Better Life Church to breathe life back into iconic Newaygo eatery
Cronk’s restaurant was known for putting out a sumptuous salad bar and buffet as well as serving as a primary location for political discourse on most mornings.The longtime Newaygo landmark, closed since the early days of the pandemic, will soon be seeing some action beyond the occasional food truck visit.
Better Life Church, new to our area, will be holding services at the site beginning Sunday January 9th at 10:30am.
Co-pastors Clint and Michelle Abbot will be conducting the services and the church will also provide Better Life For Kids with services designed for children up to 5th grade.
We posed a few questions regarding their new initiative.
N3-How did the church get started? Has it been meeting in a temporary site prior to making this move?
My wife and I hosted a couple of "New Church Interest" meetings at our home. We had about 20 people express interest and from that point we began the organization process.
We held "launch team" meetings in our home for 3 months preparing for a January 9th launch or opening day.
N3-How long has BLC been meeting locally?
3 months with training and preparation for the January 9, 2022 opening day.
N3-How many members?
We have about 25 on our launch team.
N3-There are a couple of mega churches in Kentucky with the same name. Any affiliation?
No affiliation. We are non denominational. We freely connect with ARC (Association of Related Churches, a non denominational church planting organization) because we believe in planting churches in the US and abroad.
N3-How did the name come about?
Michelle and I believe God is leading us to plant a life giving church, filled with the Spirit of God. That we believe is the vision God has called us to.
This vision becomes alive when we help people realize the words of Jesus in John 10:10, “The thief has come to kill and destroy but I have come that you might have it abundantly (better).”
Michelle and I know what it’s like to live apart from the presence and blessings of God. But we have witnessed Him taking the two of us, who were literally kids when we married and the cards stacked against us, and blessing us over and over again the more that we trusted Him.
Despite the situations that life “could throw” at our and our marriage, we believe that the life we have with Jesus is better than if we had never trusted. Further, we believe the best is yet to come.
Yet, so many people settle for less because they listen to what I call “the voice of less.” We believe in that verse that Jesus wants to speak and be “the voice of more” in people’s lives.So that’s why we believe God has birthed this vision of Better Life Church in our hearts. We truly want others to enjoy this abundant or better life as we have and that they might also realize, with Jesus as their Savior, the best is yet to come.
N3-Tell us a little about yourselves
We have been married 48 years, have 3 sons, 1 daughter in-law, 2 grandsons and a granddaughter. We have been in church work for over 45 years (volunteer youth ministry, children's ministry and the past 30 years in vocational pastoral ministry). We have served in existing churches and planted churches. (We planted the New Community Church of Newaygo 25 years ago).
We are native to Newaygo, having grown up here and lived here much of our lives. For the past 13 years (2006-2019) we were in the Kentwood/Caledonia area serving in pastorates. We returned to Newaygo the summer of 2019 for family reasons and felt the leading of the Lord this past fall to plant a new, life giving church in the Newaygo area.
God's providence! It was available and the Lord just provided the timing to be right.
N3-Why should people come to BLC?
There are many good churches in our area. We desire to partner with them to reach more people for Jesus. If everyone in Newaygo County wanted to attend a church on a given Sunday, there's not enough seating capacity for them. I believe that our Lord desires His house to be full. We are happy to partner with others and reach as many people as possible for Christ. Another reason people should come (and quite unique with our ministry) is our purpose: to help people know God, find freedom, discover their purpose and to make a difference in the world. We have an intentional pathway I call our Growth Track that makes that possible.
N3-Will there be any COVID protocols?
No, we allow individuals the freedom to decide what is best for themselves.
For more information you can visit their website at www.betterlifepeople.com
“The dog is a gentleman; I hope to go to his heaven not man's.”- Mark Twain
By Ken De Laat
Deputy Dawg was one of the Terrytoons cartoons that I used to try watching on Saturday mornings while my Mom ran the vacuum between the couch and TV set. At the time I thought it a coincidence how that section of the house needed vacuuming…a lot of vacuuming…on Saturday mornings but in retrospect it tended to drive me outside which I now believe was the overall purpose of the task.
But speaking of deputized dogs the County Sheriff’s Office is mourning the loss of a real life deputy dog, the ace tracker and drug sniffing canine DAK.
