By Roger Dean Kiser

Back in the late 1970s, maybe even the early 1980s, my wife and I owned a business selling wood burning stoves.

The bottom had just about fallen out of the business and we hadDecided to move from Brunswick, Georgia, back to Modesto, California. Everything was packed and loaded into the two vehicles. All was readyFor the 3,000 mile cross country trip, except for the two animals and about800 cans of canned meat and vegetables. I have always had this “thing” about having tons of canned food. IHave always had a pantry everywhere I have lived. If there wasn’t a pantryWhen I moved in, I would build one. I guess storing canned food stems back to when I was a young boy inThe orphanage. I have never forgotten the nights I went to bed hungry –My stomach hurting and growling. I remember the days that I had to stealBread crumbs so that whatever boy was locked in the hall closet would haveSomething to eat. There was no way that we would be able to haul all this food acrossCountry. So, it was decided that we would leave it for the next family whoMight rent the house after we moved. I drove to the supermarket to pick up some soft drinks for the trip.As I made my way down the aisle, there were three elderly women blocking Walkway. I stopped and waited hoping that they would move one of theirCarts so that I could get through. I stood there getting a little. The three of them were going through tons of coupons. All atOnce, one of the ladies dropped the coupons and they scattered all over theFloor. I pushed my cart to one side and I got down on my hands and knees andI began gathering up the hundreds of coupons. As I raked them together IHeard the ladies talking among themselves. It appears that the three ofThem had pooled their social security money together in order to buy food The month. I gathered up the coupons and I handed them to one of theWomen. When I looked into one of their carts there must have been 40 or 50Cans of peas. “Boy! You guys sure must love peas,” I said. “They are on sale, five for a dollar,” said the elderly woman. “You eat peas everyday?” I asked them. “Corn will be on sale next month,” said another lady. “Ladies, I have a deal for you. Put all this stuff back and followMe,” I told them. “I know you do not know me from Adam. But we areLeaving for California in a few hours. I have a ton of canned food thatYou can have for free. Peas, corn, canned meat, tuna, chicken in a can.You name it, I got it,” I told them. “The manager knows me here. He willTell you that it is ok.” Within five minutes the ladies were following me to my house. ForMore than 30 minutes we loaded canned goods into their car’s trunk and backSeat. All at once, one of the elderly ladies picked up two cans of cornedBeef hash and held it against her chest. “You’ve got meat! I LIKE MEAT,” said the woman, as she sat down onThe ground and began to cry. “I’ve never seen anyone cry over canned meat before,” I told her. “You’d cry if you got hungry enough,” said one of the other elderly women. “I know,” I said, as I smiled at her, remembering back to my days inThe orphanage. As they drove away I looked over at my wife and I yelled out, “I FEELGOOD — just like the song says.” “Oh, Roger. Let’s go! California here we come!” she said as sheSmiled at me.

Getting In Late, LoL

The other night I was invited out for a night with the guys.I told my wife that I would be home by midnight… “IPromise!”Well, the hours passed quickly and the beer was going downWay too easy. At 3 am, drunk as a skunk, I headed for home.Just as I got in the door, the cuckoo clock in the hallStarted up and cuckooed three times.Quickly, I realized she’d probably wake up, so I cuckooedAnother 9 times. I was really proud of myself for havingSuch a rapid, witty solution, even when smashed, to escape aPossible conflict.The next morning my wife asked me what time I got in, and ITold her 12 o’clock. She didn’t seem disturbed at all. GotAway with that one, I thought!Then she told me we needed a new cuckoo clock. When I askedHer why she said, “Well, last night it cuckooed 3 times,Then said, ‘Oh crap,’ cuckooed 4 more times, cleared itsThroat, cuckooed another 3 times, snickered, cuckooed twiceMore, and then farted.”

The Angel of Abundant Blessings-by Mary Nelson

I woke up feeling sorry for myself. I was tired of hobbling around with a cast on my leg. I’d broken my ankle on a family outing in the country, and now autumn had rushed in overnight. The house was downright chilly. “Brrr,” I shivered. “This would be a good soup day.”

