Mardi Gras Celebration

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“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”         Jeremiah 29:13

Celebration illumination:  Mardi Gras

Magi from the East with only a star provided by God as their G.P.S. (Global Positioning System) undertook a long journey to find the one who would be born a King, the one and only Son of God.  They followed the bright shining star to a stable in Bethlehem and found Jesus, the Holy baby lying in a manger.  When they saw the baby they were overjoyed and bowed down and worshiped him.  Then these three wise kings opened their treasures and presented Jesus with gifts of gold, incense and myrrh.  This celebration became known as Twelfth Night and the Feast of Epiphany.  It is also the beginning of Mardi Gras Season which lasts until the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday which begins the season of Lent.  Children in New Orleans celebrate Mardi Gras with a King Cake.  It is an oval shaped cake that is decorated in the colors of green for Faith, yellow for Power and purple for Justice.  Inside the cake is hidden a small plastic baby to represent the Holy baby that the wise men found.  It is said that the child who finds the baby in their piece of cake will receive blessings all year long.  Simon found the baby in our cake and was declared a wise king.

Fun Stuff for Kids

Wise Men Crowns

Cut long strips of poster board (I used large gold gift bags that I found at the dollar store).  Cut crown points along one side of the strip.  Using glue sticks add sequins for jewels and sticker stars for wisdom to the crown.  Staple the crown together after measuring to fit the head of your child.

Mardi Gras masks

Cut a mask shape from a colorful red, green, blue or gold gift bag.  With a hot glue gun, glue a wooden dowel stick or a jumbo craft stick to the side of the mask for your child to hold it up to their face.  Cut out two eye shapes and with a glue stick glue glitter around the eyes.  Add shiny ribbons, sequins or stickers to decorate the mask.

Mind illuminations

I wondered about the many masked celebrations that take place in New Orleans during Mardi Gras.  It started me thinking about the many masks we each wear in life hoping that someone will see us as the person we want to be rather than who we really are.  Only God knows the heart and we will never discover the real person we were meant to be until we begin to seek Him and find Him.

King Cake Recipe

cake:  2 cans of refrigerator crescent rolls

Filling

  • 4 ounces of cream cheese (half of a brick)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Icing

  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 or 4 Tablespoons cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • colored sugars, purple, yellow and green

Beat cream cheese, brown sugar and cinnamon until smooth. Set filling aside.  Unroll crescent roll dough on a greased pizza pan or baking sheet and separate in triangles.  Place triangles side by side in an oval pattern.  Press seams together in the middle of each triangle so that you can fold them over filling.  Spread the filling around in a ring covering the center of the sealed seam of each triangle.  Fold the top and bottom of each triangle over the filling.  Tuck under the triangle points and lightly press the seams.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake cake for 20 – 25 minutes until golden brown.  Let cool and carefully insert a small plastic baby into the cake from the underside.

Beat the powdered sugar, cream and vanilla together until smooth.  Spread the room temperature cake with icing allowing it to drip down sides of cake.  Sprinkle colored sugars over cake in a swirl pattern.  Add some gold, purple and green beads that have been thoroughly washed in soapy water and dried.

I bought our King cake at the bakery but this one doesn’t sound too difficult to make if your bakery doesn’t sell them.  A small plastic baby may be found at the Dollar store.

Mind illuminations

Don’t you know that the devil must have harassed those wise kings shooting darts at them all along their journey.  I can just imagine the devil projecting thoughts into their minds like, “This is such a waste of time!  You’ll never find this baby.  Why don’t you just take your treasures and spend them on something you want?”

But the Magi never wavered in their quest.  Their focus was fixed.  Thus they were known as wise men.  To find the LORD is the greatest reward of all rewards.


Treasures and Great Riches

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For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”   Matthew 6:21

Fun Stuff For Kids

For cousin’s night last Thursday, I decided to let all the grand kids decorate little wooden treasure boxes.  I asked them to cover the top and sides of the box with glue using a glue stick and then one at a time I let them shake their boxes in a zip locked bag that I had filled with sequins, tiny bits of shiny colored cellophane paper and gold glitter.  I personally made sure the bag was well zipped before they began to shake it and I asked them to please shake it gently.  Then they placed their box on a sheet of wax paper to dry. To complete their boxes I gave them a shiny red jewel heart to glue on their box and talked about Matthew 6:21.  A couple of days later I opened each box and inserted a tiny twig in it to hold it open and sprayed the boxes with Design Master Clear Finish Gloss so that the decorations would not come off.

This week for cousin’s night I am going to give each of them a small notebook and ask them to write out their bible verse for this month and place it in their treasure chest.  I have told them that from time to time I intend to draw out one of the verses and there will be a special reward for anyone who is able to say it.  I hope this will encourage them to not forget the verses they learn.

In The 12 Month Challenge To Great RichesThe Hunt for Gold ages 5-8, the verse for February is Proverbs 3:3,4:  “Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.”

For The Hunt for Gold, ages 8 and up, the verse for February is Matthew 6:20,21:  “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” 

For The Hunt for Diamonds designed for those who have completed the Hunt for Gold, the verse for February is Jeremiah 29:11-13:  “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

If you would like to read the verses for the rest of the months of the year I have copied The Challenge To Great Riches in my January part II post.

