It may not be Christmas season, but we've certainly had some days cold enough. I'm very glad not to be living on the other side of the country right now. After all, a good part of my reasoning in moving back to Crescent City was to get away from all that stuff.

If you've never had to drive to or from work at midnight in the midst of a blizzard, you can't imagine what it's like.

You gingerly ease the accelerator until your car starts to slide a little and then back off - ah, yes - it settles into a nice even ride at about 30 mph, and you pace your way toward your goal. Then, one of two things happens: Either you almost run into that poor scared soul who is just barely crawling, or the smart aleck with the big, bad 4x4 goes flying past you as if it was a clear day, throwing so much snow onto your windshield you are blinded.

Then add up all those years of doing that, and you get mighty sick of it. Thank God for Crescent City and winters when it mostly just rains! I sure don't miss the snow.

But speaking of Christmas, we just got the totals on the Operation Christmas Child Shoebox gifts from this past Christmas. Wow!

Worldwide, there were over 9.95 million! The U.S., 7,541,468. Our immediate area collected 920 shoeboxes, the Pacific Northwest region, 256,389. Every area showed an increase.

I'm starting to accumulate items now so that by November, I'll have pretty much everything I need. A few things every week or so add up pretty well by then.

andbull; Are you suffering a loss, and having a hard time dealing with it? The Crescent City United Methodist Church will be offering a six-week seminar entitled, "Surviving the Journey Through Grief."

It will begin Feb. 5 at 6 pm. Everyone will encounter grief at one time or another, and often folks need help getting through it. This seminar does not offer easy answers, but does light the path. Resources, tools, and community support will be offered. Sessions are free and open to all who are interested. Please call the church office at 464-3710 if you have any questions.

andbull; Temple Beth Shalom services will take place Friday at 7 p.m. at the temple, 956 J St. Saturday brings a class on the 613 commandments. Both will be led by Rabbi Les Scharnberg. You may call 464-5337 for further information.

andbull; There will be a concert Feb. 9 at 11 a.m. at the FirstBaptist Church. Wade Hammond is an award-winning Christian recording artist/songwriter whose music can be heard on Christian and country radio stations and XM radio.

Wade and wife Kathy are from Hoover, Ala., with a full-time ministry traveling throughout the U.S. and Canada. Kathy is a keynote speaker for women's conferences. Admission is free, but a love offering will be taken.

andbull; While I don't have full particulars yet, keep watching. There is a new Women's Christian Service Club being formed, one which I understand will have a somewhat different format than the Ladies' Christian Fellowship.That will give folks added opportunities for service and fellowship.

Is your church planning anything special for Valentine's Day? While some do not, I have seen some choose to use that day to emphasize God's love for us - a pretty neat idea, I think.

To reach Martha Williams, call 460-3000, or e-mail