I craved the comfort of a homemade soup. You can’t get that from a can. But my refrigerator didn’t have much to offer, and a trip to the store seemed like too much effort. Still, all day I couldn’t get that soup idea out of my head. Sure would be nice if some dropped down from heaven, I thought at lunchtime.

About five o’clock I opened the front door to get the mail. A gift bag hung on the handle of the storm door. What in the world? I peered inside the bag. Would you believe it? There were four containers labeled with different kinds of homemade soup. Who had delivered this gift from heaven?

I called a friend, thinking it might have been her. No, she wasn’t my soup angel, but guess what. “I’m finishing up a soup right now,” she said, “to bring you for dinner tonight!” So now I had five soups. What an abundant blessing, just when I needed it.

The efficiency expert

The efficiency expert concluded his lecture with a note of caution: “You
Don’t want to try these techniques at home.”

“Why not?” asked somebody from the audience.

“I watched my wife’s routine at breakfast for years,” the expert
Explained. “She made lots of trips between the refrigerator, stove,
Table and cabinets, often carrying a single item at a time. One day I
Told her, ‘Hon, why don’t you try carrying several things at once?'”

“Did it save time?” the guy in the audience asked.

“Actually, yes”, replied the expert. “It used to take her 20 minutes to
Make breakfast. Now I do it in seven.”

Chips and So Much MoreBy Paula Hodges

It was 1967. The year I turned 11 my father was in the hospital with cancer, and it was a very bleak December. There was lots of snow and cold, and an old furnace ruled our household with demands for fuel oil and attention. The neighbor had the required touch on the reset buttons and when awakened by nocturnal phone calls, he never failed to respond with a visit to our basement. On one early dawn foray, he showed me the trick of relays and resets. From then on, half asleep, I went downstairs and pushed buttons, feeling powerful as hot air again pushed through vents upstairs.One night, as I sleepily pushed the sequence to restart the furnace, I looked toward the garage doors. My heart stopped as a jumble of unfamiliar shapes cast odd shadows. The weak flashlight beam revealed a heap of grocery bags. I was now totally confused. Grocery store trips were boring, once-a-month excursions; we never left bags in the garage. Why would there be grocery bags there? But I was sleepy, so I took my cold bare feet back upstairs and into bed.At breakfast next morning, I asked Mom, How come you have all those grocery bags in the garage? She looked at me with her “You have no idea what you’re talking about!” expression. She replied, “It’s probably just detergent boxes,” I interrupted, It’s grocery bags Mom, I’m gonna go see….”Sit” she commanded, “I’ll find out what’s going on.” She was gone so long we got nervous. Then she came slowly up the stairs, her arms full of bags, a disbelieving look on her face. She put the bags on the kitchen table and sent the twins down after the rest. I looked at the bags and then at Mom.These were not our groceries. The things in these bags were things we looked at, but never bought. Potato chips in bright yellow bags, Shredded Wheat, coconut, chocolate chips, jellies, canned soups, Jello! 12 boxes! One bag was meat, another held cheese and fresh vegetables, even cottage cheese and chip dip! Chip dip! Wow! It took forever to put it all away. There was a turkey, cola and so much more. It was like Christmas, better than a birthday, and my mom’s face was young and glad that whole morning.Not until I was a grown woman did I find out the answer to that December mystery. The local grocer, Mr. Weston, had been our Santa Claus. Kind and generous, he had filled those bags to feed the hearts of three lonely kids.To us, it was a miracle. Long after the cottage cheese carton held odd buttons, the feeling of sweet well being stayed on. All through that hard winter we talked about the morning the groceries came.Thank you, Mr. Weston. I just wanted to tell you how much we appreciated the groceries.

Our Feathered Messenger

Remember that although bodies may pass away, the energy that connects you to a loved one is everlasting and can always be felt when you’re open to receiving it.

~Doreen Virtue, Signs from Above

I was never much of a believer in messages from beyond — not until the summer of 1986. A few years earlier, my husband and I had visited my father-in-law in England. His wife had recently passed away, and he seemed anxious to talk about his own mortality. As we gazed at the flowers in the garden, he explained, “You know when I pass, within a couple of days after my death or sooner, you will be visited by a little bird. He will come into your home, and you will wonder how it could possibly happen.”