“It is with heavy hearts that we inform you of the passing of one of our beloved department canines, Deputy DAK, who passed away this morning after battling a degenerative spinal disorder.
“As an agency, we are heartbroken, DAK was a partner to his handler and an incredibly special member of our Agency. We will forever be grateful for the service he provided to Newaygo County.
“Deputy DAK has been with the NCSO since 2015 as a narcotics and tracking K9. DAK had assisted agencies in Newaygo County and agencies throughout Western Michigan. Please keep DAK and his handler Sgt Bailey and his family in your thoughts and prayers.”
Bob Mendham, Sheriff
A painful loss to be sure.
Dr. Lori Tubergen Clark departs NC RESA at year’s end.
Dr. Clark has been a leader in every sense of the word during her tenure. She has been unafraid to make tough decisions when necessary and has consistently been a team player when it comes to ways of benefiting the students and families of our county. I have had the privilege of getting to know her professionally over the years and retain the utmost respect for her breadth of knowledge, her willingness to work for positive change and her passion for education. Having begun her career in the classroom Dr. Clark has never lost sight of what it is like on the front lines of teaching, knowledge that often forged the decisions made as an administrator.
As she hands over the reins of the organization she has guided for more than a decade and begins to enjoy a bit of a well deserved retirement, there is an open house celebrating the event on Monday, the 20th from 3-5pm at the NC RESA ESC building.
Well done Dr. L-T-C.
I am certain you will rock the whole retirement thing with significant aplomb.
And we are likely not alone in being grateful for a bit of a holiday respite from the redundant and just plain tiresome signage that has long worn out its welcome among most members of the community.
We hope this trend continues and we hear more about business hours and specials than cynical character critiques and threadbare theories.
Time to revel Near Northians. The Holidays are indeed here.
Photo and article by Donna Iverson
Winter solstice is near, December 21 at 10:58 am to be exact. It is the shortest day of the year marking the astronomical beginning of winter. It also marks the change to longer daylight hours.
If you are sensitive to sunlight, you may have already noticed the daytime sun is lower in the sky. The sun is already setting later by a few minutes every day. A lot of people notice this seasonal change even if they aren’t consciously aware of it.
Ancient peoples were keenly aware of the seasonal change and they celebrated the solstice with bonfires, presents, and ritual gatherings. In England, they built Stonehenge to mark the passage of the sun, and in Peru, they constructed Machu Picchu.
In medieval times, Northern Europeans and especially Scandinavians celebrated Yuletide at the solstice. Early on, they would burn a whole tree, sticking the trunk in the fireplace. (Don’t try this at home ) In England, they burned oak or ash; in Scotland, birch; in France, cherry. And the French being the French, they poured wine on it first. The ashes of the Yule log were good for plants, a kinda instant compost. The mixture is known as potash.
Today, our Yule log is more likely to be a rolled chocolate sponge cake, filled with buttercream.
Celebrating the solstice continues in modern times. It is a way to honor our connection to the natural world. So come Tuesday morning, December 21, consider getting up at dawn to watch the sun rise. Light a candle to celebrate the sun and the lengthening of the day. And if there is a clear night sky, look for Jupiter and Saturn, which will cross paths in a sun “kiss,” the first in 800 years, forming a Christmas star.
State Sen. Jon Bumstead on Wednesday issued the following statement in response to legislation that passed yesterday in the Michigan Senate:
“I voted in favor of House Bill 5351 to increase the true cash value, from $80,000 to $180,000, of industrial and commercial personal property for which a taxpayer may claim a personal property tax (PPT) exemption because of the positive economic benefit that property owners would receive.
“I had initial concerns with this legislation and how the local tax collecting units would be reimbursed for the lost tax revenue. However, before casting my vote, I was assured that the state would hold our locals harmless.
“Yesterday evening, a $1.5 billion-dollar budget supplemental was brought before the Senate for a vote. Senate Bill 85 includes funding to hold locals harmless for the revenue shortfall they would see from the change in HB 5351. Unfortunately, this bill also contained $1 billion of unnecessary taxpayer handouts for large corporations, and I voted to oppose the supplemental. SB 85 ended up passing the Senate by a vote of 25 to 11.
