God's Roadmap

Now may the Lord Jesus Christ and our Father God, who loved us and in his wonderful grace gave us eternal comfort and a beautiful hope that cannot fail, encourage your hearts and inspire you with strength to always do and speak what is good and beautiful in his eyes (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 TPT).

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Emergency Santas

The following is an email I received from a friend who has been in the Emergency Services field for many years. Remember to thank these public servants this holiday season. This post is lengthy but it is well worth taking the time to read.

From my 38 years in the field of Emergency Medical Services, I found this to be quite interesting.   Over the 25 plus years I “rode” the ambulance as a Paramedic, my wife can testify to the many Christmas Eves and Days that I had to do my duty and miss out on some special times at home.  It was, however, never without some very special blessings that came our way while serving others during the hours around Christmas.  Something magical always seemed to happen and we were placed in some very special situations where not only medical help was needed, but many times we were given the opportunity to minister to the lowly and downtrodden who otherwise had no chance for a Christmas as we knew it.  It was during those special moments that God allowed us to be used to bring a smile, relieve some burdens, share some tears, or provide for some needs for those whose only connection to someone who seemed to care came from a 911 call.
To this day, I can think back on those “special” Christmases and feel the joy in my heart that came as a result of God’s Divine interventions and how he always orchestrated in His perfect timing the needs of the less fortunate to meet with those who were willing and prepared to serve.   Due to those experiences over the years, in some supernatural way, it convinced me that my profession was a “calling” like no other, and there was nothing in this world that I would rather devote my time and efforts to.  What an honor it has been to have answered all these calls for assistance over these nearly 4 decades and get the blessings from them that I cannot begin to explain.  Thanks be to God for the gifts He gives us and for allowing us to be put in the positions to use them to His glory.
Say a special prayer this Christmas to all those EMTs and Paramedics, Firefighters, and Public Servants out there protecting us and coming to the calls of those in need.  Next time you hear the sirens or see the ambulances trying to make their way through traffic, just stop and remember the story of the Good Samaritan.  While many passed by the one in desperate need, ONE took the time to stop and help a stranger who was very different from him and he did so out of unconditional love. 
God Bless them all.
Russ McGee

This article was taken from the Journal of Emergency Medical Services and shared by Russ McGee.

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, Not a creature was stirring not even a mouse. But up in the city where life carried on,  Paramedics responded to their own siren song ... 

It was late afternoon, cloudy, starting to get pretty chilly. “Medic 16, 2763 East Washington, Mental/Emotional, police on scene.” We pulled up in front of the cruiser and shut down the lights. Two young officers were standing by a woman who was sitting on a ledge outside of the library. The female officer told us the woman had called because she was living in a shelter down the street, but when she came back after taking a walk, the Sisters who ran the shelter told her she was acting strangely and they thought they smelled alcohol on her breath, so, being a dry shelter, wouldn’t let her back in.

“Do you guys have a PBT?” I asked. 

“No, we’d have to call another car. She says she wants to go to the hospital to get tested because she denies drinking and has nowhere else to go. We didn’t know what to do for her so we called you.” 

“Hi, I’m Guy, I’m a paramedic. What’s your name?”


“So what’s going on Cindy?”

Cindy repeated what the officer had already told me. She has been homeless for a long time and has various mental health issues for which she is taking medication. Her doctor changed her medication a few days ago. She said she was feeling a little better today so she decided to go outside and take a walk for the first time in a long time. She explained she felt happier today than she had been for a while, and she even smiled a little. She denied having had any alcohol, and thought maybe the Sisters attributed her elevated mood to booze.

I performed a gaze test, smelled no alcohol, and detected no intoxication.

 “So do you think if we go back to the shelter and I tell the Sisters I don’t find any evidence of alcohol they will let you back in?”

 Everyone agreed it was worth a shot. So this unlikely procession of two cops, two medics and Cindy trooped down the street, chatting, until we reached the shelter. I rang the doorbell and a Sister in blue-and-white Mother Theresa-styled robes greeted us. I told her that I had completed a field assessment and found no evidence of alcohol or intoxication, explained the possible effects of the new medications, and asked the Sister if she would let Cindy come in from the cold. She was happy to do so, explaining that they had to maintain a very strict no intoxication policy for the safety of all the women at the shelter. Hands were shaken, holiday greetings given, I got a hug from Cindy, and we went our separate ways.