My husband and I looked at each other, not saying a word and not wanting to discredit my father-in-law. “I know you both think that I am daft, but this visit will come to pass. Until it happened to my good friend, I did not believe it either. I told him that he was crazy. I thought that he had had one too many at the pub. But I swear it is true that it really happened!”

We continued visiting with Dad, and he brought up the subject periodically. Each time, he delivered his message with the same amount of urgency. Even as we were leaving to go home, his parting words were, “Don’t forget the wee bird. It is a sign, and it will happen to you.” We returned home and forgot about his words for the time being.

One morning a few years later, my husband was greeted by the chirping of a tiny bird in our kitchen. “Gail, come quickly. You aren’t going to believe what I have just found!” Strutting around the floor was this little creature. It seemed somewhat bewildered as to where it was, but it did not appear scared. “Could this be the bird your dad spoke about? Was this the sign he predicted would happen?”

We had no idea how this small bird had managed to enter our home. This little fellow should have been very intimidated coming into our house as we lived with four cats. It was extremely fortunate for our visitor that none of the cats appeared. “How did it ever manage to get inside?” I marveled. All the windows and doors were closed. Yet there it was!

view counter

My husband and I spent the next several minutes trying to coax our feathered friend to come closer. It was small, brown and looked like a finch or a sparrow. For some time, it continued to chirp and strut back and forth on the kitchen floor.

I watched as my husband Tony gently spoke to it. “It’s alright, little guy. I will help you get outside.” Eventually, my husband was able to pick it up and cradle it in his open hands. Tony continued to gently stroke the bird while I unlatched the doors leading outside to our garden.

Carefully, my husband raised his hands, allowing our visitor to fly to its freedom. We were in awe at the experience that had just unfolded before us. I could not help thinking that what we had witnessed was indeed the sign that Dad prophesied.

The shrill ringing of the telephone jolted us back to reality. It was my husband’s sister from England. “I have bad news: Dad died early this morning. I found him when I went to take him his tea.” We were in shock. He had not been ill.

From that moment on, I became convinced that Dad had visited us on that warm summer day. He was letting us know that he was okay and we were loved. I will always be grateful for our feathered messenger and the wonderful lesson he taught me.

— Gail Sellers —

A Dog’s Diary

5:30am: Started the day as a hero! When the sound of the newspaper hitting the driveway roused me from my deep slumber — the impact indicating the paper was much heavier than normal — I realized that no one in the house was yet awake! I roused my master by licking him in the face. He appeared very angry with himself for having overslept, shouting and waving his arms. His ill temper even seemed directed at me a bit, which is silly since it is I who saved him from being fired. Funny thing though: He didn’t go into work, but spent the morning leafing through the large newspaper and drinking coffee. He seems to do this once a week, and I don’t know why.

7:30am: Invaders! The people who live next door came out into their yard, obviously getting ready to lay siege to our house. Snarling and barking, I let them know in no uncertain terms that I was prepared to tear them from limb to limb it they came any closer, and was able to repel the invasion. This is an almost daily occurrence; you’d think they’d learn. My master added his voice to the fray as well, yelling angrily. I am sure the people couldn’t hear him, but it was nice of him to lend his support.

10:00am: I was forced to move, as the patch of sun in which I was lying had, for some reason, slid over a few feet. It’s not easy being a dog.

1:00pm: I have the most thoughtful master in the world! While it’s true he left me alone in the house for several hours, he did set out a treat for me on the kitchen counter. It was even gift-wrapped, a courtesy I wish he’d skipped, since it led to me having a lot of plastic in my teeth. The roast was delicious, though frozen in the center. I don’t want to seem ungrateful, but crunching through two inches of rock-hard beef is hardly my idea of a delicacy.

2:00pm: Most unpleasant experience when my master returned home and was furious that I had not eaten the plastic wrap which had been covering my present. He kept pointing at the small pieces of Styrofoam and other debris and raving in a most irrational fashion. I’m sorry, but he should know that I can’t eat that stuff; it makes my stomach upset. When he began rolling up a newspaper I realized he’d lost all reason and bolted for the front door, which was fortunately open just a crack.