“I fully support the concept of increasing the exemption to provide much-needed tax relief to our small businesses and intended to vote to ensure our local governments would not experience a shortfall. However, I could not support a budget bill where the government creates winners and losers by giving away taxpayer dollars for large corporate handouts.”
By Doug Harmon
With Mother Nature pulling back on the reins, approaching winter has slowed a bit. Almost a hint of Indian Summer, the old timers called it. An opportunity to still get out and enjoy the Beauty of Newaygo County and the Dragon Trail.
One day earlier this week found my wife, Holly and I hiking the section of trail from the Hardy Dam Marina to Sandy Beach and back. A quarter mile into the walk and after passing the Rob Slate tribute bridge, the sounds of automobiles faded away and we were left with the sounds of birds and fleeing deer, waving their white tails at us. Hardy pond is in a water drawdown, so if you've not seen this before, it's worth checking out.
Holly and I, along with many of our adopted dive family, have multiple dives on Scuba in Hardy Pond. We are always amazed by what we see under the water. Now, with the water level 12-15 feet lower than summer levels, many things appear that normally are hidden from view. Out of the depths, stumps, limbs, lost treasures and contraband appear. It's worth checking out.
So if I can do it, you can do it. I challenge you to turn off the TV, get out of the bean bag chair, put down the bag of Cheetos, and hit the trail. There is plenty of parking at the Marina trail head, along with a porta-potty, if needed. Our hike, round trip was 2.55 miles, according to my wife's fancy watch that talks to us, the same one that yells out, it's time to get up, you've been sitting too long.
O yea, time to hike that section, 1 hour 15 minutes. Degree of difficulty 1. So back to the challenge, go check it out, you'll enjoy a brief moment outside in our beautiful Newaygo County and you can boast you slayed the Dragon.
Churches and Non-Profits get Free LED “Fluorescent-type” Lights this Winter!
West Michigan congregations and other non-profits are saving energy and saving money on their utility bills with a free program called “Light the Way”. The non-profit organization Michigan Interfaith Power and Light (www.miipl.org) has partnered with Consumers Energy to provide the outreach for this free, valuable service.
“This is a free service that our utility companies are required to provide for their customers,” states Sally Wagoner, the local Outreach Specialist for the program. “Consumers Energy is doing more than its share to make sure this service is available to as many non-profits and houses of worship as possible before the end of this year.”
Light the Way includes an in-depth energy assessment walk through (in-person or virtual) of the facility, as well as free energy saving devices such as LED bulbs and fluorescent type lights, water saving faucets, smart thermostats and the like. The detailed Energy Assessment will then provide the church or non-profit a plan to increase their energy efficiency as they make future upgrades. Often there are rebates and other resources that are available to help cover costs.
“LED Fluorescent-type lights are a new part of the service, so even if a church or non-profit received a walk through assessment and free energy efficient products from Consumers Energy in the past, they are eligible to receive these new devices now,” continues Ms. Wagoner.
“Saving money on the increasing costs of utility bills is so important for our congregations and non-profits that provide needed services to our communities,” states Ms. Wagoner. “I am happy to help these organizations sign up for this amazing service,” adds Ms. Wagoner.
For information on how to sign up for Light the Way, contact Sally Wagoner: firstname.lastname@example.org, 231-245-6237. Michigan Interfaith Power and Light website has further details on this and other programs: www.miipl.org
By Tim McGrath
“The older I get, the less I enjoy being miserable.” – Cheryl McGrath
It starts the minute we make our grand entrance in the world. Somebody is forever laying loads of must-dos, have-tos, should-dos, don’t-you-dares on us.
From: “Put the seat down, and wash your hands; you weren’t born in a barn!” we hear as kids to, “You’re wearing that?” when dressing up for some important event. Admittedly, many of these must-dos, have-tos, should-dos, and don’t-you-dares make our lives better, no question. And, everyone knows we need rules and laws in a civil society: can’t have complete anarchy. That’s not the point. It’s the sheer volume of all these things over the course of life and how the buggers change. A continuously moving target that makes the rebel in us raise our fists in defiance. So, does it, will it, ever get any better? It depends…, maybe. Let’s see if we can find out. I’ll go first.