Toward evening we were dispatched to one of the downtown missions. The Squad was already there assessing Sam, who had gotten dizzy a couple of times during the day and lost his balance. Sam didn’t look so good: jaundiced, poor skin turgor, out of it. His blood sugar was 98 but his blood pressure was 76/68. He hadn’t felt well for a few days. He was also short of breath and wheezing. Sam apologized several times for disturbing us on Christmas Eve. We assured him there was nothing to apologize for.

Five-hundred mls of normal saline and a breathing treatment later Sam looked and sounded much better. By the time we rolled to Bed 2 and the hospital team came in, I was happy to explain that Sam looked a lot better now than he did when we picked him up. Sam smiled and thanked us again. We told him we were sorry he had to spend Christmas Eve at the hospital, but I was thinking to myself that were it me, I would rather be in the hospital than sleeping on the floor at the mission. We shook hands, wished each other good tidings, I got another thank you from Sam, and we went our separate ways. We finally got back to the firehouse.

The engine crew was watching It’s a Wonderful Life. We joined them but it wasn’t long before the tones dropped for an injury. On scene we were flagged down by a woman who explained to us that her baby's daddy had gotten drunk and slipped and fell on the ice. We went inside to find a 20-something-year old guy on the couch moaning, telling us his leg was broken. 

Well, it was more like, “My leg is broken, I know it. Is my leg broken? I know it is. Is it?”

 After a far-too-drawn-out discussion regarding the fact that in order to help him we had to actually get his pants off and look at his leg, we finally got Ben’s pants off and guess what—he was right. I could feel the disturbing grinding of crepitus with minimal movement of the leg. A SAM Splint and a good deal of interfamilial drama later, we finally got Ben into the ambulance. An IV and some fentanyl went a long way to improving interpersonal relations, and on the way to the hospital, to distract him from his injury (and because I find people interesting) I coaxed out his story.

Ben had been released from prison about a month earlier. He was 27, had a 14-year-old girl and an 8-year-old boy, and a bunch of felonies that had kept him in the poky much of his young life. He was now working at the first regular job he has ever had, and he loved it—loved to be able to start providing for his family. But tonight, Christmas Eve, he and his girlfriend were arguing about his drinking and the fact they had nothing for the kids for Christmas. 

Yes, he acknowledged it would be more responsible of him to buy presents than booze, but he said it was hard not to drink because not being able to provide for his family made him feel less of a man. He started to tear up. Crap, I said to myself, did it have to be It’s a Wonderful Life on the tube just before we caught this run? I told him when we got to the hospital  I would ask around to see if there was anything left from one of the hospital’s holiday toy drives.

 After transferring care to the hospital staff, I talked to the nurses and a social worker about his plight, but there were no toys left at the hospital. So I talked to my partner and we came up with a plan. We called our lieutenant and asked to remain out of service for a little while after the call to accomplish a “detail.” There was a CVS open down the block from the hospital. We drove over and started walking up and down the aisles, quickly finding a basketball, Nerf gun and bag of plastic soldiers for the boy, and a large squishy stuffed dog, shaggy pink slippers and a fingernail applique set for the girl. Yes, I know, we were gender stereotyping; but time was short, and we figured the parents could distribute them in as egalitarian a manner as they wished. We enjoyed the bemusement and good nature of the cashier as we paid for our purchase and loaded them in the truck. We split the bill.

We drove back to the hospital and slipped the toys and a roll of wrapping paper into Ben’s room. Beaming, he thanked us and asked whom he should say the presents were from. “Santa of course,” we replied. The nurses said they would help with the wrapping. We shook hands, exchanged Yuletide greetings, and went our separate ways. But at least there would be two fewer kids in the city that wouldn’t go without on Christmas morning.

I  can’t remember if we had any runs that Christmas Eve that required very much of our medical knowledge or ability. In the street it’s essential to have that knowledge, skill and judgment to be able to treat effectively any injury or illness that greets us when we arrive “on scene.” But, eventually, we begin to understand that this knowledge and skill make up the basics; they are the curriculum of EMS 101.

When we were young, we would brag to each other about the upside-down digital intubation or the chest decompression with the lawn dart or the rescue with the skyhook. Students and rookies measure their worth in the number and girth of the plastic tubes they can shove in the right place; assess value in the quantity of shootings and stabbings and dramatic wrecks and MCIs they attend. Eventually, though, enough tubes have been inserted that their value diminishes; enough dramatic calls responded to that they blur together and fade.