4:00pm: Spent the afternoon with the girls. A most productive day; I was able to mark territory for two blocks. “Drip ’til you drop” is our motto. We had a small snack at an outdoor cafe we like, with meat scraps and bread served out of circular containers with easily displaced lids. Ran into that rogue Sebastian, who lifted his leg with irritating nonchalance — does he think I don’t know about his obsession with Muffy, that snotty schnauzer from down the road? Last month there wasn’t a male in the neighborhood who couldn’t be found outside her fence, and Sebastian was at the head of the pack. I let him know I want nothing more to do with him.

5:00pm-What a treat! On the way home a flock of ravens drew my attention to a squirrel that had been flattened by an automobile. After several days in the sun, the aroma was so delicious it made my nose quiver. I rolled in the wondrous fragrance for several minutes, and when I stood up I positively radiated eau de roadkill. Let Sebastian drool over Muffy — he doesn’t know what he’s missing.

6:00pm: Of all the times to get a bath! My master, still in a foul mood, made me stand outside in the chill air while he shampooed and rinsed me several times. Every time I shook the water from my fur he, too, became drenched, and in the end he was shivering. Why in the world does he do stuff like this?

9:00pm: Time to sleep, though I am not allowed on the bed whenever anyone’s home. Ah, the life of a dog.

Advice from An Old Farmer

Your fences need to be horse-high, pig-tight and bull-strong.Keep skunks and bankers at a distance.Life is simpler when you plow around the stump.A bumble bee is considerably faster than a John Deere tractor.Words that soak into your ears are whispered… not yelled.Meanness don’t jes’ happen overnight.Forgive your enemies; it messes up their heads.Do not corner something that you know is meaner than you.It don’t take a very big person to carry a grudge.You cannot unsay a cruel word.Every path has a few puddles.When you wallow with pigs, expect to get dirty.The best sermons are lived, not preached.Most of the stuff people worry about ain’t never gonna happen anyway.Don’t judge folks by their relatives.Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.Live a good, honorable life… Then when you get older and think back, you’ll enjoy it a second time.Don’t interfere with somethin’ that ain’t bothering you none.Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance.If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop diggin’.Sometimes you get, and sometimes you get got.The biggest troublemaker you’ll probably ever have to deal with, watches you from the mirror every mornin’.Always drink upstream from the herd.Good judgment comes from experience, and a lotta that comes from bad judgment.Lettin’ the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier than puttin’ it back in.If you get to thinkin’ you’re a person of some influence, try orderin’ somebody else’s dog around..Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. Leave the rest to God.Don’t pick a fight with an old man. If he is too old to fight, he’ll just kill you.Most times, it just gets down to common sense.

A Shower A Day

I always love to start the morning off with a nice, long shower. Now, I am not talking about a shower with soap, hot water, and shampoo even though I love those too. The shower that I am talking about is the kind that takes place on the inside. The shower that I am talking about is the kind that takes place in the heart, mind, and soul. It is a shower that is best taken daily, all day long, and everyday of our lives. It is a shower of love, joy, and goodness that all of us can enjoy. I always start my own shower off with a huge thank you to God. I thank God for the day, for my life, for my family, for my friends, for my pets, and for the countless blessings I am given. I give thanks for health and happiness, nature and beauty, and love and joy. Giving thanks to God always leaves me feeling good, clean, and happy inside. I don’t stop there, though. I keep my shower of delight going by seeing the good all around me. I see it in the world, in the people I know, and in my own heart, mind, and soul. I see it and choose it and welcome it into me. I take in all the goodness, love, joy, peace, happiness, and light that I possibly can. I fill myself to overflowing with all the wonderful blessings of life, because this is what I want to share with the world. You see, my shower of love, joy, goodness, and delight wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t shower it on others as well. I shower these blessings on others with every smile I smile, hug I give, helpful thing I do, kind word I say, and happy thought I write. Nothing gives me greater fulfillment than to shower these things on everyone everywhere. You too can shower your life and the lives of others with love, joy, goodness, and God. It is up to you. Just remember, though, a shower a day keeps the misery away.