I grew up in a golden age to be a kid. When my pals and I were left to our own devices, which we were much of the time, we could create all kinds of adventures with imagination and not much else. New and ridiculous games were manufactured. Take golf, for example. We had one golf ball and somebody’s dad’s beat up old putter. No matter, it was a start. The only thing missing was the golf course. One afternoon we decided to create one: our very own four-hole gem in my backyard. There wasn’t much of a master course design in mind, but that didn’t seem to be of any concern. To ensure the ball actually got to the hole through the turf, though, one of us decided it’d be a great idea to dig a trench from the tee to the hole. As the day wore on, progress was rapid. By mid-afternoon, the course was finished, ready for play.
“Hey, do you think your mom will be mad we dug up your yard?” Ronnie asked as we surveyed our handiwork. Good question.
“Mom, can you come out and see something?” I asked. She put down whatever mom stuff she was doing and ventured out to the newly excavated backyard.
“Well, honey, what have you been making out here?”
“It’s a golf course, we just made it. Do you like it?” I asked.
“Very nice. Just put it all back when you’re finished,” was all she said.
That’s the way it was with quite a few things then. We were free range children, to a point.
Slingshot wars were OK, but BB gun shootouts were nixed after my brother got the bright idea to plug me in the rear end at close range over some grievance he had with me. Then there was the not-too-well-thought-out game of “chicken” that sprung up out of our collective group-think. Various moms in the neighborhood put the kibosh on ours when one of them saw what we were up to. This version required all interested parties to have a bow and arrow. Standing in a group, on the count of three, everyone shot an arrow straight into the air. The idea was not to look up to see the flight path. The first to look up was deemed “chicken”. Honestly, this one made me nervous. There were a few very close calls, yet no one ended up skewered. I think we were all grateful it ended.
In spite of our creativity and freedom, there were lots of must-dos, have-tos, should-dos, don’t-you-dares. These usually revolved around the premium placed on good behavior and conformity to the norms of the day. This also applied to all my friends, as well. Rebels need not apply.
“Good heavens, what would people think, for crying out loud?” was an exhortation heard frequently. This played out in how we dressed, acted in school and church, for example. Heaven help you if you got a note home from the teacher, or you weren’t paying attention during the sermon at church. Mom’s favorite ploy at church was to give the distracted child a sharp pinch. She’d have her arms folded as a warning. If that failed to get the offender’s attention, quick as lightning, she’d strike with a stealthy pinch to the fleshy side of the underarm. Those nails lay on some serious hurt. And, don’t even think about yelling out. The wrath of the Lord in real time.
Yet the rebel in me chafed at the incomprehensible things coming from the pulpit. I had to quickly learn to evade Mom’s hovering eye, so I invented an entire world of misadventures in my head, all the while looking like I was hanging on the preacher’s every word. It was an early version of ANL. (Active Non-Listening. See previous Random Bits for details)
Swearing was not tolerated, either. Again, with the, “What would people think?” standard attached. Even the words “poop” and “fart” were taboo. When actual cursing made it to our tender ears, usually from older siblings or their friends, and usually directed at us, it made for a real moral dilemma. We knew those were “bad words”, but boy oh boy, the power they had. In the end, it was just too much of a clarion call. Just be sure you know your audience. And, never, ever let your parents hear it. Because, after all….
As time passed, the things of childhood faded. All the goofy, silly, and dangerous things we invented morphed into the imposing rites of passage through high school and college.
The 1960’s-mid 1970’s was a weird time. So many changes everywhere. The Vietnam War, Watergate, the Kennedys, Woodstock, Black power, civil rights, the space race, the cold war, women’s lib. Yet, an evolving list of must-dos, have-tos, should-dos, don’t-you-dares remained solidly in place. One of the oddest things that came from that time was when it was deemed a good thing to allow 18-, 19-, and 20-year-old kids to drink. The logic at the time was if someone could now legally vote at 18, and serve their country in Vietnam, they should be allowed to legally drink. Seemed to make sense, until the people in charge realized too many 18 through 20-year-olds had no concept of moderation. Still remember kids in high school who had already turned 18 heading out for the pizza buffet at Village Inn on Fridays for lunch, grab a quick pitcher of suds, then return loaded to Chemistry lab. Never mind they had to drive there and back. Our poor Chemistry teacher, Mr. Blok, had enough trouble convincing us studying Molar concentrations was of infinite value in our lives as budding young chemists. Now add in a number of the class who were tending a beer buzz, or dozing off, and it did add another layer of difficulty in his life. It was easy to tell when he was getting miffed. His neck would turn bright red, the red would then slowly rise up his face until his entire head looked ready to explode. Reminded me of Elmer Fudd when Bugs had got the best of him again. In spite of my classmates’ shenanigans, though, I couldn’t wait to turn 18.
