Twinkies and Root Beer

A little boy wanted to meet God. He knew it was a long trip to where God lived, so he packed his suitcase with Twinkies and a six-pack of Root Beer and he started his journey. When he had gone about three blocks, he met an elderly man. The man was sitting in the park just feeding some pigeons. The boy sat down next to him and opened his suitcase. He was about to Take a drink from his root beer when he noticed that the man looked Hungry, so he offered him a Twinkie. The man gratefully accepted it and smiled at boy. His smile was so pleasant that the boy wanted to see it again, so he offered him a root Beer. Again, the man smiled at him. The boy was delighted! They sat there all afternoon eating and smiling, but they never said a word.As it grew dark, the boy realized how tired he was and he got up to Leave, but before he had gone more than a few steps, he turned around, Ran back to the man, and gave him a hug. The man gave him his biggest smile ever. When the boy opened the door to his own house a short time later, his Mother was surprised by the look of joy on his face. She asked him, “What did you do today that made you so happy? “He replied, “I had lunch with God.” But before his mother could Respond, he added, “You know what? God’s got the most beautiful smile I’ve ever seen!”Meanwhile, the elderly man, also radiant with joy, returned to his home. His son was stunned by the look of peace on his face and he asked,” Dad, what did you do today that made you so happy?”He replied, “I ate Twinkies in the park with God.” However, before his Son responded, he added,” You know, he’s much younger than I expected.”

That Darned Cat

A man absolutely hated his wife’s cat and decided to get rid of him one day by driving him 20 blocks from his home and leaving him at the park. As he was getting home, the cat was walking up the driveway. The next day he decided to drive the cat 40 blocks away. He put the beast out and headed home. Driving back up his driveway, there was the cat! He kept taking the cat further and further and the cat would always beat him home. At last he decided to drive a few miles away, turn right, then left, past the bridge, then right again and another right until he reached what he thought was a safe distance from his home and left the cat there. Hours later the man calls home to his wife: “Jen, is the cat there?” “Yes”, the wife answers, “why do you ask?” Frustrated, the man answered, “Put that darned cat on the phone. I’m lost and need directions!”

Olive Garden Spinach and Artichoke Dip


Ingredients

  • 1 (14-ounce) can of sliced artichokes
  • 16 ounces of cream cheese at room temperature
  • 8 ounces mascarpone cheese at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons flour (see note)
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • 1 clove of garlic, very finely minced
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • 6 ounces of baby spinach leaves, chopped into roughly 1-inch pieces
  •  
  • For Serving
  • Baguette
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Spray a 7 x 10 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, combine all dip ingredients, stirring until completely mixed. Spoon into prepared bake dish, smoothing the top. Bake for 25 minutes until just lightly browned on top.
  3. Slice baguette inch thick and brush slices on both sides with olive oil. Broil for 3 – 4 minutes on each side until golden brown.

Notes

-The dip should be served while warm. To make ahead, combine all ingredients in the bake dish, wrap tightly and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before baking.
Baguette slices may be broiled several hours ahead of serving. Keep at room temperature, uncovered until serving time.

-For Gluten Free diners: the flour in this recipe is necessary to keep the fresh spinach from causing the dip to be watery. For a Gluten Free version, simply toss the spinach leaves with 2 tablespoons Gluten Free flour before stirring them into the rest of the ingredients.