Joseph J. Mazzella

A Sweet Answer to Her Prayer- Angela Logan

I was up to my elbows in cake batter when I heard a sharp rapping at the front door of the house. Coming! I shouted from the kitchen.I hoped it was my fiancé, Melvin, with supplies for more cakes.Not Melvin. A stranger, a woman with a rigid expression.Are you Ms. Angela Logan? she asked.Yes.I’m from the health department. You need to cease baking and selling cakes from your home. Immediately.Stop making my cakes? There must be some mistake…It’s a health-code violation. You cannot sell baked goods from your home. They must be made in a state-approved commercial kitchen. She handed me a notice and left.I shut the door and sank to the floor. Lord, no! I cried.Those cakes were my last hope to save my house. If I sold a hundred apple cakes, that would give me enough to make the first of three payments to qualify for a mortgage-loan modification.Melvin and my teenage sons, Marcus, William and Nick, had helped me spread the word. A reporter from the local paper had even interviewed me, though I had yet to see the story in print. I’d gotten quite a few orders already. How could I fulfill them if I couldn’t bake? And that payment was due in five days!I buried my face in my apron. What was I thinking? I wasn’t a business owner. I wasn?t even a professional baker.I was an actress. I’d dreamed of making it big in the movies. It never happened. I’d done commercials, one-woman shows, had bit parts on TV. I made enough to get by, but with three college-bound boys, I needed a regular paycheck.So I enrolled in a nursing program at the community college and found side work as a hairstylist.Then the storm hit. The recession of 2009, and an actual storm that left our roof, windows and top floor in shambles. I hired a contractor to fix the damage, but he took our money and ran. Not long after that, my talent agency went under and I didn’t get paid for acting jobs I’d already done.I fell behind on mortgage payments. Foreclosure notices rolled in. A credit counselor worked with me to apply for the loan-modification program. The catch was, I had to make three trial payments to qualify. How in the world would I do that?The idea came in a flash of inspiration: cake! What if I baked and sold cakes? Cake makes people happy. I learned that from my grandma Melissa.The highlight of my childhood Sundays after church was going to Grandma’s and having home-baked treats, like her famous glazed lemon cake. While my brothers and sister devoured their pieces, I studied mine. Did she use real lemon juice? How did she get it to smell so yummy? Grandma, seeing my interest, taught me her secrets, like using only the best and freshest ingredients.I developed my own specialty raising my boys as a single mom. Apple cake using the freshest Gala and Delicious apples, Saigon cinnamon, organic sugar, cream-cheese frosting. It was the boys? favorite (they’d even hide pieces in their rooms!) and a big hit at school bake sales and church functions.Then I reconnected with an old friend, Melvin George. We fell in love, and he fell in love with my apple cake too.When I floated the idea of baking my way out of foreclosure, he was all for it.You bake and I’ll deliver, he said. Normally the boys rolled their eyes at any idea of mine (teenagers!) but this time they were totally into it.That’s how Mortgage Apple Cakes came to be, just 10 days before I had to make my first loan-modification payment. If I sold a hundred cakes at 40 dollars each, that would cover the payment and then some. But would people pay that much? And who would I ask?You’ve got to tell everyone you know that you’re in trouble and need their help, Melvin said.That was going to be hard. I was used to making it on my own. All these years as a struggling actress, the only one I’d ever asked for help was the Lord.I swallowed my pride and wrote an e-mail. Buy a Cake, Save a Home? was the subject line. I explained my situation and ended with, Would you be willing to help me? I sent it to everyone on my contacts list.I even admitted my problem to my nursing-school classmates. I stood up in class one day and said, I’m selling cakes to save my home. Would any of you like to buy one? Hands shot up.We got 42 orders in four days. I couldn’t believe it. Maybe I could pull this off after all! Even with only one mixer and four cake pans.But now the health department had shut me down. How could I have been so foolish as to think cake could save my house? I dried my eyes on my apron and broke the news to Melvin and the boys. It’s over, I said. There’s nothing else I can do.There is one thing we can do, Melvin reminded me gently. We can pray.And we did. Lord, I know those apple cakes weren’t my last hope, I prayed. There’s always hope when I turn to you. I called the reporter who’d interviewed me and all but begged him to get the paper to print the story. I’m running out of time, I told him.Actually, your story will run tomorrow, he said. It’ll be in the obituaries section.I groaned. He might as well have told me the story was dead. Who would see it in the obits?Turns out: just about everyone! The manager of a nearby Hilton hotel called and offered me the use of their kitchen. I was whisked away in a limo to appear on a national news program. Orders poured in from all over the country, so many we could hardly keep up.The boys set up a website and Melvin helped with shipping. Those apple cakes saved our house after all.Now, five years later, Mortgage Apple Cakes is a full-fledged business. I’m proud to say a portion of the profits goes to helping folks in financial trouble.Oh, and remember how I dreamed about making it in the movies? Producers at the UP network heard my story and found it so inspiring, they made a movie out of it!