When the big day finally arrived, I announced to Mom my intention of joining up with an older friend at Electric Avenue, a local disco. You’d have thought I just announced I was turning Catholic.
“Don’t you dare! You will not set foot in there. You know what goes on in those places. Plus, we don’t drink liquor in this house,” she hollered. “For heaven’s sake, what if someone saw you coming out of there, what would they think?” Suffice it to say, to keep the peace I didn’t go then, but I sure did shortly thereafter. And a lot of times after that. I really did want to find out what went on in those places. Whoooeee, I did find out, to be sure. Heh-heh ….
Thankfully, this phase didn’t last long. By the time college came and went, the lure of roaring around town to our favorite watering holes with the various pals of that time, had lost its luster. Hmmm, maybe my own list of must-dos, have-tos, should-dos, don’t-you-dares was starting to shape up. Plus, had to admit, it was time to get on with adulting.
I had the good fortune to have a long-lasting career I thoroughly enjoyed, a loving spouse and family, two fine kids, wonderful grandkids, many friends, and relatively good health. Who could ask for anything more? Yet, in spite of all these grand and glorious things, the closet rebel remains. I’m reminded of the feature articles I used to enjoy as a youngster in MAD magazine called The Shadow Knows. In these, the illustrator would draw panels that portrayed people in various situations acting logically, responsibly, and respectably. In the background, however, their shadow selves reveal what they’re really thinking, or wish they were doing instead. That’s me.
I’ve been retired about ten years. Senior citizenry is at hand. And that, my friends, is an invitation to finally, finally cast off the shackles of all those pesky must-dos, have-tos, should-dos, don’t-you-dares that have plagued us forever. We can be less concerned about what we do or don’t do. They don’t need to define us any longer. Time to drive as slowly as you can in that immaculate beige minivan with no thought to the line of cars behind you! Drive with your mouth hanging open! Spend hours searching for the best gas price in town! Wear those pants up high! Wear suspenders! Sport those thirty-year-old clingy shirts with no worries about your saggy man boobs! Be a devotee of The Wheel! Go to bed at eight o’clock! Put exclamation points at the end of every written thought! Yes sir, it’s high time to stick it to the man.
Therefore, the well-timed curse, the enjoyment of a glass or two of a favorite brew, and a fine cut of prime beef await. Guilt-free and unashamed.
As my darling sweetheart reminds me, “The older I get, the less I enjoy being miserable.” Hear, hear!
So, ladies and gentlemen, raise your glasses! Here’s to delighting in that Beam and Squirt for dinner. Go right ahead and slap that big porterhouse on the grill. To **** with all those don’t-you-dares….
By Sen. Jon Bumstead
Water is arguably our most important natural resource. We can’t survive without it — people’s lives and livelihoods depend on clean and safe water infrastructure systems.
We have a unique, historic opportunity to invest in our state and leave it a better, safer place for our children and grandchildren.
As chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Natural Resources and Environment, Great Lakes and Energy, I had numerous discussions with constituents and worked closely with business and environmental leaders to determine how best to preserve and protect Michigan’s water quality, infrastructure and the environment.
I introduced Senate Bill 565, a budget supplemental bill that would dedicate over $3.3 billion in total funding to earnestly address these needs.
After months of deliberation, the Senate this week approved the bill. It would provide $1 billion to replace lead pipes across the state, $700 million to upgrade local drinking water and wastewater facilities and $85 million to ensure students have access to safe water by installing filtered water stations inside schools. The plan also addresses the harmful impacts of PFAS chemicals and would dedicate $100 million in grants to remove the chemicals from so-called orphaned sites.
The plan would also invest hundreds of millions of dollars to:
This is a unique moment in our history to come together as Michiganders to ensure our water is safe, take care of dams in critical condition, and preserve our natural resources.
Now is the time to take advantage of this one-time federal funding to build a cleaner, safer Michigan that will benefit residents for generations to come.
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