But with this passage of time and hopefully mellowing of character, it’s things of a very different nature that stand out in greater contrast from the background noise of EMS. Gradually the tale of the 14-gauge angiocath inserted in the external jugular through the car’s sunroof while dangling off the overpass is replaced by the story of the sad woman helped back to shelter on a cold Christmas eve; the tale of the fellow offered genuine concern when he got sick at the mission; the anecdote of the father given a hand to feel a little more worthy in the eyes of his children, and his children given a few toys to feel a little more valued on Christmas morning. Such acts can assuage the sadness born of our daily portion of poverty and sickness and violence, can be a balm to the existential sadness that comes from trying to hold back the flood of pain and suffering and anger, call after call, and shift after shift.

So be of good cheer. Our vocation may not offer us much in the way of material reward—this is certainly true. But it does offer us great opportunity to make our world a better place in many small ways—even for the least among us. Amen

Nothing you could say would add to that story. Thanks to all our emergency personnel who sacrifice their time and safety to take care of us. A special thanks to the Upson Regional Medical Center in Thomaston, Georgia for their care this week during our two visits to the emergency room which resulted in an overnight stay for my husband. Thankfully, we were able to come home on Christmas Eve. I hope all of you had a wonderful, emergency free Christmas!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Don't Limit God

Book Review Friday
by Barbara Latta

Did you know you could limit what God wants to do in your life?

Have you ever considered that the benefits of what God has done for you is determined by you being willing to receive it?

In his book, Don't Limit God, Andrew Wommack shares insights he has gained over his forty years of ministry that have helped him gain the success he needs to fulfill God's call on his life.

Andrew shares examples of times in his life when he limited God and the outcome was frustration and more hardships than necessary.  Andrew shows us how we can learn from the mistakes of the Israelites while they wandered in the wilderness instead of believing God and following His directives. 

Reading this book can change your life and the way you view success.

Don't Limit God is available at www.awmi.net or on Amazon.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Follow The Star

by Barbara Latta

“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem saying, ‘Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him’.” (Matthew 3:1-2)

Men from a land to the east of Israel followed a star to guide them to the infant King they had read about in the prophecies of scripture. They studied the signs in the sky which verified what they were reading. These men knew God has spoken and they followed His directives.

When the dry wind of the desert blew across their faces, burning eyes, cutting skin, and filling their mouths and noses with sand, they still followed the star. Mile after mile they trudged because their hearts burned with the truth of what they followed.

Days blurred into each other as the trip extended into weeks. Most scholars think the baby Jesus was around two years old when visited by the Magi because of the order of King Herod to kill boys two years old and under. Whether these wise men started their search two years before Jesus was even born, or it took two years to decide to make the journey and then complete the trip, we don’t know. But we do know they traveled a long distance, endured the hardships of travel, and maybe even suffered ridicule from some of their peers. “You are following a star to find a Jewish King?” they could have asked.

Did they see the star during the day? I don’t know. It could have been brightly shining during the daylight as well; but if the glow wasn’t beaming in the sunny sky, they still kept going even without the visible sign they had been following. Did they wonder each day if it would reappear at night?

Nevertheless, they sought, followed and fulfilled their goal. They didn’t waver in their quest. They listened to God’s messenger when they were warned of Herod’s evil intentions, thus preventing Herod from knowing where they found the young family.

What can we learn from these wise travelers?
  • God’s Word contains His message. We need to follow it.
  • Hardships will come against us to try to deter us from our quest, but the truth is worth pressing on for.
  • The voice of evil will try to trick us into believing a lie, but following God’s warnings will keep us from being deceived.
  • Peers may ridicule us and think we are fanatics, but finding the King will silence our doubts.
  • Keep going in the direction of the star and we will stay on track.
The bright shine in the sky led these wise men to Bethlehem and the baby, yet all the searching of Herod’s soldiers couldn’t find Jesus. Herod was blinded by His own agenda and had himself on the throne. God’s guidance gives us the way we need to go. Doing things our own way blinds us to wisdom and closes the door on the answers we need.

What does the star say to you this season?

Friday, December 19, 2014

Bridge To Haven

Book Review Friday

by Barbara Latta

In Bridge To Haven, New York Times bestselling author Francine Rivers, takes the reader into the world of 1950's Hollywood and its dark secrets through the life of a lost girl searching for hope.

 Abra, an abandoned baby, grows up feeling like she never belongs even though adopted by a loving family. Searching for acceptance, she finds the choices she is making are taking her farther into a den of iniquity and pain from which there is no escape. She finds out the superficial world of fame and fortune is a crumbling foundation for acceptance and love.