A Walk in the Park- Judy Ann Eichstedt

Faith is not without worry or care, but faith is fear that has said a prayer.~Author UnknownI am not a person who puts too much faith in dreams. I always seem to find a logical explanation for them. However, something happened that made me realize that God talks to us in dreams, as do our loved ones who have passed away.It happened when things were at an all-time low for us. We had become homeless just months before, and we finally were able to save enough to get back into a house. My husband had not found work, and we had no money. Many times I went to the Dumpsters in the back of grocery stores to find food for my family. It was a dark time.I wanted to give up and throw in the towel. It was hard to see how things would improve. When you’re eating from garbage cans, it’s hard to stay positive. However, my faith in God and reading the Bible kept me strong even in difficult times.We were living in Oregon in a two-bedroom house with six children and no utilities. With no running water, I had to get water in a bucket from a neighbor’s house. I needed $150, as a deposit, to turn on the water and lights. I just could not come up with the money.On a Sunday night I poured out my heart to God and told him how much money I needed for the utilities. I felt as if I was at the end of my rope. I did not know what to do. That night I had a very strange dream. In the distance I saw a campfire with men sitting around it. As I walked closer, I saw tents and horses as well. It looked like they were soldiers in the Civil War. All the men wore uniforms that fit the time period. The men were looking down at the fire as I walked up to them. Then one man looked up at me and smiled. He had a very big smile and he acted as if he knew me. I just stared at him. He had a pleasant face, but he looked tired. We looked at one another for a moment or two before he spoke.”Take a walk in the park,” he said. His voice was strong.”What did you say?” I asked.He repeated, “Take a walk in the park.””Who are you?””Parkhurst,” he said. “I am called Parkhurst. It’s a family name.” And he laughed.I woke up and remembered every detail of the dream.The next morning I walked to the store to return some bottles for the deposit, and right next to the store was a little park off to the side. I froze as I stared at it and recalled my dream. I walked away, into the store. As I headed home, Parkhurst’s words came to me. I turned around and went back to the park. I did not see anyone in the park, so I started on the walking trail. Around the corner I saw a woman jogging toward me so I moved over for her to pass. I kept walking and looking for some reason I was there, but found none. Then someone touched me on my back and I turned to see the jogger.”Hello,” she said. “You must be the one.””I don’t understand,” I told her.”I dreamt last night that someone needed some money, and I handed it to them at a park,” she said.My mouth fell open but I did not say a word. She handed me an envelope, said “God bless you,” and off she went. I yelled “thank you” when I could talk again. I opened the envelope, and there was $150. I had to sit down.I went over and over what had happened. I prayed and had a dream with a message from a strange man, and this woman had a dream and knew how much money I needed. I could not believe it, for nothing like that had ever happened to me. I hurried home to tell everyone.It was not until twenty years later, when I took up genealogy, that I discovered a man named Parkhurst Shurlock who served in the Civil War. He was a sergeant in the 100th Co. D. I could not believe what I was reading. He was my great-great-grandfather.As I did more research I learned the name Parkhurst was a family name, and to keep it alive they used it as a first name. About three years ago I found a photo tintype of Parkhurst Shurlock. It was without a doubt the man in my dream. I had come face to face with my great-great-grandfather.

