Help Available For Sandy Survivors Stressed By Holidays

TRENTON, N.J. – The holiday season can create its own stress. This stress can be especially trying for those recovering from Hurricane Sandy.

Free help is available just a phone call away for New Jersey survivors who feel overwhelmed during the holidays.

The New Jersey Disaster Mental Health Helpline at 877-294-4357 or TTY 877-294-4356 is open  from 8 a.m. to midnight, seven days a week. Hours for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. All calls are free and confidential.  

Help Available For Sandy Survivors Stressed By Holidays

TRENTON, N.J. – The holiday season can create its own stress. This stress can be especially trying for those recovering from Hurricane Sandy.

Free help is available just a phone call away for New Jersey survivors who feel overwhelmed during the holidays.

The New Jersey Disaster Mental Health Helpline at 877-294-4357 or TTY 877-294-4356 is open  from 8 a.m. to midnight, seven days a week. Hours for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. All calls are free and confidential.  

When Plans Change Drastically

george_hancockstefanThis past Wednesday, I was in the airport from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM before my flight left.  I arrived for a 9:00 AM flight that was full.  In fact, I was taken on the plane because there was an empty seat, but when I got there, the steward was told that he counted wrong, and the person sitting in that seat was only in the bathroom.  I was transferred to a later 2:30 PM flight that was equally full. The next flight was at 5:30 PM, which was delayed until 7:00 PM.  In spite of all of these delays, I was glad to get on the last flight so I could visit my sisters and their families on the West Coast.  I was so easily bumped from all these flights because I flew on a buddy pass given to me by a friend. I am so thankful to my friend, even when I find myself in situations like these.

As I waited in the airport, I had a chance to reflect on the plans of Mary and Joseph.  Most of their plans did not go as they hoped they would. 

Mary, like the majority of the Jewish girls, wanted to present herself to Joseph as a virgin bride who waited in the betrothal time. That is the reason she asked the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” Yet in that moment, her plans completely changed when she submitted to the message of the angel by saying, “Let it be done to me according to your word.”

Joseph is introduced as a righteous man who is surprised that his betrothed (pledged to be married to him) is pregnant.  His plans completely changed.  As a righteous man, he decided that he will not make a scandal over this issue, and he will leave her quietly. Instead, he listened to the angel and took Mary in his house and thus becomes the one that gives the name Jesus to the Son that was conceived in Mary by the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit.

Then, Governor Quirinius comes with a new edict.  All had to register in the town of their forefathers.  This was the wrong time for Mary and Joseph to travel. Yet the punishment for forfeiting this census was so severe that they decided to travel to Bethlehem. The reception that they had in Bethlehem was not the best, and Jesus Christ was born in the manger.

When they planned to return home, another angel of the Lord told them that they had to change their plans again and this time leave the country completely and go to a foreign land. They traveled to Egypt and when they came back, their plans changed again as the angel told them that even though Herod has died, his son Archelaus reigned in his place and they should go to a different location.

I was thinking that if I did not receive a seat on that last flight, my only option would have been to return home instead of going to visit my sisters. I made my plans, but they seemed not to work for at least 12 hours as I was bumped from one flight to another.

 

I was thinking of other people whose plans completely changed this year.  I was thinking of people whose plans changed drastically because of Hurricane Sandy.  I was thinking of the changed plans for the families in the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.  All these people had plans in the morning, which by the end of the day completely changed and their lives will never be the same.

When the plans of life change drastically, said the famous theologian, Miroslav Volf, is it easier to be an atheist and talk about the merciless and cruel nature (or even call her mother nature), or talk about a personal God?  The well-known American deists, Ralph Emerson and David Thoreau, would say that God is involved in many universal matters, but He is not involved in the plane ticket and travel plans of George Hancock-Stefan.  They perhaps would say that God was somehow involved in the birth of Jesus Christ (even though they would deny his divinity), but not at all involved in such a devastating hurricane as Sandy. 

Many Christians have Jeremiah 29:11 as one of their favorite verses.  Jeremiah writes, “For I know the plans that I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” However, when our plans seem to go in so many directions and they are no longer the plans that we hoped for, it gets more difficult to see how they are good.

For that reason, I have another verse that I have memorized.  It is Psalm 55:22, “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.”  My trip was a planned ‘care’ – I wanted to arrive at a certain destination and towards the end of the day I was convinced that if the Lord wanted me to go to the West Coast, a seat will become available on the plane, but if that was not His will, I will take the train and go home.  

