"Extra! Extra! Read all about it!"

Welcome to our "DRM Extra" page.  Here you will find news from around the Driftless Regional Ministry churches as it becomes available!  Often times we have important announcements and news to share just after we publish a newsletter.  So rather than wait several weeks until the next newsletter is published, we created this page to keep everyone informed on the latest news.  In addition to the announcements, we will also publish other special articles including "Reminders" by Ardith Hoff - Westby Times contributor & Westby UMC member.  If you have any questions or have some news you would like to contribute, please send us an e-mail at info@driftlessministry.org.


Faith Fest is coming!

Women of faith are very excited about our upcoming Faith Fest. Our music director, Ron Willis, has been very busy and has secured fantastic music again this year.  Performing will be J.P. Olson, Eric Nofsinger, Stuart Thayer, Tor Eness and friends, Ron Willis and Judy Herr with the Gospel Strings. If you haven’t had the priviledge of listening to J.P., you are in for an additional treat. J.P. has shared the stage with Charlie Pride, Billy Ray Cyrus, Willie Nelson, Wynonaa Judd, Ronnie Millsap, Michael Bolton, Etta James, the late Phyllis Hyman as well as others too profuse to mention.  We are thrilled to have J.P. Olson, Eric Nofsinger  Fiddle/Acoustical guitar and Stuart Thayer on the piano in addition to our dear friends, Ron Willis, Judy Herr and the Gospel Strings and Tor Eness and friends who always do a fantastic job.  Along with music there will be a raffle for a 55 inch Philips flat screen TV (Each ticket is $5 or five for $20). There will also be a Chinese auction with loads of new items donated by area businesses, and games and crafts for kids. Tickets for the Chinese auction, games and crafts are $1 each or six for $5. And, of course, let’s not forget about the food (free will offering).
Women of faith hope you can join us for a great day of music and fun. 

New Hope Food Pantry Receives Donation

On Wednesday, December 6th, the New Hope UMC Food Pantry in rural De Soto received a wonderful Christmas blessing!  The food pantry was presented with a $1000 check from the Vernon Communications Cooperative to aid in the fight against hunger in the Driftless Region.  The donation was a part of Vernon Communications' annual "Season of Giving" campaign through which they make $1000 donations to various food pantries across their service area.  This year's recipients included food pantries at: Bethel Butikk (in Westby), Cashton Cupboard & Closet, La Farge Free Methodist, Living Faith (in Viroqua), New Hope & Viola United Methodist.  The funds that the New Hope UMC Food Pantry received are greatly appreciated by everyone who walks through the doors of the pantry and will greatly help the mission.  Thank you Vernon Communications Cooperative!

The food pantry at the New Hope UMC also receives extra blessings from surrounding congregations during this time of the year.  Recently, members of the Freeman Lutheran Church (rural Ferryville) donated 957 pounds of turkeys and hams to the food pantry to be distributed to area families during the Thanksgiving holiday.  Other area congregations also help the pantry by collecting donations as their monthly or quarterly missions.  So while the food pantry is based in the New Hope UMC, it is empowered by many others to amplify it's reach across southwestern Vernon and northwestern Crawford counties.  Thank you to everyone who supports the New Hope UMC Food Pantry through your prayers, donations, and hard work!  Together, we are making an impact in the fight against hunger right here in the Driftless Region!

Special Articles

Reminders: The Coin Toss

by Ardith Hoff

One Sunday morning Jimmy was wondering why his friend Bobby was not at the game.  By the time Bobby arrived, the game was well under way. "Why are you so late?" asked Jimmy. "I couldn't decide between going to church and going to the game.  So, I tossed a coin," said Bobby. "But that shouldn't have taken that long." said Jimmy. "Well, I had to toss it 35 times."