Cloud bread


1 1/8 cups Eggland’s Best 100% Egg Whites, at room temperature

1/4 tsp cream of tartar

Pinch of Salt

2 oz Cream Cheese, Softened


  1. Preheat oven to 300°F. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper.
  2. Pour 1 cup of Eggland’s Best Liquid Egg Whites into a medium bowl, add cream of tartar and salt, then beat with a hand mixer until stiff peaks form, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. In a separate bowl, add cream cheese and the remainder of the egg whites, then, beat until combined.
  4. Gently fold the whipped egg whites into the cream cheese mixture.
  5. Divide batter into 8 clouds on prepared baking sheet, spacing 4” apart.
  6. Options – Sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds.
  7. Bake until golden, 25 to 30 minutes
  8. Options – While hot to sprinkle with cheese
  9. Let cool slightly

A heavenly chef

Monday night madness, I thought, glancing at my kitchen clock. Church orchestra practice was in less than half an hour, and I still had things to take care of—cook some chicken to take for lunch that week, feed the dogs, change out of my work clothes.I filled a pot with water and stuck it on the stove, turning the gas burner up high. Orange flames licked the metal. Hurry, hurry. I stared at the pot, then caught myself. A watched pot never boils, I thought. I set the chicken next to the stove, all ready to go.Now the dogs. “Bubba, Paco, dinner!” Our six-year-old basset hound and five-year-old Lab mix scampered in. They eyed the chicken on the counter. “No, no,” I said. I scooped kibble into their bowls and they chowed down.By then the water was rolling furiously, so I threw the chicken in. Finally I glanced at the clock again. Gotta get a move on!I ran to my bedroom and changed. “Go play,” I told the dogs, letting them out into our fenced-in yard. Then I grabbed my keys and headed to church. I made it to my seat at the chimes just as everyone else finished tuning their instruments. Phew!Practice went well. We were all getting our parts down and I felt confident about mine. It wasn’t till I was pulling out of my parking space afterward that it hit me. The chicken. I’d left the pot boiling!I tried not to break the speed limit on the drive home, but dreadful visions filled my head. Everything we owned burned to ashes. The dogs, were they safe? Lord, I prayed, things are just things, but please, watch over Bubba and Paco!I turned onto our street. No flames or smoke or fire trucks. The house looked fine from the outside. The dogs were fine too, romping in the yard.Inside, I didn’t smell any smoke. I rushed to the stove, turned off the burner and peered into the pot.The chicken wasn’t burned. There was still plenty of water sloshing around in the pot—two and a half hours after I had left it boiling. Two and a half hours!Someone was watching the pot after all.

A Sense of Worth

It’s so easy to take those people who are closestTo us for granted. After all they know we love andRespect them don’t they? Yet we’ve all had theExperience of feeling unappreciated in our ownHomes. It’s not so much that we need to pleaseEveryone all the time, but we do need someAcknowledgment of what we do for others andSome recognition for what we accomplish.Following are a few of the things we can do toHelp make sure that everyone in our householdFeels valued.So much is going on in a house that it is easy toBe distracted. How often we listen to others withJust half an ear without even realizing it. Yet eachPerson needs to be heard and to feel theirOpinions are valued by others. Take a moment toVisualize your home. Does it have a quiet placeWhere people can converse with full attention onEach other? Are their places where each personCan really feel listened to? If your TV room is alsoYour living room are there times when the TV isTurned off so people can talk together? Even inThe kitchen is there a place you sit down andReally listen when needed? At bedtime do yourChildren have a chance to talk with you? ABedtime story can help open up conversation.Look for ways you can foster communication inYour home. When we are truly listened to we feelRecognized.Birthdays and holidays are special to mostFamilies. But there are many other occasionsWhen we can celebrate accomplishments orHallmarks in our home. How about the day yourBaby takes his first step or your daughter playsHer first soccer game? Are the adults included?It can mean a lot to mom if the family does aSomething to honor her first published poem orA finished painting. Recognition of little eventsCan mean even more than big events as theyAren’t just expected. Making a joyous occasionOf occasions like this helps each person knowThat their dreams and efforts are worthwhile.Celebration doesn’t have to cost much money.When we make a special meal or create aHandmade gift for someone we are giving fromThe warmth of our heart. Sometimes just aComputer made banner or a vase of flowersFrom the garden is all that is needed to make aHousehold member feel special. DisplayingCreative work or awards in a prominent placeShows we value ourselves and each other.Often in our busy-ness and discomfiture withCompliments we miss letting in the appreciationThat others do express. By the free giving ofSincere compliments and by showing ourGratitude when others do something to honor usWe gradually learn to be more comfortableReceiving the gift of recognition. To feelRecognized and worthy is far different than falsePride which actually comes from a place ofFeeling unworthy. When we are quietly confidantThat our accomplishments are recognized weFeel a sense of fullness and are able to easilyGive of ourselves to others.~~Anne Johnson~~