The Whistling Pete~

~The American Flag, fireworks, friends, picnics, chicken, Hot dogs, baked beans parades, and celebrations are all Part of the Fourth of July. A happy day…. At least for Most of us. “Hi,” was the greeting one mid afternoon as a customer Approached the fireworks booth. “Need anything Particular?” I asked. “Yes,” came the reply of a fortyish year old man. “I need A firecracker.” he solemnly said.”Would you like to see one of our package displays?” IAsked.”No, just one,” he replied.”Well, lets see we have fountains, poppers, smoke balls and Whistlers.””I need just one firecracker, ” he again asked.”How old is the child?” I asked although he had not told Me it was for a child.”Doesn’t matter,” he said as he became resolved to find just The right one.It was clear that the child must be special and the 4th of July. But I somehow found it hard to believe that just one Firecracker could remedy whatever it was that was going On between this father and child.”How about a party popper. This makes a pop and sprinkles Confetti.””No, that won’t do. It can’t make a mess.””A fountain perhaps?” I was trying to help him find what He was looking for with the little information that he Allowed me. Suddenly, the man reached up and running his hand up The side of his face, flushed with frustration and across His eyes he finally said; “I ….I want this for my sons grave And I don’t want to make a mess in the mausoleum.”If one heart could touch another, this gentle man had Truly touched mine. He was right, the age didn’t matter, Parades, fireworks, hot-dogs or celebrations. None of it Mattered at this moment for him and his son. All that Mattered was this man’s overwhelming need to share a Special occasion with one he held dear, deep within his Heart. “This may be what your looking for,” I said as I held up A Whistling Pete. It makes an extremely loud whistle for Quite awhile and no mess at all.” Suddenly I had a feeling That this was what he was searching for.”Thanks,” said the man as he continued to struggle with His entire being to maintain his bearing. Its exactly what I want.”A bit overwhelmed myself by what he had shared; I was About to offer it to him free of charge but caught a glimpse Of the pain in his watering eyes. This was to be a gift from Him to his son. “That will be fifty cents, sir.” I said in the most business Like voice that I could muster. Quietly he placed two Quarters into my hand and thanked me for my help. With All the dignity he could muster although the tears had Begun to flow freely down his face he turned and walked Back to his car, clutching tightly in his hand the gift for His son. If God was anywhere on this fourth of July….he Surely was standing with his hand on the shoulder of This devoted father as he knelt at the crypt of his son. With one shrill sound being heard above all the others During the laughter and bursts of fireworks at other Celebrations … A sound just loud enough to drown out The uncontrollable sobs of a loving father; a sound I Have no doubt was being heard in heaven.Whistling Pete ~Author Unknown