While striving to become a famous actress, the requirements of a celebrity lifestyle are never satisfied and eat away at her soul one bite at a time. The voices in her head keep telling her how unworthy she is and no one will ever love her. She can never go back home.

While this book is not the caliber of Redeeming Love or The Mark of the Lion series (but to me nothing else ever will be), Francine Rivers still tells a story with a redemptive theme, showing that no matter how bad the situation is a person can still cross a bridge they thought was burned long ago.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Tuesday's Tips

Floor Socks
by Barbara Latta

If you have a floor sweeper that uses disposable cloths, you may run out of cleaning supplies before you are aware of it. 

What do you do? Grab your keys and run to the store? No, of course not.

Go through your pile of unmatched socks (you know, those the dryer eats and never gives back the mate). Slide one sock over each end of the mop base and presto: you have a mop. I also did this with a reusable mop when the pad became torn and I was needing something in a hurry. And rather than throwing them away, you can wash and reuse. 

Of course, the dryer may not give them back!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Never Ending Gift

by Barbara Latta
Each Christmas season we see plays and read stories depicting the Nativity scene with angels descending and proclaiming, “glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men” (Luke 2:14). These words are quoted often, printed on cards, and sung in songs; yet the world is at war, kids are shooting each other, financial disasters abound, and terrorism threatens us all. Where is peace?

It wasn’t peace on earth the angels sang about, but peace between God and mankind. Even Jesus Himself said he did not come to bring peace, but a sword (Matthew 10:34). Trusting Him would require a person to commit to God’s ways and separate themselves from the wrong they had done. Friends and family familiar with the old ways wouldn’t like the change. Division would occur.

The world’s turmoil is caused by strife between groups of people. Because humans have no peace in their hearts, fighting and anger grow creating havoc and war. Selfishness rules with pain and heartache becoming the result.

Peace is not the absence of conflict in the world, but the absence of conflict in your heart. It is the Christmas gift God gave to all of us over 2,000 years ago. No matter what is going on around us, we can have a peaceful soul if we let this gift be ours. Peace never wears out, doesn’t need batteries, doesn’t need to be returned, and can be used in every season.

Before Jesus left the earth He said, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27 NKJV).

Peace is a never ending gift. Are you a willing recipient?

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Price of Pearls

Book Review Friday

by Barbara Latta

Peeling back the layers of her life, Patricia Manns opens her heart to share the pain of searching for purpose, acceptance, and peace. Growing up during the 1950’s and attending college in the tumultuous 1960’s, she takes the reader through her experiences of bad decisions and harmful relationships followed by the painful consequences.

Suffering from years of depression but not knowing the underlying cause, the pain of her soul led her to find the One who could ultimately make the difference in the value of her life. Her new found freedom brought the security and confidence to face the challenges of life and release the past.

The Price of Pearls is a journey from bondage to peace, the discovery of real love, and an everlasting possession of a new identity.

This book is available at amazon.com.

 You can visit Patricia's blog a www.treasurechestmoments.com. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Does Your Sink Stink?

Tuesday's Tips

Holiday cooking, rushed time schedules, and maybe even more people than usual in your kitchen can leave some messes we don't get cleaned up like we want. If you drains are suffering from stinky pipes and need a little refreshing, try this:

1 cup salt
1 cup soda
¼ cup cream of tarter

Mix well  and keep in an airtight jar.

Use ¼ cup in drain followed by boiling water

Your sink will smile and be very happy.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Manger and the Mercy Seat

by Barbara Latta

When we hear the Christmas story recorded in the book of Luke and read about the manger where Mary laid the newborn babe, the image of a wooden box full of hay comes to mind. But research shows that mangers in those days were usually a carved stone trough and were sometimes on the ground floor of a house so the animals could be close by.
Stone feeding trough in Israel

Jesus came to earth to die (John 18:37). His purpose was already being displayed when he was born. The baby would have been rubbed with salt and oil (Ezekiel 16:4), wrapped in strips of cloth,and then laid in a manger (Luke 2:7). Angels were proclaiming his birth.

At His death, he was anointed with about one hundred pounds of spices, wrapped in a linen cloth, then laid on a stone slab in a tomb (John 19:38-40). At His resurrection, two angels were sitting at the head and the foot where he had lain (John 20:12), which paints a perfect picture of the Mercy Seat—a slab on top of the Ark of the Covenant covered with two angels one on each end.