A Man Named Caesar

Unselfish and noble actions are the most radiant pages in the biography of souls.~David Thomas“

“Excuse me. Could you help me please?” I looked over and saw an older, gray-haired man waiting on the steps. He was near the sidewalk in front of my apartment complex.I had never seen anyone stand there before, so it took me by surprise. I usually parked in the back lot, but that day there were no spaces available so I had parked out front.My neighbors were walking right by him as if he didn’t exist. “What’s wrong?” I asked.The man had a timid stance, with his shoulders hunched over and his hands shaking. He hesitated, then walked toward me. I couldn’t help but notice his disheveled appearance. His clothes hung from his thin frame and his hair stuck out in all directions.“My name is Caesar. I’ve been here for a while asking for help. People walk by, yet no one sees or hears me.”I was already running late and still needed to pack my car so I could get to my parents’ on time. I was hoping I wouldn’t have to call to say I’d be late again.I looked into his eyes and knew that being there with him then was more important than being on time.My neighborhood wasn’t always the safest. I’d been afraid there before, which affected how I lived my life. I made sure I got home before dark. I installed alarms on the doors and windows, and I always checked the locks twice before going to bed. Still, I worried.Oddly, here was a total stranger, yet instead of fear I felt only peace. In fact, the closer he came, the stronger the feeling became.“What can I do to help?” I asked.“I’m lost, and I don’t have any money for the bus. I haven’t eaten anything today, and I’m so hungry.”He looked so sad that he had to ask for help. I could feel how afraid he was. I wanted to take care of him and help any way I could.I was lost in a different way, so I knew how hard it was to ask. I was a single mom who could no longer meet the rigors of a physically demanding and stressful job. I had ongoing health issues. I had a little savings but no income. I had my family’s support, and I was grateful for that, but it left me feeling guilty and ashamed. How could I repay the kindness I’d been shown? I couldn’t begin to imagine.I gave Caesar exact change for the bus and money for food.“Thank you,” he said with tears in his eyes. “Can I give you a hug?”I immediately said “Yes,” surprising myself. Hugging was not something I often did. I usually kept to myself, especially that year when my disability and aimlessness had made me feel so bad about myself.We reached out for each other at the same time. While we were hugging, he kept thanking me.“Thank you. Thank you. I will go home and pray for you.” He had the sweetest energy around him. As the tears streamed down his face and onto my jacket, he looked up and showed his radiant smile. Then he hugged me again.Euphoria spread throughout my being. I was in the clouds during the whole exchange, and I found later that I was able to revisit that state whenever I thought of him. I was so down, and it was so life-changing for me to be able to help someone else for once.Caesar kept thanking me and then he hugged me one last time.I ran inside to get something for him to eat until he could buy food.When I came back out, he was nowhere in sight. There wasn’t a soul around. I didn’t hear cars or the bus as I normally would have. I was gone less than a minute.I went down to the sidewalk and looked up and down the block but he wasn’t anywhere.Wherever you are, Caesar, I thank you for changing my life that day. I pray that you are safe, and someone is taking care of you. I think of you and know that you are wishing the same for me.I’m glad that back parking lot was full.~

Andrea Engel