We all have to make tough decisions. There are so many things to do, and so little time.  Sometimes we don’t seem to have a choice at all.  For kids it might be activity schedules that adults have already decided for them.  For adults it might be work schedules that keep them from going to church.  Other times it is just too hard to decide what is most important, even when we have a choice.  No one should be made to feel guilty if they actually have no choice, but sometimes we might have more choices than we know.  The truth is, free will is a wonderful, God-given privilege.  The problem is that having free will means we must make choices.  We can flip a coin 35 times or we can make careful (prayerful) choices.  Just taking a few quiet moments to think through the alternatives, and to meditate on whether we really do have a choice can sometimes make a big difference in what choices get made.  Maybe there are things we can do to change work schedules, or we can find a different church service to attend at a more convenient time.  Maybe it is just a matter of changing our priorities.

There is a story about a boss who seemed very wise, and one day, during an interview in his office he was asked, "Sir, what is the secret of your success?" He said, "Two words." "And, Sir, what are they?" "Right decisions." "But how do you make right decisions?" "One word." He responded. "And, sir, what is that word?" "Experience." "And how do you get Experience?" "Two words." "And, Sir, what are they?" "Wrong decisions." 

Reminders: The Way It was Supposed to Be

by Ardith Hoff

A young Christian man was working for a large corporation where he saw a lot of unscrupulous behavior that he didn’t want to be a part of.  He quit his job, withdrew his savings and moved back to his hometown. After he had been there a while, looking for a new job, he found out that his widowed mother was dying.  He suddenly realized that he was free to take care of her.  He had been so busy making a living that he had not spent much time with her in recent years.  He was grateful to have a chance to spend time with her before she passed away.  He was amazed that things had worked out so perfectly.  Was it coincidence or was it God’s plan all along? It seems like it all happened, just the way it was supposed to.

How many times have things turned out differently than you had planned yet better than you could have imagined?  It’s hard to believe that God has the time to get involved in the lives of ordinary individuals.  It seems reasonable that He would be way too busy with the big problems of the world to be concerned about the little problems we encounter in our daily lives.  Yet, somehow we often find ourselves, seemingly by coincidence, in the right place at the right time.  After the occasion is over we often think that we have somehow, accidentally done the right thing, when actually it might have been God’s plan.  There is a saying that captures this concept, “Coincidence is just God performing miracles and choosing to remain anonymous.”  Another saying reminds us that, “Our worst days are not beyond the reach of God’s grace, and our best days are not beyond the need of God’s grace.”  In other words, if we invite God into our lives, we should not be surprised if He is present when we need Him, even when we don’t realize what we need.  We should thank God for what we have, and trust Him for what we need, even when we don’t know what those needs might be.    Numbers 6:24 God said, “Behold, I am with you always, and will keep you wherever you go…” 

Reminders: What Does It Mean?

by Ardith Hoff

A man stood up at a prayer meeting to give his testimony.  He said that as a young man he had been down on his luck.  He was recently divorced, he lost his job and was homeless.  He was down to his last dollar.  He decided to go to church to ask for God’s help.  The sermon that Sunday was on stewardship.  The pastor talked on, “the widow’s mite”, the parable about the widow who gave everything she had to the Lord.  The man said that he was so impressed with the sermon that he put his last dollar in the collection plate.  He went on to say that as soon as he left the church that day he was offered a job.  He took the job, worked his way up in the company and eventually bought the company.  He was now a multi-millionaire.  He finished by saying, “That’s what can happen when you give everything you have to the Lord.”  Everyone applauded, except for one little old lady who was sitting beside the man.  When he sat down, she leaned over and said, “I dare you to do it again.”

Most church goers try to do their best to support the work of the church by giving what they can.  Many people tithe (give ten percent of their income). Beyond that, many church members give generously to other worthy causes.  Few give all they have because they have to use most of their income to support themselves and their families.  So, what does it mean to give one’s all to God?  There may be many different answers to that question.  Each person must make his or her own decision about that.  Here are a couple of examples of how others have answered: “I am only one, but I am one.  I cannot do everything, but I can do something.  And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.” —Edward Everett Hale

“I have one life, and one chance to make it count for something My faith demands that I do whatever I can, wherever I am, whenever I can, for as long as I can with whatever I have to try to make a difference.” ––Jimmy Carter