I think this is the coldest winter I've experienced here in the 10 years I've been back - and of the five years I was here previously. But there are red tulips waving at me along my driveway, and fresh, lush growth on the miniature roses in front of the house, so there's hope.

The seasons seemed kind of messed up to me the last couple years, so I'm anticipating that this year will be better and we'll actually be able to grow some veggies. I had a good start last year, but all of the sudden, over a couple weeks, they just bit the dust, and someone told me it was just a bad growing year - or perhaps it was because it was just too moist due to the fog off the ocean.

The seasons of our lives tend to be like that, too. Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, finding success in our endeavors seems to be a matter of two steps forward and one step back, leaving us frustrated, and at times, even bitter.

Times like that are when we need the help and encouragement faith can give us if we just let it. Too often, folks get discouraged and turn their backs on God, refusing to believe that help is available if we just ask. And then they hold on to bitterness about things, which only hurts us, not the other guy.

Our churches and various faith-based groups are numerous here, and in great variety. Check them out!

andbull; Today the fifth Kabalah class for temple Beth Shalom will take place at 11 a.m. at the Curry Coastal Pilot building in Brookings. The class has been well-attended, and folks are reminded to park on the street and not to block parking for the Pilot folks.

andbull; Tuesday, there will be a great Irish Variety show in the gym at St. Joseph's Catholic Church, 3rd and E streets. Doors will open at 5:30, and the performance will begin at 7 p.m.

There will be a wide variety of acts, entertainment for the whole family. The cost will be $15 per person or $50 for an entire family. Tickets are available at Del Norte Office Supply or call 464-3640.

andbull; A new diet class is starting Tuesday at the Seventh-day Adventist Church at 6 p.m. It will run for eight weeks, Tuesdays from 6 to 7 p.m. Called the "Full Plate Diet," the cost will be $40, which covers the cost of the book, a workbook, a daily diary, and CD with personal weekly information.

The class will show you how you can enjoy a full plate and still lose weight, how to stop yo-yo dieting, and thetools used by successful dieters. There are no weigh-ins and no calorie counting.

andbull; Thursday, the Ladies Christian Fellowship will meet at 10:30 a.m. at the Trinity Center of St. Paul's Episcopal Church.

The lunch this month will be a potluck with a $5 donation. All women are invited to attend; the group is multi-denominational. Differences are set aside, and good fellowship is enjoyed.

There will be a speaker and possibly some special music as well. Attendees are asked to bring a canned or non-perishable food item to help stock the supplies at Reach Out Ministries.

andbull; Palm Sunday, March 24, will bring a special program at the Pelican Bay Evangelical Free Church.

"Messiah in the Passover demonstration" will be hosted at 6 p.m. at the church on Blueberry Lane.

Conducted by David Sedaca of Chosen People Ministries, it is a program to give the Christian community better insight into Jewish tradition, making for better understanding of the Jewish roots of Christianity and to better help both communities better understand their common heritage.

The program is open to the public. For further information, call 464-9284.

To reach Martha Williams, call 460-3000, or email