THE MARK OF ANGELS

Many years ago my husband and I visited Bern, the charming capitol ofSwitzerland. One evening, we had a night free of planned activities. Feeling liberated from itineraries, we wandered through the medievalStreets into the heart of Bern. The warm evening breeze had lured swarmsOf people into the town’s square. Old men played checkers at cement tablesAmid musicians, jugglers and other assorted street performers. Frank and IPaused to drink in the carnival of sights and sounds. An American accent rang out above the bustle. I grabbed Frank’s handAnd pulled him toward the sound of home. “One’ Two’ Three!” A burst of laughter erupted from the crowd around a juggler. I movedIn closer, drawn in by his act and familiar accent. After a finale of quick-handed magic tricks, appreciative onlookersThrew coins and moved on. As the juggler bent down to collect the loose change, I felt compelledTo connect. “Excuse me. Uh, I liked your act.” The Juggler looked up with a surprised expression, as if he didn’tExpect anyone to stay around. “Hey, thanks! You sound like an American.” I laughed, admitting that I’d been drawn to speak with him, maybeBecause of his Yankee accent too. As travelers tend to do, I politelyAsked him what part of the States he was from. “California.” The Juggler replied. “And you guys?” I responded in the same general way. “Pennsylvania. OutsidePhiladelphia.” The juggler stopped picking up coins. “Oh! Where outside Philadelphia?” I was slightly taken aback. Why did the name of the town matter if heWas from California? Feeling silly, but strangely compelled to talk, IAnswered. “Havertown.” The Juggler’s jaw dropped and his bearded face softened. He spokeBarely above a whisper. “I went to Haverford High School.” Now Frank caught the compulsion to talk. “But I thought you said you were from California?” The Juggler got up off his knees and sat on the edge of a concreteFlower container. He drew in a breath and poured out a story he’d longLocked away. “I discovered I loved to perform while I was in high school. I wantedTo study the Arts in college but my stepfather felt I should study aSerious subject — like dentistry or something. I felt I had no choice, soI went to college in California, but I couldn’t study what I didn’t love.Rather than go home and face my stepfather, I left the States to travelAround Europe. I haven’t seen my mother in 7 years.” After further discussion, Frank and I learned that his mother livedThree minutes from our house. In fact, I drove past her home every day onThe way to work. We stood in awe of the “coincidence” of our meeting. The Juggler broke the silence. “If I give you my mother’s number,Would you call her for me when you get back home? Would you tell her I’mOkay?” As a mother of two, I ached for this woman who was separated from herSon. I nodded a tearful yes. I tucked the number away and the three of us parted, forever changedBy a chance meeting thousands of miles from home. On the plane ride back to the States, I worried out loud to Frank.”What if his mother is angry? What if she doesn’t want to hear from me?” Frank squeezed my hand and said, “You already know the right thing to do.” Once back in Havertown, I picked up the phone and put it back in theCradle countless times. But, I couldn’t ignore the strong inner voice thatUrged me to call. After taking a deep breath, I dialed the number on theCrumpled piece of paper. A woman answered the phone. I spoke quickly –Before I lost my nerve. “Hello. You don’t know me but…” The story of our trip to Bern spilled out, rapidly reaching the partWhere we met the Juggler in the town square. As I relayed her son’sGreeting, the woman cried. “Oh, Thank God!” In a voice thick with emotion, her questions tumbled out one afterAnother. “How did he look? Was he well? Is he okay?” I found myself in the peculiar position of describing a son to hisMother. I assured her that he was healthy, making a nice living and seemedTo be doing fine. I described the Juggler’s hair, his beard and hisRequest that I make contact with her. The Juggler’s mom spoke between sobs. “My son sent me a letter last year saying he was thinking of comingHome. He said the next time I heard from him would be a sign that he’d beHome soon. Thank you! Thank you so much for calling!” After I hung up the phone, I wondered about the odds of meeting theJuggler at just the right place, at just the right time and at just theRight moment in his life. I smiled through tears of my own and knew thatChance had nothing to do with it. Signs, coincidences, accidental meetings, inner voices — all the markOf angels at work.

The Treasure of Contentment- Richard Albertse

One sunny autumn afternoon in March, 1976, a friend and I peddled hard up an incline towards his house. The sun shimmered brightly off Tom’s black, thick-framed bicycle. You would never see his bike with so much as a grain of dirt on it. I had a state-of-the-art ten-speed racing bike. I shifted gears, and as I bent over, I got a glimpse of Tom’s shining school shoes. My quiet friend was always neat and tidy, but his clothes were old and worn. Not for the first time, I wondered if he owned anything else.We turned into a street lined with small dilapidated railway houses. Tom opened a gate, and through we went. I got off my bike and leaned it against the garage wall. It was a small, whitewashed house. The tiny patch of lawn was neatly mowed. Tom’s mother was hanging up washing a few steps from a beautiful flower bed. The three shrubs I could see were perfectly trimmed.We went in by the back door. The kitchen had a sink cupboard with white and pink striped lace curtains; a small kitchen table with three chairs stood between a thin corner cupboard and an ancient stove. Everything was spotlessly clean.All in all, I counted only five rooms. Tom had a bed, a one-door closet, a table, and the fourth kitchen chair in his room. A couple of books leaned against the wall in one corner of the table, and on the other corner stood a model steam engine – Tom’s pride. The wheels were slightly elevated from the table-top. Tom opened a small bottle and poured the whole contents – a few teaspoons of special fuel – into the model steam engine. He pressed a button and stood back, sighing. His face was a mask of anticipation. We held our breaths. A minute or two passed. Then a wisp of thin smoke escaped the funnel. Tom leaned down and gently shifted a small lever. The machine started huffing and puffing. The wheels turned – first slowly, and then faster and faster. The smoke now bellowed out in small blue-grey misty clouds. Three minutes ticked by. All too soon, the engine stuttered and died. I looked up into Tom’s face. His face was cracked open wide with a great big smile. He was so happy!I grew up in a home where wealth was constantly gradually increasing. My wardrobe grew from only two sets of hand-me-down Safari suits and school clothes to a substantial number of expensive, new, fashionable clothes. I took it all for granted. We weren’t rich, but we were definitely not poor. But I was still a kid. I did not appreciate what I had ¦ until I visited Tom’s house.There I was, in this plain and simple house. These people had almost nothing, yet they were happy and content. The contrast between my wealth and my friend Tom’s poor existence were so great. I got perspective. I will never forget how happy and content they were, with so little.It is better to have less to live with, and more to live for. Thank you, Tom, for unknowingly teaching me the value of being content with what I’ve got.