My Favorite Banana Bread:  It has the most delicious crust!!
This is an old family recipe from Martha, the Great Grandmother of Christy’s children.  Martha owned and was the head chef of the very successful restaurant, Wadlingtons in Western Kentucky.  Martha has written the cookbook, “Martha’s Kentucky Kitchen” which I believe the Joseph Beth bookstore still has for sale.  Martha dedicated her cookbook to her husband, children, grand children and great grandchildren and said a special thanks to God for blessing her with such a wonderful family and for the special times and memories she has of each of them and the joy it is to her to be their Grandmother.

BEST EVER BANANA BREAD

  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed (1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 Tablespoon buttermilk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup chopped nuts (optional)

In large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking soda and salt.  In another bowl add eggs, bananas, oil, buttermilk and vanilla.  Mix well.  Add flour mixture to banana mixture.  Add nuts with flour stirring just to combine and do not beat.  Grease one 9x5x3 inch baking pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes or until bread tests done with cake tester. (I place a piece of foil like a tent over the bread after 50 minutes to protect the crust from browning too much.  I generally find that it takes between 10 and 15 more minutes for my bread to get done.  I always make it without nuts because that is the way our family likes it.)  After bread is done let set in pan 15 minutes before removing from pan.  Cool on wire rack.  Yields one loaf.  Note:  Recipe does not double well.

Mind illumination

This morning on day five in my Beth Moore Bible study on James, “Mercy Triumphs” I read in Acts 15:14 how God from the Gentiles took a people for himself.  Then in Deuteronomy 14:21  read that “Out of all the peoples on the face of the earth, the LORD has chosen you to be his treasured possession.”

While I was still pondering the wonder of this, I walked from my reading chair into the kitchen and discovered that the sunlight coming in the window was reflecting tiny rainbows on my floor.  I had never seen this before and could hardly believe it and I was reminded to pray for Betty over in China.  I counted seven tiny rainbows and decided to step on each one.  I know this was God’s wonderful way of confirming to me that as His treasured possession, I can stand on His Promises and trust in His Unfailing Love.

Babies Are Precious!

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“But now this is what the LORD says – he who created you… I have summoned you by name; you are mine.  Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you.”  Isaiah 43:1,4

BABIES ARE PRECIOUS

Shepherd is our miracle baby.  After our daughter had two miscarriages she went to a high risk pregnancy specialist and was told that her test results indicated that her body was unable to absorb the B vitamins and Folic Acid necessary to have a baby.  The specialist informed her that in order for her to have a full term baby, she would have to give herself a shot in her belly every night of her pregnancy.  Shepherd was born beautiful and healthy because she was willing to endure this painful treatment.  She later said that it was a small price to pay in order to have her baby.

Our culture today has given the “go ahead and have an abortion” to girls who get pregnant and find it inconvenient to have a baby and so they decide to have an abortion.  What these girls probably do not realize is:

At The Moment of Conception:

  • a baby’s DNA is created: the hair and eye color, height, body type and personality are already determined,
  • at 22 days after conception a tiny heart begins to beat,
  • by the 14th – 16 week the brain development enables a baby to suck and swallow and make irregular breathing movements.

Facts about Abortion:  

  • A human life is being taken every 25 seconds.
  • Each of these white crosses represent one million babies, over 50 million precious babies killed in the United States since Roe vs Wade in 1973.
  • In fact it is estimated that more than 50 million babies are aborted each year worldwide.

Did you know that even an eagle’s egg is more valuable than an unborn baby?  If you break a bald eagle’s egg you will receive a fine of  up to $20,000 and get 1 – 5 years in Federal prison.

If you kill a doe with two unborn dear out of season, you will be fined $250.00 for the doe and $125.00 for each of the unborn dear.

There is no penalty for killing an unborn child!!

I believe we need to teach our children to LOVE LIFE

and to JUST SAY, NO WAY!

  • Because I refuse to ever kill my baby.
  • And I don’t want to have a baby until I’m married.

Obviously, the school’s way of education is not working.  Free hand outs may even encourage children to experiment which later results in far too many unwanted pregnancies.  BABIES ARE PRECIOUS!  It is time that our schools and Nation stand up with courage for what is right and speak the truth!

JOY PRODUCTIONS is planing to make the movie, “A Matter of Convenience,” which I believe would change the mind of any girl who was thinking about having an abortion.  The story written by my husband, an attorney in Lexington, Kentucky, follows Jason and his girlfriend Kim, pregnant from a one-night spring fling.  Kim decides to have an abortion saying it is just a fetus, but Jason begs her not to do something she will regret the rest of her life.  He can’t change her mind and decides to kidnap her and hold her hostage until the baby comes.  He plans to deliver the baby himself and then disappear with the child.  The police know he is the culprit and make every effort to catch him.

The suspense mounts each time she nearly escapes and as the police come ever closer to catching him.  The baby is born healthy, but Kim begins to hemorrhage and Jason is faced with the moral decision of whether to escape with the child or save her life by taking her to the hospital.  He saves her life but is caught and put on trial for kidnapping with aggravating circumstances, for which he could receive the death penalty.  The result is a dramatic courtroom battle which puts abortion on trial.  His defense is “self-defense” of his child who was subjected to being killed by the abortion.  The audience will love the trial scene when the baby, now 3 years old is brought into the courtroom as an “exhibit” of what Kim wanted to destroy.  The surprise ending will stun the audience.