This does not mean that I do not envision and I do not plan. In fact, I have already planned the titles and the texts of the sermons that I will preach for January-June 2013.  I have about six trips planned for the same period.  These trips are intensive lectures series, presentations of academic papers, and sermons in other churches. We have special events planned for our children. Rather, what I have learned to do is to plan and to entrust my plans in the hands of the Lord asking for His blessing and for him to bring them to glorious fruition.

I pray that your plans for next year will come to fruition and that you will rejoice greatly in seeing blessings abundant on your path. However, if you find yourself waiting in an airport, or if your plans have been delayed, postponed, or rerouted, remember that God is aware of those plans and He will lead you through. He is as involved and present in the plans that come to fruition as He is involved and present in the ones that are slowed down, rerouted, or postponed.  With this in mind, I am looking forward to His plan for my return trip to New Jersey this Saturday.

When Plans Change Drastically

george_hancockstefanThis past Wednesday, I was in the airport from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM before my flight left.  I arrived for a 9:00 AM flight that was full.  In fact, I was taken on the plane because there was an empty seat, but when I got there, the steward was told that he counted wrong, and the person sitting in that seat was only in the bathroom.  I was transferred to a later 2:30 PM flight that was equally full. The next flight was at 5:30 PM, which was delayed until 7:00 PM.  In spite of all of these delays, I was glad to get on the last flight so I could visit my sisters and their families on the West Coast.  I was so easily bumped from all these flights because I flew on a buddy pass given to me by a friend. I am so thankful to my friend, even when I find myself in situations like these.

As I waited in the airport, I had a chance to reflect on the plans of Mary and Joseph.  Most of their plans did not go as they hoped they would. 

Mary, like the majority of the Jewish girls, wanted to present herself to Joseph as a virgin bride who waited in the betrothal time. That is the reason she asked the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” Yet in that moment, her plans completely changed when she submitted to the message of the angel by saying, “Let it be done to me according to your word.”

Joseph is introduced as a righteous man who is surprised that his betrothed (pledged to be married to him) is pregnant.  His plans completely changed.  As a righteous man, he decided that he will not make a scandal over this issue, and he will leave her quietly. Instead, he listened to the angel and took Mary in his house and thus becomes the one that gives the name Jesus to the Son that was conceived in Mary by the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit.

Then, Governor Quirinius comes with a new edict.  All had to register in the town of their forefathers.  This was the wrong time for Mary and Joseph to travel. Yet the punishment for forfeiting this census was so severe that they decided to travel to Bethlehem. The reception that they had in Bethlehem was not the best, and Jesus Christ was born in the manger.

When they planned to return home, another angel of the Lord told them that they had to change their plans again and this time leave the country completely and go to a foreign land. They traveled to Egypt and when they came back, their plans changed again as the angel told them that even though Herod has died, his son Archelaus reigned in his place and they should go to a different location.

I was thinking that if I did not receive a seat on that last flight, my only option would have been to return home instead of going to visit my sisters. I made my plans, but they seemed not to work for at least 12 hours as I was bumped from one flight to another.

 

I was thinking of other people whose plans completely changed this year.  I was thinking of people whose plans changed drastically because of Hurricane Sandy.  I was thinking of the changed plans for the families in the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.  All these people had plans in the morning, which by the end of the day completely changed and their lives will never be the same.

When the plans of life change drastically, said the famous theologian, Miroslav Volf, is it easier to be an atheist and talk about the merciless and cruel nature (or even call her mother nature), or talk about a personal God?  The well-known American deists, Ralph Emerson and David Thoreau, would say that God is involved in many universal matters, but He is not involved in the plane ticket and travel plans of George Hancock-Stefan.  They perhaps would say that God was somehow involved in the birth of Jesus Christ (even though they would deny his divinity), but not at all involved in such a devastating hurricane as Sandy. 

Many Christians have Jeremiah 29:11 as one of their favorite verses.  Jeremiah writes, “For I know the plans that I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” However, when our plans seem to go in so many directions and they are no longer the plans that we hoped for, it gets more difficult to see how they are good.

For that reason, I have another verse that I have memorized.  It is Psalm 55:22, “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.”  My trip was a planned ‘care’ – I wanted to arrive at a certain destination and towards the end of the day I was convinced that if the Lord wanted me to go to the West Coast, a seat will become available on the plane, but if that was not His will, I will take the train and go home.  

This does not mean that I do not envision and I do not plan. In fact, I have already planned the titles and the texts of the sermons that I will preach for January-June 2013.  I have about six trips planned for the same period.  These trips are intensive lectures series, presentations of academic papers, and sermons in other churches. We have special events planned for our children. Rather, what I have learned to do is to plan and to entrust my plans in the hands of the Lord asking for His blessing and for him to bring them to glorious fruition.

