By Cathy Leestma

Happy New Year! I believe all of us are hoping the weather in our region during 2019 will be kinder and gentler.

Our extended communities over the past three years have survived a 30 day firestorm, numerous water related events that have cause major flooding and wrecked havoc, and just recently an Armageddon snow and ice storm.

It makes you want to shout, “Enough already!” And while we certainly are not the only ones challenged by Mother Nature’s wrath (Florida’s Red Tide and California’s deadly wildfires come to mind), we have experienced it firsthand.

And so it seems, our response must be: Be prepared! We are blessed by first responders who are on call 24/7 when these events are bearing down on us. So many of these folks are volunteers. This community is fortunate in so many ways, but without a doubt, it is the quality of folks who have lived here for generations or who move here and choose to get involved that ranks #1. This is a small community but we are a strong community who works for the betterment of each other. Thank you, first responders, fire, EMT, police and community folks. We are grateful for you.

Now about going deeper…Years ago I was working with the Salvation Army in Oakland, California with homeless families. A master gardener friend helped us create a raised bed garden for the children to work on. We planted strawberries (a big hit) pole beans, lettuce, carrots and radishes. We dug deep to mix the soil with the fertilizer. Each child was given the opportunity to water for a while using a hose. It seemed to me that we had gone overboard with the watering, I mean we seemed to have completely drenched the bed. My friend took a spade and dug deep. Sure enough there was dry ground, a disaster for the tender roots.

We all have this New Year before us. It is a good thing to take some quiet moments this winter and focus on areas of our lives where we want to really dig down and find the nourishment we desire and the changes we truly want to make. As a person of faith, I call this living for an audience of One. It is only in the quiet moments when there is no audience except yourself and God, where you can examine your path on life’s road and make lasting changes.

In just a year, we will be in the year 2020 as in 20/20 vision. When you have 20/20 vision, it’s pretty near as perfect as the human eye can get. In 1998, I had laser surgery on of my eyes to improve, what was then very poor vision. The day after the surgery, we were sitting at the breakfast table and I began to read the small print on the back page of the newspaper David was reading some four feet across from me. That decision to have the laser surgery still reaps benefits today.

 The New Year is upon us. It is my hope that the weather will be kind and whatever changes we personally make will be an encouragement to those around us. 20/20 vision is only good if you look for the best in others. Happy New Year!