Please click on amatterofconvenience.com to find out more about the movie and Joy Productions.  We videoed three test scenes last spring using Andrew Hunter and Janelle Gore, two students from Asbury University in Wilmore, Kentucky, along with some family members and friends.  If you agree with us about the need for making this movie, please share this post with your friends. family and church.  We are going to need your prayers and support in order to make this a movie that will make a difference.

Fun Stuff For Kids

When we took Shepherd to the “Old Kentucky Candy” store.  It was such fun to see his eyes light up and hear him exclaim “WOW!”  We let him walk along the aisles and told him that he could look but not touch.  We asked him to choose his favorite and what a difficult choice it turned out to be!  He finally decided on a brightly wrapped little chocolate car which he popped into his mouth as soon as we were out of the store.  He also wanted to pick out something for his mommy and you can see the love in his eyes and how delighted he was with his choice.  Our children are our most precious possessions and the hope of the world.

Mind illuminations

We had a lovely little snow early this morning.  There was only a powdered sugar dusting on the grass, but it stuck to the trees and made a winter wonderland out of the woods.  How I love to see a bright red cardinal on a snowy day and this morning I felt like it was a valentine of love and hope from God.

More Fun Stuff For Kids

Loving Heart Bird Treats

  • 2 hamburger buns
  • 2egg whites
  • birdseed
  • small heart shaped cookie cutter
  • red yarn

Slice the hamburger buns in half and cut a heart shape in the center of each.  Beat the egg whites until foamy and brush it on the inside of each bun.  Sprinkle birdseed over the egg white and press down slightly to hold in place.

Bake the buns on a cookie sheet at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes.  Let cool and hang with the red yarn outside on a tree that you can watch from your window  The birds and squirrels will love eating this treat and later a bird may use the yarn to decorate her nest.

Beauty illuminations

After going to the bakery we decided to visit the “Michler Florist” shop on Maxwell street.  With snow falling outside, we walked through the warm, flower scented greenhouse and it was a little bit like finding the hidden key and entering a beautiful secret garden.  One of my favorite books growing up was “The Secret Garden” by Frances Hodgson Burnett.  The movie is a must see and remains one of my favorites! 

We felt this morning like we had walked into an enchanted springtime with baby daffodils and tulips, orchids and roses and even a large Gardenia bush in bloom.  I would love to have a greenhouse in my backyard and be able to have tea parties and luncheons among the flowers.  Ah!  Isn’t it fun to dream!!

While we wandered from one greenhouse to another, Shepherd enjoyed pointing out all the pretty flowers that he wanted to buy for me.  Another treat for him was getting to feed parsley to the rabbit that lives in the greenhouse.Valentine Party

For our valentine party with the grand kids this year, I baked a turkey breast, fixed red heart shaped Jello Jigglers, fruit salad, potato chips and Sister Schubert rolls.  This is an easy dinner to prepare and a favorite with all the grand kids.  Most of the turkey is eaten while my husband is still carving it, protesting loudly as he carves that they are eating up all his turkey which sends them into giggles of delight.

After dinner we made old fashion valentine cards for their parents with lace, hearts, ribbons, stickers and a great deal of imaginative creativity.  Then it was time for dessert.  We had ice cream sundaes with vanilla and chocolate ice cream, strawberry, chocolate and caramel sauce and gummy bears, gummy lifesavers and m&m candy toppers.  To go with the sundaes we had home baked chocolate chip cookies, cupcakes and Strawberry cake.  The recipe for this cake is an old favorite passed down from the great grandmother of Mary Ladd’s children on their father’s side of the family.

Strawberry Cake with Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1 pkg. white cake mix
  • 1 3oz. pkg. strawberry jello
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 2/3 cup Crisco oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup frozen strawberries not drained.

Beat together on low speed all the ingredients then beat 4 minutes on medium speed.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees Divide batter into three 8 inch round pans and bake for 30 minutes.  Cool  and frost.

Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 2 pkg cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1/2 stick margarine at room temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 cup drained strawberries
  • about 5 or 6 cups powdered sugar

Beat together well and spread on cooled cake.  Refrigerate several hours before serving.  Enjoy!

After our desserts we all snuggled up under blankets to watch the new “Treasure Buddies” movie release by Disney.  The grand kids loved the movie which was on the order of Indiana Jones with golden retriever puppies.

Loving illuminations

One Sunday morning several years ago the ladies from Friendship sang “Love in any Language” an inspirational song from the artist Sandi Patti.  It describes how love from the heart pulls us all together. 

Can you say, “I Love You” in all these different languages?