The priest would sprinkle blood on the Mercy Seat covering the sins of the nation each year (Hebrews 9:6-7). Jesus entered heaven and sprinkled His blood on the altar to atone for our sins forever (Hebrews 9:11-15). The blood shed during the birthing process showed us He was the Son of Man, the blood shed at His death was as the Son of God.

Christmas is the manger bringing to us the blood on the Mercy Seat—and that is the greatest gift of all.

What does that gift mean to you?

Leave a comment beginning today until Monday, December 8 at midnight and be entered into a drawing for Jerry Jenkins novella, Holding Heaven.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Driftwood Tides

Book Review Friday
by Barbara Latta

Libby Slater is engaged to a wonderful man, she has a perfect job, and a high society mother who wants her to have the wedding of the century.

While Libby’s mother is planning the wedding she wants her daughter to have, Libby is finding out things about herself she has never known. Like adoption papers.

Searching for the answers to her identity and with hopes of meeting her biological mother, Libby sets out to Nags Head, the last address recorded for the woman who gave her birth. Leaving her fiancée and demanding mother behind for the summer, Libby’s search turns up painful questions instead of answers when she finds out her mother has died and the husband she left behind doesn’t know of Libby’s existence.

A drunken driftwood artist and a woman desperately wanting to belong to a family become an unlikely pair while they both seek the answers a dead woman left behind.

Gina Holmes weaves a story of hope and redemption amidst the backdrop of the Carolina coast with characters rich in personalities that clash and dreams they all want to make come true.

This book is available at amazon.com. 

Share your thoughts about some of your favorite books.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Doggy Ears

Tuesday's Tips

Dogs sometimes suffer from ear fungus and other maladies that are unpleasant for them and us. Scratching, itching, and bad odors are something we don't want to deal with. Our groomer gave me this formula to keep the fungus at bay and ears smelling and feeling better.

Our dogs in the photo are Peanut, the dachshund mix, and Buster the snoodle. The German Shepherd and Chi-weenie belong to our son and daughter-in-law (RIP Weenie, sniff). With this family of canines among us we use this recipe a lot.
Peanut, Buster, Kato, Weenie

2 TBL water
2 TBL white vinegar
2 TBL alcohol

Mix together in a small squeeze bottle with a squirt top. I squeeze a few drops into the dogs ears every few days and massage in.

Next step, stand back for the shaking. 

What do you do to keep your pets fresh and clean?

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Holidays Were Meant to Bring Pleasure, Not Stress into Your Life

Lynn Johnston
I have a guest blogger this week, my friend and writing partner, Lynn Johnston. We are both members of the East Metro Atlanta Christian Writers. Lynn is an elementary school teacher who spends her leisure time as a freelance writer. She is a member of the NWU and the Writing Center.She also is actively involved with the Writers 750 group and enjoys participating in writing contests. Recently, she has been asked to submit four short stories for two anthologies. Two of the stories were published in the anthology Giant Tales-Dangerous Days, that released in June 2014 and the other story appeared in an anthology called Violet Hopes that released in August 2014.

We all tend to do it...set strenuous goals for ourselves for Christmas. We push ourselves to do things that make the holidays more stressful rather than enjoyable. The worst part is we have actually convinced ourselves that we enjoy doing these things every year:
  • I have to be in charge of the company Christmas party....how elaborate can we make it this year?
  • It won't be Christmas if I don't....polish the silver and slave over a hot stove for three hours, make coffee cake....that's my job, bake those complicated cookies.
  • I have to help the grandchildren make a gingerbread house...even though it takes hours.
  • What will the neighbors think if my decorations look shabby? I guess it's time to upgrade mine to the nicer white icicle lights.
  • I have to come up with a fabulous Santa gift for my kids...hope my credit cards don't fail me.
  • We have to buy nice gifts for my Aunt Sharma; she always spends a lot on my kids.
  • Got to go to my sister-in-law's Christmas party and pretend to have a good time.
If any of these statements sound familiar, then you are allowing stress to run your life. Stress is caused by our ego. Our ego is the part of us that worries about competition and what others will think. Sometimes our egos become so in charge that we set unmanageable goals for ourselves that take all of the fun out of the holiday. The ego can decide that Christmas won't be Christmas unless we spend a certain amount of money or a certain amount of time doing things. These images we form in our heads of what Christmas needs to be is our perception. Our perception is a false reality that we deem as the truth. We can convince ourselves that our perception is the way it needs to be. The problem is our perception typically does not match everyone's perception. Meaning, we force ourselves to do things that may not be necessary to enjoy Christmas. The ego is not biblical and does not define Christmas at all. It allows conflict to take over and gives in to commercialism.