I pray that your plans for next year will come to fruition and that you will rejoice greatly in seeing blessings abundant on your path. However, if you find yourself waiting in an airport, or if your plans have been delayed, postponed, or rerouted, remember that God is aware of those plans and He will lead you through. He is as involved and present in the plans that come to fruition as He is involved and present in the ones that are slowed down, rerouted, or postponed.  With this in mind, I am looking forward to His plan for my return trip to New Jersey this Saturday.

New Year’s Poll 2013

jack_archibald_120The year 2012 was full of surprises and next year will be no different. As in past years, the winner of our annual New Years poll will receive a free one – year subscription to the Herald courtesy of this writer.

Which Democrat will face off against Governor Christie in November’s election?

How many cabinet members will resign prior to President Obama’s inaguaration?

Will Michael Bloomberg endorse a Republican for Mayor of New York City?

How many times will Lindsay Lohan be arrested in 2013?

The Dow Jones will be closer to 15,000 or 12,000 on July 1, 2013?

Will a bill outlawing assault weapons reach the floor of Congress?

Which Democrat will run against Serena Dimaso for Freeholder next fall?

How many Democrats will announce that they will seek Frank Lautenberg’s Senate seat?

Will any New Jersey municipalities default because of Hurricane Sandy?

In which month will Time Magazine cease its print edition?

Will the Atlantic Highlands Harbor be open for business by April 1?

How much money will Congress allocate to New Jersey for Hurricane Sandy?

In December 2013, the unemployment rate will be higher or lower than 7.7%

Which of golf’s majors will Rory McIlroy win in 2013?

Will Syrian President Assad still be in power on January 1, 2014?

Atlantic Highlands First Aider Richard Huff will respond to more or less than 50 calls next year?

Will the November ballot in New Jersey include a same sex marriage referendum?

Good luck to all and best wishes for a prosperous New Year!

New Year’s Poll 2013

jack_archibald_120The year 2012 was full of surprises and next year will be no different. As in past years, the winner of our annual New Years poll will receive a free one – year subscription to the Herald courtesy of this writer.

Which Democrat will face off against Governor Christie in November’s election?

How many cabinet members will resign prior to President Obama’s inaguaration?

Will Michael Bloomberg endorse a Republican for Mayor of New York City?

How many times will Lindsay Lohan be arrested in 2013?

The Dow Jones will be closer to 15,000 or 12,000 on July 1, 2013?

Will a bill outlawing assault weapons reach the floor of Congress?

Which Democrat will run against Serena Dimaso for Freeholder next fall?

How many Democrats will announce that they will seek Frank Lautenberg’s Senate seat?

Will any New Jersey municipalities default because of Hurricane Sandy?

In which month will Time Magazine cease its print edition?

Will the Atlantic Highlands Harbor be open for business by April 1?

How much money will Congress allocate to New Jersey for Hurricane Sandy?

In December 2013, the unemployment rate will be higher or lower than 7.7%

Which of golf’s majors will Rory McIlroy win in 2013?

Will Syrian President Assad still be in power on January 1, 2014?

Atlantic Highlands First Aider Richard Huff will respond to more or less than 50 calls next year?

Will the November ballot in New Jersey include a same sex marriage referendum?

Good luck to all and best wishes for a prosperous New Year!

Don’t Forget Sandy Survivors

allan_dean_100I worry that Sandy victims will be forgotten now that the holidays have passed and the 24/7 news cycle has moved on.  There are still thousands of homes and businesses in dire need of repair.  Hundreds of families on the Jersey Shore and Raritan Bayshore that are without a permanent place to lay their heads.  

A decade after Katrina, the aid trickles in through the good works of church groups, but little now comes from the government or private individuals anymore.  The same will be true for the Shore, I fear.  One tragedy on top of another will supplant the interest of news organizations.  Just today, the Associated Press released results of the top 10 stories of 2012 survey they’d conducted among editors.  The survey, initially completed the day prior to the horror in Connecticut,  said Sandy was the number 2 story behind the presidential election.  The AP decided the news was so big (and fresh) that they needed to conduct the survey again.  The election was still number 1, but Newton moved to number 2, pushing Sandy to the 3rd position, but still far ahead of the trailing news items.  

My point is this:  We need to focus attention on the plight of our neighbors here in New Jersey.  We have compassion for the innocents and their families in Newton,  but our people need help now!  

New Jerseyans have been front and center in the recovery efforts and others, from out of state, have stepped up to volunteer. Homes have been gutted, furniture and appliances hauled away by volunteer work crews.  Food pantries have been stocked but will always need more.  Clothing and household items have been donated.  Still hundreds are without a home.  