  • French:   Je t’aime
  • Dutch:   Ik hou van jou
  • Chinese (Cantonese):   Moi oiy neya
  • Chinese (Mandarin):   Wo ai ni
  • Egyptian:   Aria bahebek
  • German:   Ich liebe dich
  • Hawaiian:   Aloha l’a au oe
  • Greek:    s’agapo
  • Italian:   Ti voglio bene
  • Japanese:   Aishiteru
  • Polish:   Ja cie kocham
  • Russian:  Ya vas liubliu
  • Spanish:    Te amo
  • Swedish:    Jag alskar dig

Rainbow illuminations

Betty will be leaving for China this week on Valentine’s Day and she told us at bible study last week about her room filled with rainbows.  Somehow the sunlight reflected through the window created lots of tiny rainbows across the floor.  Walking into this room and standing on the rainbows reminded her that she was Standing On God’s Promises secure in His Unfailing Love! 

This year I shall be looking for rainbows knowing that God’s Love Never Fails.

Friendship International & Rocket Ship Toy

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“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send?  And who will go for us?’  And I said ‘Here I am.  Send me!'”

Several years ago it was my privilege to be a part of Friendship International and after teaching ceramics for a year, I decided to teach a class about “how to be a clown.”  I was actually a part of a clown group in my church at that time and we enjoyed visiting nursing homes and even went to the children’s special Olympic games held over in Richmond one year.  The Friendship ladies and I had so much fun that year. We spent most of our time laughing. Can you tell that we designed our costumes ourselves from pajamas and our husband’s old shirts?  At the end of the semester, we decided to put on a skit in which we taught the other ladies at Friendship how to make “Friendship Soup.”  Of course clowns don’t talk so each of the ladies put in an ingredient in our soup pot.  One put in a rubber chicken, another a whole bunch of unpeeled carrots with the green tops still on and another salt that was still in the salt shaker just to list a few.  But the clowns were all sad because we couldn’t figure out why when we tested the soup it didn’t taste right.  Then someone figured out that we had left out the LOVE ingredient.  So we all started hugging each other and after that the soup tasted great!  I shall never forget the wonderful friends and memories of that group of ladies.  If any of you are still around make a comment and let me know.

I have often made my own original version of “Friendship Soup” at home and it is a favorite of my family and friends.  I usually serve it with homemade bread or corn bread.  I will include those recipes in a later post.  Just remember when you make it  that the most important ingredient is love and always make enough to share with a friend.  That is me with the green hair and chef hat.

Friendship Soup Recipe

  • 2 Tablespoons margarine or butter
  • 3 lbs. lean stew beef stew meat cut in chunks (cut off all fat around the beef)
  • 9 cups of water
  • 1 cup Swanson all natural beef stock
  • 1 can of stewed tomatoes
  • 4 fresh carrots peeled and cut in pieces
  • 2 packages frozen white corn (off the cob)
  • 1 package frozen mixed vegetables (corn, peas, beans, carrots)
  • 8 stalks fresh celery chopped into small pieces
  • 1 heaping teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder,
  • 1/2 teaspoon marjoram leaves,  1/2 teaspoon oregano leaves, 1/2 white onion chopped fine or 1/2 teaspoon onion flakes
  • 3 tablespoons flour

Early in the morning in a large pot, brown the beef in the butter on medium high heat.  Add the water, beef stock and salt and pepper.  Let simmer all morning.  Take off burner and add a cup of ice cubes to cool and place pot in refrigerator in order to let grease rise to top.  A couple of hours before supper cook the carrots and celery about 20 minutes until tender and drain.  Cook frozen corn and vegetables and drain.  Take soup pot out of refrigerator and skim off the fat and throw away.  Chop up the stewed tomatoes and add them along with tomato juice to pot.  Add all of the drained cooked vegetables and the rest of the seasonings.  Bring to boil and then let simmer until dinner time.  Just before serving mix the flour into a cup of water and add to soup stirring to thicken the broth.  We love it the first night but I think it tastes even better the following day after all the flavors have mixed together.  Enjoy!

Favorite Toys:   The Rocket Ship

I had been hearing about the rocket ship from my grand kids for about five years before I went to see it.  The “rocket ship” is in a bedroom at Rick (Pop) and Andrea’s {Mimi) house.  Pop has visited numerous garage sales and flea markets to fill the rocket ship with many           treasures.  Actually, according to Spencer, the Commander of the ship, they had so  much stuff that they had to make a storage box for the extra stuff.  The rocket ship consists of a bunk bed and two refrigerator boxes stacked on top of each other along with over 200 assorted collected treasures.

  • The rocket ship team is made up of:
  • Spencer the Commander
  • Grant the General
  • Simon the Sergeant
  • Scout the Medic
  • Shepherd, member in training

Spencer told me that they don’t just eat, sleep and ride in space all the time.  They get off and fight battles with the enemy. More fun stuff for Kids

Rice Krispie Treat Snowmen

Last Thursday night the kids had a ball making snowmen.  When you do this project be sure to have large bowls of water on the table for the kids to dip their hands.  It is SUPER STICKY!

Ingredients:  6 cups Rice Krispies cereal, 1 10 oz. bag of large marshmallows,           3 Tablespoons of butter or margarine, red licorice whips, chocolate covered raisins, carrot sticks cut in the shape of a nose, wax paper and paper plates.