What can you do to fix this?
  • Check your EGO! Who cares what others think?
  • Prioritize what's really important and find a way to make it simple.

Put the charge card away.  Never spend more than you can afford.  The ego loves to impress, but that is not what the true meaning of Christmas is about. Some churches recommend that your children narrow their lists down to 3 items (Hence the 3 Wise-men). Where does it say that presents need to be elaborate? Try buying more practical gifts. Ask yourself how long Suzy played with that expensive toy last year. Chances are that $200 dollar toy sits in a toy box or your garage gathering dust this year. You are better off buying things for children that builds their imagination. Do the research.

Stop going to parties for appearances sake. If you don't enjoy being around certain people, why give up an afternoon or an evening for them?  Instead, show them love another way.  For example, giving hand made items or baked goods can be wonderful expressions of love. 

Avoid competing with your neighbors. Decorate to please yourself and your family. The ego loves competition, but that is not what Christmas is about either.  
Nice dinners can still be prepared without complicated recipes. Find out what your family really needs you to do to be happy. Do they appreciate the fact that you slaved over a stove for three hours and spent two hours creating a complicated gingerbread house? Are you happy when it's complete or just relieved that it's done?

Finally, just have fun and enjoy spending quality time with your family! 

Bottom line: Cut the ego and the perception that Christmas has to be complicated. If it's not fun, don't do it. Have a wonderful stress-free Christmas!

Share your ideas for keeping the holidays free of stress and anxiety.

Friday, November 28, 2014

New Sheets

Book Review Friday

by Barbara Latta

New Sheets, Thirty Days to Refine You into the Woman You Can Be by Cindy Sproles explores the world of the trials and triumphs of a wife, mother, and parent of a disabled child.

A reading for each day during the month will inspire and motivate a woman to be as refined as a new set of luxurious, Pima sheets. And while those do require maintenance, as Cindy says, so do we. And we have the God who can do it.

As she shares some of her ups and downs during marriage, divorce, and child rearing, Cindy’s insights identify with the struggles every woman has at some point in her life. Our attitudes and expectations through life can be transformed into refreshingly new outlooks and outcomes when we are willing to let God change us.

When you think you can’t go on, a daily reading of this devotional will encourage and inspire.

This book is available at amazon.com.

Do you have a favorite daily reading?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Stainless Steel Shine

Tuesday's Tips

by Barbara Latta

It's holiday time and soon parties and celebrations will be in full swing. We all want our homes to be spotless when guests arrive. If you have stainless steel appliances that need cleaning, I found a good way to get rid of smudges and those mottled spots.

I tried every cleaner for stainless steel I could find and nothing has made much of a difference on our refrigerator. As I was fussing and fuming about it while polishing endlessly to no avail, my husband came in with a can of engine brightener that he uses on his bike.

We tried a small amount in an inconspicuous place to make sure it wouldn't discolor the finish. After using it on the entire front surface, the fridge has a new sheen and all the mottled specks are gone. It looks like new and I was amazed.

product is in a spray can so if you use it or something similar, make sure to keep it away from open flames and use proper ventilation while spraying. Also be careful if some falls to the floor because it can make it very slippery.

Do you have some useful tips for appliance cleaning you would like to share?

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Football and Turkey

by Barbara Latta

From August to February each year we are inundated with football games on TV. Even after college games have ended, we have to endure the playoff games leading up to the Super Bowl (which gets later on the calendar every year, I might add).

But have you ever wondered why football became one of the traditions of Thanksgiving Day? Along with your turkey drumstick, why do you have to have pigskin in there somewhere too?

It goes w-a-a-a-y back to 1893 when the Universities of Michigan and Chicago would meet on Thanksgiving Day for their annual game. However, this tradition ended in 1899 when the Michigan coach refused to split gate receipts with the Chicago team. They had a dispute about the location of the next game, so in 1900 the match up with Chicago Maroons was the Wisconsin Badgers.

High school teams have also been playing traditional Thanksgiving games. One of the oldest rivalries is between two Missouri teams, Kirkwood and Webster Groves. These two have played each other since the late 1890’s.