Racing ~

~Charlie was a regular visitor at the race track. One afternoon heNoticed an unusual sight. Right before the first race, a Catholic Priest visited one of the horses in the stable area and gave it a Blessing. Charlie watched the horse race very carefully, and sure Enough the blessed horse came in first!Charlie followed the priest before the next race, and again the Priest went to the stables and performed a similar procedure. Charlie Played a hunch and put a couple of dollars on the blessed horse. Sure Enough, the blessed horse came in by two lengths and Charlie won Close To fifty bucks! The priest continued the same procedure through the Next few races and the horse won each time.So between races Charlie left the track and went to the bank toWithdraw his life’s savings, $20,000. The biggest race of the day wasThe last one. Charlie followed the priest and watched carefully whichHorse he blessed.He then went to the betting window and put his whole bundle of cash onThat horse, to win. Then Charlie went out to watch the horses race.Down the stretch they came and as they crossed the finish line, theHorse Charlie’s fortune was bet on was far behind … Dead last!Charlie was crushed.He located the priest and told him that he had been watching him blessThe horses which all became winners throughout the day. Charlie thenAsked, “What happened to the last horse which you blessed? Because ofYour failure on that last horse, I have lost my entire life’s Savings.””That’s the trouble with you Protestants,” sighed the priest, “youNever could tell the difference between a blessing and the Last Rites.”

Clay Balls

A man was exploring caves by the seashore. In one of the caves he found A canvas bag with a bunch of hardened clay balls. It was like someone Had rolled clay balls and left them out in the sun to bake. They didn’t look like much, but they intrigued the man, so he took the Bag out of the cave with him. As he strolled along the beach, he would Throw The clay balls one at a time out into the ocean as far as he could. He thought little about it, until he dropped one of the clay balls and It cracked open on a rock. Inside was a beautiful, precious stone! Excited, the man started breaking open the remaining clay balls. Each Contained a similar treasure. He found thousands of dollars worth of Jewels in the 20 or so clay balls he had left. Then it struck him. He had been on the beach a long time. He had thrown maybe 50 or 60 of The clay balls with their hidden treasure into the ocean waves. Instead Of Thousands of dollars in treasure, he could have taken home tens of Thousands, but he had just thrown it away! It’s like that with people. We look at someone, maybe even ourselves, And we see the external clay vessel It doesn’t look like much from the Outside. It isn’t always beautiful or sparkling, so we discount it. We see that person as less important than someone more beautiful or Stylish or well known or wealthy But we have not taken the time to find The treasure hidden inside that person. There is a treasure in each one of us. If we take the time to get to Know that person, and if we ask God to show us that person the way He Sees them, then the clay begins to peel away and the brilliant gem Begins to shine forth. May we not come to the end of our lives and find out that we have thrown Away a fortune in friendships because the gems were hidden in bits of Clay. May we see the people in our world as God sees them. I am so blessed by the gems of friendship I have with each of you. Thank You for looking beyond My clay vessel.