Melt the butter and add the marshmallow stirring until melted.  Add the Rice Krispies and stir until well mixed.  Spoon out some of the mixture on a paper plate for each child.  Place the paper plate on a sheet of wax paper to further protect your table.  Tell the children to wet their hands and mold three snow balls placing one on top of the other.  Use some frosting to hold them together if necessary.  Add the chocolate raisin eyes, red licorice mouth and a scarf and a carrot stick nose using a little frosting to hold in place.  This was a really fun project and I can’t remember when I’ve heard the grand kids laugh so much!  They also loved eating their finished snowmen!

Mind illuminations

After our usual Wednesday trip to the bakery, we decided to go to the Thrifty Book Worm bookstore off Harrodsburg road. on Allendale. I’ve always loved books, libraries and bookstores ever since I worked at a library during my summers when I was in Junior High and High School.  I earned a $1.50 an hour and felt well paid to be doing something I enjoyed so much.  The Thrifty Book Worm is loaded with half price books and I thoroughly loved looking at the children’s section which is not big but filled with some excellent books.  I bought “Frog and Toad Together,” a book by Arnold Lobel for Shepherd.  My daughter and I loved reading it together when she was little.  I also bought “Wiggle” a funny book about a dog by Doreen Cronin.  It said that it was written for energetic toddlers.  For myself I bought “Puppies For Sale and Other Inspirational Tales” by Dan Clark.  He is one of the best-loved storytellers who wrote the #1 New York Times Bestseller “Chicken Soup for the Soul.”  I plan to return to the bookstore by myself when I can browse longer without keeping an eye on Shepherd.

The Great Commission Celebration

On January 22, Porter Memorial Baptist Church had a service that blessed my soul and heart.  The singing of “How Great Is Our God” with solos sung by many Internationals in their own language was so beautiful it brought tears to my eyes.  It was sung in Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Spanish, Haitian and UkraneanIt sounded like a little foretaste of what Heaven must be like.  That afternoon we were treated to an International Food Tasting and Mission Celebration and it was a glorious day indeed!

Mind Illuminations

Judy Metcalf, the director of Friendship International is hosting the new Beth Moore Bible study on James beginning Feb. 13 at 10:00 A.M. in Wilmore, KY, at her home.  Any one interested is welcome to come.

Golden Illuminations

We took Ladd to the vet last weekend for a Rabies shot and DA2PLCPVCV ADULT shot and Leptospira 5 way Annual shot.  He is good to go for a year now and I think he looks great with his red heart Rabies tag.  It is very important to keep your dogs up to date on their shots and flea medicine.  We have found that Advantage is the flea medicine that works best for our dogs.

In training Ladd who is now almost 6 months old, I use hand signs as well as voice.  I found this to work very well in teaching him to sit, lie down and roll over.  It is very important that your dog has his complete attention focused on you when you are training him.  In the same way if a service dog is distracted, he may not recognize an important need or wish indicated by his master.  This could be both dangerous and regrettable. Check out my article in my Jan. 28 post about therapy-service dogs if you would like to know more.

In the same way when we lose focus on our Master, we have no guide for living.  If we do not quickly regain our focus, we may wander down dangerous paths and dead ends that lead nowhere.  I have discovered that my SELF is my greatest enemy because it tries to get my focus off my LORD.  Every time I get too busy thinking about what I want to do instead of asking God what He wants me to do, I get into trouble. So this Year I will try to remember to FOCUS on what is truly important!

Please watch for a very important post coming February 14.  I will be talking about something that is very dear to my heart.  Also will be included pictures from our annual Valentine party for the grand kids, (parents night out) plus recipes, crafts and fun stuff.

Therapy Dogs & Friendship International

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“Greater love hath no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.  John 15:13

Friendship International

“Friendship International is a gift of Christian love from American ladies to Internationals living in the Lexington area.  The purpose of Friendship International is to help make the adjustment to the American way of life easier, to provide activities of interest and to facilitate building cross-cultural friendships.”

Friendship International meets in Immanuel Baptist Church each Thursday during the school year, unless Fayette Co. Public Schools are not in session.  Childcare is provided for preschool children.

Here is a list of some of the classes that are offered:  Bible Study, Cooking, Crafts, Crochet, Cross-Cultural Parenting, Cross-Stitch, Exercise, Knitting, Line Dancing, Needlepoint, Quilting, Scrap booking, English (levels 1,2and 3), and Spanish.

The day that I attended they were celebrating the countries of the International ladies with a Parade of Nations.  The traditional dress of their country worn by many of the International women and their children was breathtaking.  I am sorry I was unable to take pictures of all the lovely ladies and children.

Following the Parade OF Nations I visited the cooking  class and enjoyed listening to Kim Okesson explain and demonstrate how to prepare and cook Ramen Cabbage Salad, English Muffin Pizzas and Rice Pudding.  The English Muffin Pizzas were not only just what my grand kids would love but also very easy and inexpensive to make.   The recipe is as follows:

English Muffin Pizzas                                                  

English Muffins

Pizza or Pasta Sauce

Mozzarella Cheese

Toppings:  Meat: cooked chicken, ground beef, ham and sausage.

Vegetables: onion, green pepper spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms, what ever you like.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Split English muffin in half and toast in toaster if you like a crunchy crust.  Place split muffins on cookie tray.

Spoon on sauce, then add toppings.  Add the cheese last.