Pro-football has played games on Thanksgiving since the league began in the early 20th century. For two decades, except in 1952, the NFL played one game on Thanksgiving which was always hosted by the Detroit Lions. In 1946, the All-American Football Conference played a game on the holiday until the league folded in 1949.

When the AFL began in 1960 it had a game scheduled for that special Thursday. Then in 1966, Dallas Cowboys owner, Tex Schramm, saw a Thanksgiving game as a marketing opportunity so a second game for the day was scheduled.

You get my drift here, right? Rather than continue with the history, let’s just say it’s still going on, with more being added over the years. Now from lunch to bedtime and sometimes thereafter, an oblong leather ball with pointed ends is flying across your table wearing the colors of different mascots. The games last through the leftovers, chips, dips, pretzels, popcorn, and pumpkin pie.

East to west, north to south, college to pro, a Thanksgiving football blowout has become an American tradition. This year our son and daughter-in-law surprised us with an early Christmas present—tickets to Saturday's game for the Alabama Crimson Tide. So not only do we get to watch games on television all week, we got to see one from the direct view of the stands. It doesn't get much better than that!

Happy Thanksgiving. Enjoy the game, whoever you root for. So now that you know some history of the holiday game, how do you weave this TV spectacular into your celebration?

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Astronaut Wives Club

Book Review Friday
by Barbara Latta

Flashbulbs popped and applause was spontaneous as the seven Mercury astronauts were introduced to the world by NASA on April 9, 1959. Never before had the country endeavored to complete such a feat as putting a human being into space. These men were instant celebrities.

But so were their wives.  In The Astronaut Wives Club, Lily Koppel delves into the behind the scenes lives of the women married to the spacemen. From Mercury to Apollo, ordinary housewives, some with no education beyond high school, were thrown into the spotlight and expected to be the perfect wife and mother. Supporting each other, they formed the club that would keep them bound to together even decades after the space program was over.

The public’s expectations went beyond normal as they were forced to thrive in the light of high society, husband absences, and the politics of NASA. Putting on a brave face amidst the threat of your husband not returning from space was the ultimate goal. LIFE magazine’s contract to follow their every move made this the first “reality” show. They were always “proud, happy, and thrilled.”

The stresses of putting on the façade of perfection while everything was falling apart at home took its toll on more than one victim. Chain smoking, heavy drinking, and tons of tears were the diets of the club. And then there was the task of hiding things from NASA that could separate a spaceman from his job. What was Marge Slayton’s big secret that would get her husband, Deke, fired from the space program? And why was Marilyn Lovell afraid for NASA to find out she was pregnant with their fourth child before Jim’s first Apollo flight? What about those Cape Cookies they had to put up with? (It wasn’t a chocolate chip recipe).

The Astronaut Wives Club is a good read for those who followed the space program or want to know more about the ins and outs of NASA family life.

What do you think about this book? Do you have another one you would like to recommend?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Thanksgiving Beginnings

by Barbara Latta
When the Thanksgiving holiday comes around every year, we think of turkeys, Pilgrims, and football. We reflect on the feast the first settlers shared with their Native American friends, but do you know when it became an official national holiday?

Many years after the 1620 settlers gave thanks to God for his protection and bountiful harvest, pastors, leaders, governors and presidents called for a day set aside to give thanks. But it took over two decades of persuasion from Mrs. Sarah Josepha Hale, editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book, to get a president to proclaim a national holiday to be celebrated annually. In 1863, President Lincoln set aside the last Thursday of November as a national day of thanksgiving. Each year thereafter, the holiday was recognized, although the dates varied. Finally in 1941, Congress established the last Thursday of November to be the official Thanksgiving Day.

A lot of things are going on in the world and in our country today that are disastrous and lacking any recognition of God. However, we still have much to be thankful for. We can take a lesson from Abraham Lincoln who made the following statement in his Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1863:

The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the Source from which they come, others have been added which are of so extraordinary a nature that they can not fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God. . . . No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, Who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. [1]

It was only three months before he made this speech that Lincoln stood at the graves of Gettsyburg, where thousands lay buried. It was here in the midst of a war, a severe trial of faith, that this president became a Christian. He made this proclamation during the worst time in American history giving thanks to God for blessing the nation.

Can we do any less? We have trials now. Decisions are being made that affect us all in negative ways, and God’s foundations are ridiculed by government leaders. However, America is still a great nation only because God has so blessed us. We can continue to be a light to the rest of the world.

