary finds out that she is going to have a baby. She's visited by an angel of the Lord who reveals that she will become pregnant through a divine action. She's only about 13 years old and is engaged to Joseph who is probably in his late teens. Joseph learns about the pregnancy but initially he doesn't know about the spiritual intervention.

Therefore, he thinks Mary's been unfaithful to him because he knows he's not been with her. He's left with a tough decision to make. If he accepts Mary's pregnancy, the community will say that he's broken the law by sleeping with her prior to marriage. If he publicly divorces her, he runs the risk that she'll be stoned to death for adultery. Out of compassion, he considers divorcing her privately and not making it a public issue. While he is contemplating his decision, he is also visited by an angel of the Lord who tells Joseph he should go through with the wedding and not be afraid.

Bout With Brain Cancer Kindles New Mission: ‘I Shall Not Die But Declare the Works of the Lord’

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

Donna Hill Cutline No. 1-1“There’s power when people are connected by similar circumstances. We give Scripture and encouraging words to each other.” There was a time when Donna Hill was tentative talking to strangers about Christ. A bout with brain cancer that kindled a deeper move of the Holy Spirit has engendered her with a new mission.

"I have a testimony now that's great and I'm not ashamed to share it with people who will listen," said Hill, 68. "If I see someone who doesn't have hair (because of chemotherapy treatments), I'm not intimated to go up to them. I just share how God got me through my battle and He can get them through it too, and one of these days they'll have hair again just like me."

Hill initially assumed she had suffered a stroke in March 2015 when her husband of 48 years, Ron, drove her to Mercy Health Southwest Campus (formerly St. Mary's) in Byron Center.

Instead, she was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma that resulted in a malignant tumor confined only in her brain.

New Music Review: "Give It Up"

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

Jeremy Hoekstra Give it Up EP CoverJeremy Hoekstra has a new seven-song collection centered on a theme of finding God's grace anew by letting go and looking beyond temporal circumstances. The collection is aptly titled "Give It Up."

Hoekstra, contemporary worship director at First Evangelical Covenant Church in Grand Rapids, features pop-rock settings for his inspirational lyrics. Some of the words are directly addressed to God, carrying Psalm-like strains of worship.

The highlight there is "Your Love." Beginning at a slower tempo, the song builds to an anthem-esque climax before offering its final, simple prayer, "Lead me out of darkness into your great light."

Hudsonville Christian School Marks 100th Year With Bright Future

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

Hudsonville Christian School Cutline No. 1Superintendent Dan Pott stands among artifacts collected in Hudsonville Christian School’s 10-decade history. Hudsonville Christian School (HCS) is in the throes of celebrating its 100th year of educating students from a Reformed perspective. Enrollment numbers and parents' comments indicate the preschool through 8th school's future will continue to shine brightly, said Superintendent Dan Pott.

"There's a real resurgence in people wanting a Christian education," said Pott. "We want to be an academic school and we want to be a school that does best practices, but we also want to make sure this is distinctively Christian."

Grant and Smith Together Again for Holiday Season

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

Michael W Smith-Amy Grant Christmas 20172Michael W Smith and Amy Grant team up for a Christmas tour. Singer-songwriter Amy Grant says her Christmas tour with fellow artist Michael W. Smith is a combination of numerous elements that bring the holiday season together.

"It's not artist-focused, it's message-focused," said Grant during a phone interview before a tour performance in Kennewick, Wash. "There's something about these Christmas concerts that is very galvanizing as the audience connects with each other and with the people on stage."

Local Author Addresses Social Issues Through Animals in Her New Books

Written by Hannah VanKampen on . Posted in Local

Dawn-34Dawn M. Thompson, author of Barnyard Bully, Double Trouble, and the upcoming Sedwick the Seagull—scheduled for release in early 2018—has been writing since she was young. "I began writing as a child," Thompson said. "It was something I loved, and something I felt God wanted me to do."

Even though she had been writing for so long, Thompson didn't publish anything until Barnyard Bully in 2016. Thompson said she would get 90 percent of the way through a project and then move on to something new. After attending writers conferences she decided to begin looking into marketing and self publishing. She learned a lot from the internet—and from self-published author friends who made mistakes for Thompson to learn from—and published Barnyard Bully.

Model and Local Author Create New Book that Addresses Core Issues Women Face

Written by Ann Byle on . Posted in Local

Reitz YouAreBeautiful HCAshley Reitz seemed to have it all: an active modeling career, traveling all over the world, and starring on FOX's reality television show Coupled. But for this "curve model," it wasn't enough.

Now Reitz reveals her life-long struggle with body image, self doubt and insecurity in her new book "You Are Beautiful: A Model Makeover from Insecure to Confident in Christ," recently released by FaithWords.

"When I was in high school, there were certain themes that kept popping up in my life, things I struggled with. I felt God tugging on my heart and felt I'd go into women's ministry at some point in my life," said Reitz, who is moving from Florida back to Michigan, where she grew up, this month.

Lakeshore Author Pens, Illustrates Christmas Picture Book

Written by Hannah VanKampen on . Posted in Local

snowglobeCatie Cordero is many things: chicken owner, blogger, fiction writer, mom, wife, actress. With the release of her new book comes another title: children's book author. The Magic Snow Globe is a children's picture book about Willow and Wendell Potter and their journey of discovery of what Christmas is really about.

Cordero was inspired to write The Magic Snow Globe by the rise of the internet and smartphones, and the effect of both on kids' imaginations.

"I see a trend happening where young children are on their phones or tablets and are constantly bombarded by technology. Whatever happened to people just reading?" Cordero said. She made this observation many times, to which her husband responded, "What are you going to do about it?" Thus, The Magic Snow Globe was born.

A Time to Say Thanks

Written by Dan Seaborn on . Posted in Local

dan seabornA few years ago many retailers started the tradition of opening their doors on Thanksgiving. Black Friday was no longer enough of a jump start on holiday profits. These stores offer such magnificent deals that even the most loyal Thanksgiving proponents consider sneaking away for a chance to buy that big screen TV at a ridiculously low price. Every year it seems a petition goes around on Facebook to stop these retailers, but so far that has not been successful.

I'm not writing this article to settle any debates, but rather my goal is to talk about the meaning of this day for you and your family. Maybe it will help you decide whether you should shop till you drop or give in to a tryptophan-induced nap on Thanksgiving Day.

“It’s Beginning to Sound A Lot Like…….”

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

Hark Up Horns Big BandThe Hark Up Horns Big Band It's time again for our annual Christmas concert preview. And as usual there are plenty of seasonal events to choose from.

The "season" actually backs up into November, but this listing will concentrate on those which actually occur in December.

The month starts up with a blast from "Hark Up" with four performances Fri-Sun Dec. 1-3 at DeVos Center for Arts and Worship at Grand Rapids Christian High School.

Safe Haven Ministries Expands Role in Battling Domestic Abuse

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

Executive Director Megan HopkinsExecutive director Megan Hopkins displays a rendering of Safe Haven Ministries’ future facility. Safe Haven Ministries (SHM) has provided a refuge for women and children who've fallen prey to domestic abuse for nearly 30 years.

Building on its wide-ranging approach to solving emotional, spiritual, physical and financial abuse and sexual assault are new initiatives intended to amplify its capacity to provide hope and healing to those maltreated.

New executive director

Megan Hopkins was tapped as SHM's new executive director, a role she's held as interim executive director since May.

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