Cook in a hot oven for 10-15 minutes.  Once the cheese is melted, your pizzas are ready.  Enjoy!!

Best Friend Therapy Dogs

Baby is a therapy dog as well as a service dog.  The way that Lee and Linda explained the difference to me is as follows.  A therapy dog does something for someone else.  A therapy dog has a “bachelor degree” and has to like people and get along with them well.  He must not be spooked by walkers or loud noises like a plate dropping to the floor.  Baby has provided therapy to anxious parents and children in emergency rooms and waiting rooms.  Baby has worked at the V.A. Hospital on Leestown Rd., at U.K. children’s Hospital oncology unit, and with Alzheimer patients at the local Best Friends program.

Lee developed a vision problem in 2006 and now Baby is pretty much a full time service dog for him.  A service dog has a “master’s degree” and does something for it’s owner.  Baby has traveled with Lee on airplanes to California and accompanies him into restaurants.   She is very well behaved and should not be petted when she has her service vest on because that would distract her focus from her job.  She is able to sniff out smoke and help Lee not run into things.  Some service dogs sniff out bombs and drugs.  A seeing eye dog has a P.H.D. and is highly and specifically trained.  The key trick in training a dog is repetition that is reinforced.

Baby will be 10 years old in March and was rescued from a “kill shelter” the day before she was going to be put down.  I met Baby at the Heirloom restaurant in Midway and immediately fell in love with her.  When you look into Baby’s eyes, you see great depths of compassion, wisdom and love.  No wonder she has made such a great therapy and service dog.  What a blessing she has been both to Linda and Lee as well as all the people she comforted through the years.

Fun Stuff For Kids

We decided to take our two year old grandson with us when we took Ladd for a check up at the vet.  Shepherd decided that his dog Raffy needed a checkup also.   The doctor at the Animal Hospital of Nicholasville was so understanding and examined both Raffy and Ladd explaining patiently everything to Shepherd and answering all his questions.  What a joy it is to find doctors who are concerned about their patients as well as their owners.

More Fun Stuff For Kids

When our daughter Christy was young, she wanted a dog house for her best friend Snoopy.  One weekend, my husband agreed to help her build one and together they constructed it out of a cardboard box and lots of tape.  They had a wonderful time painting it and made a beautiful and priceless memory of fun and laughter.

Time with our children, loved ones and friends is so precious.  We should never take it for granted.  Make the most of every moment you are given!

“How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!  How vast is the sum of them!  Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand.  When I awake, I am still with you.”  Psalm 139:17, 18

Best Friend Dogs

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“And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”    Philippians 4:19

It was 22 degrees outside this morning and 56 degrees in my family room when I got up.  I put on a double layer of fleece to begin the day since we don’t heat part of our home at night to save money (don’t try this in any room that has water pipes because they might freeze, break and flood your home.)  When I looked outside my window, I discovered that our yard was covered with sparkling diamonds of frost.  Their beauty along with the memory of my grand kids laughter and smiles reminds me that I am very rich indeed!

Fun Stuff for Kids

Last night for Cousin’s Night we took all eight of the grand kids skating at Triangle Park.  None of them had ever been skating before and I had only gone skating once in the last 44 years.  I thought seriously about wrapping myself up in the roll of bubble wrap that we had bought for Shepherd to play with popping the bubbles.  Thankfully after much prayer and most likely a guardian angel holding me up on each side, I didn’t fall.  The grand kids were amazing!  The boys, not caring how many times they fell, took to it immediately.  The girls were a little more cautious but after about an hour, they were all skating.  Shepherd, our fearless two year old went right out and started walking on his skates with no problem.  Everyone loved skating and another fun thing about our trip to the “city” was hearing Shepherd exclaim “WOW!” over and over again.  “Look at the tall buildings with all the lights, Grammy, look at the towers and look at the church steeple all lit up.”  He especially liked parking in a parking garage with all the cars and riding in an elevator with a window over at Victorian Square and walking across the sky walk and seeing the cars go under us.  How wonderful it is to see life through the eyes of a little child!  No wonder Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”   Mark 10:15  It takes childlike, fearless faith to believe that which we can not see.

Housekeeping Fun Tip

This is the most fun way to clean your wood floors.  First wax your table and chairs with some lemon Pledge (I like lemon because it smells so good.)   Next put on some good skating music like Skater’s Waltz.  Then put on an old pair of clean socks and have all your kids or grand kids put on socks also.  Then everybody skate around the floor.  The kids will love it and you’ll have a nice shiny floor from the little bit of Pledge mist that fell on the floor when you waxed your furniture.

Kitchen Drying Mats

Have you tried the new drying mats for pots and pans and stuff you wash by hand? My daughter gave me one with snowflakes on it for Christmas and I love it.  So much nicer than spreading out a kitchen towel and you can throw it in the washer if you need to clean it.

Mind Illuminations

I’m playing “Words With Friends” which is like scrabble only better (you play at your own convenience over the internet.)  Right now I have four games going and two of them are with my grandsons.  They keep me busy trying to come up with words and hopefully it will keep my brain sharp!

