FARGO — Having written a weekly column for three years now, I have learned a lot about the process. Some weeks the topic and content comes very quickly. I love those weeks. There have been a number of times when I have even written two or three columns at a time. That is even better. Often, though, I wrestle with what to write about.

I do truly think about you, the reader, as I pick a topic, especially as I meet more people who faithfully read this column. I do not take this responsibility lightly. I’ve heard from a number of people how timely a given topic was to them. I thank God for that. My desire is to be helpful.

I grew up a pessimist by nature but have worked very hard at being an optimistic person; believing the best in people, living with high anticipation for the future and gratitude for all that God has done. And also, being honest with how challenging life can be. There is heartache, hurt and disappointment in life. There is conflict and misunderstanding. Many people are overwhelmed and underappreciated. So, my goal for writing has always been to be helpful; to teach, to encourage, to share Godly wisdom, and to fuel positive change and growth in your life. Ultimately, to point people to God and his word, the true difference makers in this journey.

Perhaps it is because I am getting older, being 53, that I see this wonderful connectedness to life. I suppose you can outrun a lot of things, but you cannot outrun your character. Who you are, how you treat people, and how you look at life comes back to you in waves. And who your family (parents, grandparents, siblings, spouse, kids) are also reflects back on you in various ways. We seem to “worship” individualization more and more in our society, but we are connected as humans. What am I doing with this opportunity to be a blessing and to be blessed? How about you?

In January, I am taking a group of 20 people on a 10-day tour of Israel. None of them have gone before. I’ve gone once, in January of 2019. My plan is to continue taking groups each January, Lord willing. I am nervous to take a group for the first time. I know what the trip did for me and I want them to experience whatever God has for them.

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In preparation for the trip we are reading through the four books in the Bible written about the life of Jesus (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John). It seems to me that once a year to read these four books would be very helpful. Annual trips to Israel will make this a yearly habit for me.

Over and over Jesus focused on two things: teaching and meeting the practical, tangible needs of people (in his case it was often physical healing). His goal was to bring spiritual healing and hope and to equip leaders to carry on his character and grow his Father’s Kingdom. Is this a way you and I can bless others? What if we focus on meeting the practical, tangible needs of people and through honest conversation share wisdom God has taught us; no hidden agendas but a desire to be helpful.