We must make clear to the nation that WE STILL NEED HELP.  You can help spread the word through your membership with national civic groups like, Lion’s, Rotary, Elks, Kiwanas, VFWs, American Legion Halls, etc. or religious organizations.  Share with your members the needs here.   Ask them to make donations to “reputable” organizations for the relief of Sandy victims.  There are a number of groups like the American Red Cross or the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund (sandynjrelieffund.org), chaired by NJ First Lady Mary Pat Christie that can direct money where it is needed most in the state.  There are also local fund drives to immediately help those in a specific area.  

As we turn the calendar to 2013, let us not forget the families that have struggled these two months to get back to some sense of normalcy in their lives: a roof over their head, food on the table and a job to return to.

Allan Dean, editor

Don’t Forget Sandy Survivors

allan_dean_100I worry that Sandy victims will be forgotten now that the holidays have passed and the 24/7 news cycle has moved on.  There are still thousands of homes and businesses in dire need of repair.  Hundreds of families on the Jersey Shore and Raritan Bayshore that are without a permanent place to lay their heads.  

A decade after Katrina, the aid trickles in through the good works of church groups, but little now comes from the government or private individuals anymore.  The same will be true for the Shore, I fear.  One tragedy on top of another will supplant the interest of news organizations.  Just today, the Associated Press released results of the top 10 stories of 2012 survey they’d conducted among editors.  The survey, initially completed the day prior to the horror in Connecticut,  said Sandy was the number 2 story behind the presidential election.  The AP decided the news was so big (and fresh) that they needed to conduct the survey again.  The election was still number 1, but Newton moved to number 2, pushing Sandy to the 3rd position, but still far ahead of the trailing news items.  

My point is this:  We need to focus attention on the plight of our neighbors here in New Jersey.  We have compassion for the innocents and their families in Newton,  but our people need help now!  

New Jerseyans have been front and center in the recovery efforts and others, from out of state, have stepped up to volunteer. Homes have been gutted, furniture and appliances hauled away by volunteer work crews.  Food pantries have been stocked but will always need more.  Clothing and household items have been donated.  Still hundreds are without a home.  

We must make clear to the nation that WE STILL NEED HELP.  You can help spread the word through your membership with national civic groups like, Lion’s, Rotary, Elks, Kiwanas, VFWs, American Legion Halls, etc. or religious organizations.  Share with your members the needs here.   Ask them to make donations to “reputable” organizations for the relief of Sandy victims.  There are a number of groups like the American Red Cross or the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund (sandynjrelieffund.org), chaired by NJ First Lady Mary Pat Christie that can direct money where it is needed most in the state.  There are also local fund drives to immediately help those in a specific area.  

As we turn the calendar to 2013, let us not forget the families that have struggled these two months to get back to some sense of normalcy in their lives: a roof over their head, food on the table and a job to return to.

Allan Dean, editor

AHHerald to Go Dark, Unless You Can Help

AHHerald needs your help to find a web hosting company. Our current provider will be shutting us down within 24 hours. It seems we have been getting too much traffic for our affordable shared hosting solution and our CPU usage is too high for their shared hosting package. We have been working with the hosting company to reduce our CPU load, but have been unsuccessful in the effort. They recommend we move to a dedicated server, but the cost is out of reach for us. And they say they do not provide charity.

In order for us to continue to provide services to our readers, as we’ve done for 12 years, we need to find a new hosting solution. If you know of a hosting company that will donate a server, please let us know so we can continue to help those affected by Sandy with news and information they need.

December 28   9:47 p.m.

UPDATE: Our technical problem may have been fixed.  Adjustments have been made to our Joomla content management system which seems to have reduced the load on the CPU.  The hosting provider will monitor the usage for the next 18 to 24 hours to ensure we have reduced our CPU usage.

AHHerald to Go Dark, Unless You Can Help

AHHerald needs your help to find a web hosting company. Our current provider will be shutting us down within 24 hours. It seems we have been getting too much traffic for our affordable shared hosting solution and our CPU usage is too high for their shared hosting package. We have been working with the hosting company to reduce our CPU load, but have been unsuccessful in the effort. They recommend we move to a dedicated server, but the cost is out of reach for us. And they say they do not provide charity.

In order for us to continue to provide services to our readers, as we’ve done for 12 years, we need to find a new hosting solution. If you know of a hosting company that will donate a server, please let us know so we can continue to help those affected by Sandy with news and information they need.

December 28   9:47 p.m.

UPDATE: Our technical problem may have been fixed.  Adjustments have been made to our Joomla content management system which seems to have reduced the load on the CPU.  The hosting provider will monitor the usage for the next 18 to 24 hours to ensure we have reduced our CPU usage.