Best Friend Celebrations

Shepherd wanted to celebrate his best friend Raffy’s birthday so I took two candles and some matches with us to the bakery and we had “fire on the doughnut” as he called it and sang happy birthday to Raffy.  Shepherd talks to Raffy like a real person and takes him everywhere he goes.  We’ve discovered that the best way to get Shepherd to go to bed is to tell him that Raffy is sleepy and then ask Raffy who he wants to sleep with.  Of course all the names we suggest are met with a big “NO” until we say Shepherd.  This pleases Shepherd so much that he happily goes off to bed with him.

Other Best Friends who have blessed our hearts through the years:

Happy was one of my best birthday presents ever.  My daughters surprised me with him by placing a large picnic basket with a big red bow on my kitchen counter for my birthday.  You can imagine my surprise and delight when the lid started to lift up and a darling puppy poked his nose out.  It was love at first sight.

My son Jim is a tech genius or maybe I should say wizard because he patiently taught me a lot of new skills on the computer so I could start this blog.  Here he is pictured with his former best friend, Morgan.

This is Bobby with his best friend Oscar. He owns Wombles Transportation (more later about our trip with Shepherd down to see his big buses.)

This is Mary Ladd with one of  her best friends, Sampson when he was still a puppy.

When Sampson came to our house to live, I thought he would be a great guard dog.  But the only person that he ever ran off was the U.P.S. delivery man who he chased down our driveway.  We still can’t get U.P.S. deliveries to this day.  Great Danes are very playful and the only problem with them is that they are big as a small pony.

I forgot to mention that one summer Sampson jumped into our neighbors pool.  I received a call to come get him immediately!  I never found out who was swimming when this happened.

Christy fell in love with Sidney when she first got married to Chad and they took her to Beaver Dam with them.  On a weekend visit home to our house Sidney became Happy’s sweetheart.  Later she became the Mother of first Bailey and eventually Sunshine.  Sidney use to disappear and eventually Christy would find her in the bath tub behind the shower curtain.  She loved to take  baths.

We’ve had so many best friends through the years.  Dogs are a gift from God to men and provide us with “good medicine” when we are lonely, hurting or sad! (more about this later)

Health Tip

Tonight when I was plugging up all my tech stuff that needed charging (cell phone, Kindle Fire,and camera), I suddenly realized that I felt like my own battery was needing to be charged.  So before I fall asleep tonight, I intend to plug into God knowing He will energize me for tomorrow.

Mind illumination   “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”   Psalm 119:11

Three of my grand kids said their Bible verse to me last night and what a special blessing it is to hear them and receive the big hug they give me when I tell them how very proud I am of them.   If you haven’t learned a new bible verse for January yet take a look at the Challenge For Great Riches in my Jan. 14 blog and put a smile in your heart today by memorizing a verse.


Challenge To Great Riches

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“you will fill me with joy in your presence,”     Psalm 16:11

Have you ever noticed how on a cold winter day the closer you sit to the fire the warmer you feel?  If Jesus came into my home I would want to sit as close as I could to Him.  I know it would be just like being outside and feeling the winter winds when suddenly the sun comes out and you feel warmed all over.  I love to have my grand kids cuddle up to me when I read them a story and I’ll bet God rejoices when we want to be close to Him.

Beauty tip:

Next time you have a fire in your fireplace watch how the firelight reflects on your family’s face.  Did you know that when you are in the Presence of God, you become a reflection of His Glory and that’s what makes us beautiful – with an inner shining beauty.  “When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the LORD.”  Exodus 34:29

Grammy Fun Stuff

Shepherd and Daddo at Magee's Bakery

Today we went to Magee’s Bakery with our two year old grandson, Shepherd.  When you walk in the door the most delicious aroma greets you and it always reminds me of the bakery I loved to visit when I was a child.  I remember that they had trays of yummy looking assorted cookies in a glass case and the sweet lady who waited on us always gave me a free sample sugar cookie.  But Magee’s has wonderful doughnuts and a glass case of beautiful celebration cakes plus lots of pretty cup cakes.  We love their cinnamon sugar doughnuts the best and it has become a weekly stop on Wednesdays which is the day we have Shepherd.

One beautiful Wednesday last fall we arranged to meet our daughter, Mary there along with her four children.  She home schools all of them, ages 6, 8, 10, and 12.  I suggested that it would be a great field trip (of course the kids all agreed) and afterward, we went over to Woodland Park so Shepherd could play while the older kids did bark rubbings and collected leaves from the many different, wonderful old trees there which have name plaques underneath.  It was almost like a treasure hunt finding all the trees with name plaques and the kids thought it was lots of fun.

TREASURE HUNT:   “I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel who summons you by name.”   Isaiah 45:3

Cousins Night Jan. 11

Speaking of treasure hunts, this year on January 11 at Cousins Night I gave each of my grand kids a challenge to learn some of my favorite bible verses.  I also did this last year and since four of them completed the gold challenge part two, I added a diamond challenge this year.  The best thing about the challenge is that I am learning the verses along with my grand kids and their parents hear them say the verses as they try to remember them.  It is the greatest BRAIN ILLUMINATION possible!!

Health Tip:  Will you take the challenge and illuminate your mind with me?

THE CHALLENGE TO GREAT RICHES

The Hunt for Gold  (part one ages 5-8)

The Great Riches will be the treasure of wisdom and knowledge of God you have hidden in your heart throughout the year.

 THE CHALLENGE:   Learn the verse or verses for the month.  Find it for me in your Bible and say it to me.  Receive a large gold coin

January:  Joshua 1:9   Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.

 February:  Proverbs 3:3, 4   Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.

 March:  Jeremiah 33:3  Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.

 April:  John 8:12   When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said,  “I am the light of the world,  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

 May:  Proverbs 3: 5, 6   Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding:  in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

June:  Psalm 16:11   You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

 July:  Daniel 12:3   Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.

 August:  Psalm 56:3, 4   When I am afraid, I will trust in you.  In God whose word I praise, In God I trust; I will not be afraid.  What can mortal man do to me?

September  Philippians 4:13   I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

 October:  Ephesians 6:10, 11   Finally be strong in the LORD and in his mighty power.  Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.

 November:  Luke 18:27   Jesus replied,  “What is impossible with men is possible with God.”

  December:  John 3:16   For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

 The Hunt for Gold (part two ages 9 and up)

The Great Riches will be the treasure of wisdom and knowledge of God you have hidden in your heart throughout the year.

 THE CHALLENGE:  Learn the verse or verses for the month. Find it for me in your Bible and say it to me.  Must be 100% correct.  Receive a large gold chocolate coin for each correct verse.

Bonus rewards should be given for naming the books of the Old Testament, naming  the books of the New Testament  and reciting Ephesians 6:17.

January:   Isaiah 45:3  I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel who summons you by name.

February:  Matthew 6:20-21   But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

March:  Jeremiah 32:17   Ah, Sovereign LORD, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm.  Nothing is too hard for you.

April:  Isaiah 40:31   But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

May:  Matthew 17:20   He replied, “Because you have so little faith.  I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move.  Nothing will be impossible for you.”

June:  Psalm 23  The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.  He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.  He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.  Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me.  You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.  You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.  Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

July:  Philippians 2:14   Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.

August:  Psalm 91:1, 2   He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust.”

September:  Isaiah 64:4, 5   Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.  You come to the help of those who gladly do right who remember your ways.

October:  Ephesians 6:12   For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Therefore put on the full armor of God so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

November:  Proverbs 16:16, 17   How much better to get wisdom than gold, to choose understanding rather than silver.  The highway of the upright avoids evil; he who guards his way guards his life.

December:  Philippians 4:19   And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

THE ARMOR OF GOD:   Ephesians 6:17  Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this take up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

The Hunt for DIAMONDS 

The Great Riches will be the treasure of wisdom and knowledge of God you have hidden in your heart throughout the year.

 THE CHALLENGE:   Learn the verse or verses for the month.  Find it for me in your Bible and say it to me.  Must be 100% correct.  Receive a large chocolate gold coin for each correct verse.

January:  Psalm 37:5, 6   Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this:  He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.

February:  Jeremiah 29:11-13   “For I know the plans I have for you,”  declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

March:  I Corinthians 2:9   However, as it is written:  “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.”

April:  Jeremiah 32:19, 20   Great are your purposes and mighty are your deeds.  Your eyes are open to all the ways of men; you reward everyone according to his conduct and as his deeds deserve.  You performed miraculous signs and wonders in Egypt and have continued them to this day, both in Israel and among all mankind, and have gained the renown that is still yours.

May:  Philippians 4:4-7   Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again:  Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all.  The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

June:  Job 22:25, 26   Then the Almighty will be your gold, the choicest silver for you.  Surely then you will find delight in the Almighty and will lift up your face to God.

July:  Philippians 3:14   I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

August:  Hebrews 12:1-2a   Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus…

September:  Proverbs 1:9  For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.  He holds victory in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones.

October:  Matthew 7:26, 27   “But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

November:  Ephesians 2:8, 9   For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.  For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

December:  Ephesians 3:20, 21   Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!  Amen.

Golden Illuminations                                      

                                                                                          

On Saturday October 8, I received an early Christmas present from my daughter.  A beautiful seven week old Golden Retriever puppy from the litter of my grandson’s dog, Lucy.  My grand kids named this puppy Snowball because of his fluffy, thick, white puppy fur.  But I decided to rename him Ladd in honor of the Lad in “Further Adventures of Lad” by Albert Terhune.  This was one of my favorite books as a child along with “Sunnybank, Home of Lad.”  It was said that Lad was a dog of uncanny brain and great loving, loyal heart and with a dancing sense of fun.  A dog with a soul.

My Laddie has all those wonderful traits and brings delight and laughter into our lives every day.  This morning he was doing his own version of ‘dancing for joy’ as he twirled round and round the room somehow managing to kick an old tennis ball with both his front and back paws.  His favorite spot is by my chair or in the kitchen near the stove if I am cooking dinner.  His favorite treat is a sliver of cheese or an ice cube. He likes to be near me wherever I happen to be.

We also have another Golden Retriever named Happy.  He is the grandson of our original dog, Happy. (more about him later).

“Let the light of your face shine upon us, O LORD. You have filled my life with greater joy.”   Psalms 4:6,7

My New Year Resolution:

This year I intend to sit just as close as I can, as often as I can and as long as I can at the feet of Jesus.  What a joy it is to be in His Presence!