We need to be thankful in the midst of the storm of politics, rhetoric, and scandal. Because we are still America the beautiful and America the blessed.

I am thankful for my God, my family, my freedom, my rights, my home, and my health. I am thankful for our military and civilian protection, my friends, my church, my talents, and my abilities.

And I am thankful to you, the reader of this blog, for your participation and input.

I would love for you to share some things you are thankful for.

[1] Celebrating Thanksgiving in America, www.wallbuilders.com

Saturday, November 8, 2014

In Appreciation To Our Vets

by Barbara Latta

For most of us, daily routines are exercised with little thought of the process it takes to complete them. Putting on shoes, brushing our teeth, finding our car keys are all on the multi-item list of things we do without being conscious of our actions.

But what if it took so much effort to bend over and tie your shoes that you couldn’t even do it? Or comb your hair, pick up a book, or feed yourself? Then those tasks become major obstacles to ordinary life. 

Every day hundreds of our veterans wake up to world different from the one they knew before they went to war. No matter which war they fought in a heavy price was paid to preserve or win freedom, not only for those in other countries, but also to keep the freedom we have at home from being taken away. Because atrocities do not stop at borders.

The extreme injuries and sufferings of some our veterans is compounded by the recent Veteran’s Administration scandal. To have all these medical needs, and then have the door slammed shut by the very government that sent you in harm’s way on any aid you require, is an even worse tragedy.

We still have the best country in the world. It’s up to us, the ordinary citizens, to make sure our veterans receive the respect and honor they deserve. Without the heroic efforts of those willing to fight and die, from the Revolutionary War to present, we would not have a free America. We can’t undo their injuries and heartbreak, but we can appreciate them.

There are many agencies that support and provide healing to returning vets. We can help our heroes by supporting these groups, showing our appreciation whenever we meet someone who has served, and continue to encourage our elected officials to provide resources for our military. Cutting defense spending only reduces the resources they will have, and reduces the numbers in the military available to fight while the enemy continues to grow in numbers.

These are the citizens in our country that deserve the highest respect, the best medical care, and the continued thanks of us all.Thank you to all who have worn a uniform and served honorably in our United States military.

Feel free to share your appreciation for our veterans in the comments section.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

The Sermon at the Mall

Holiday shopping time is here. I would like to share a short allegory about Black Friday which will be here soon.It is not intended to criticize anyone who shops during this hectic time. I have enjoyed doing so myself. It is just a reminder to keep things in perspective. I hope you enjoy it.

By Barbara Latta

The line was all the way down the sidewalk, around the corner of the building and growing steadily as time passed. People looked at their watches while they drank their lattes, murmuring about the wait. Some shuffled their feet trying to keep warm. Need raised up from the cold ground where he had been sleeping and drew the thin blanket around his shoulders as he watched the spectacle across the parking lot. A shiver ran through him as the icy fingers from the earth grabbed his skin.
“Hey, come on, it’s 4 a.m. already, why don’t they open the doors?” Impatience shouted.
“Yeah, what are they waiting on?” Grumbler said.
About that time a clerk in a red vest appeared on the opposite side of the glass doors. The crowed peered through like hungry piranha waiting on prey. Black Friday was about to begin. The lock clicked and before the clerk could open the door, the mob did it for him, pushing and shoving each other out of the way.
Need walked to the sidewalk which had miraculously cleared. He reached down and picked up a discarded cup of coffee. It was still warm. He wrapped his cold hands around the cup savoring the heat for just a moment before he took a long swig. His stomach growled, but this would have to do unless he could sneak some free samples from the bakery inside the store.
He went inside to the mayhem of the dollar. The zoo was calmer at feeding time than this frenzy. Need worked his way through the maze of bodies and walked into the beginning of a battle.
“That’s mine, I saw it first,” Covetous said. She pulled a purse off the shelf before another could reach for it. Greed grabbed to pull it back, missed, and her elbow flew backward hitting Need in the eye.
“Ouch,” he cried, covering his wounded eye with his hand.
“Get out of the way, old man.”
He was shoved back as they continued their fight over the designer bag.
The aisles were already strewn with merchandise that had been perused and discarded for better choices. Need had to step carefully along the floor to prevent crushing toys and books. The smell from the bakery was beckoning to his stomach. He hoped he could get there before all the free samples were taken.
“Attention Shoppers. We have five 50-inch TV’s at a special price of just $200 each,” a voice on the intercom announced. He looked up just as a flood of bodies ran toward him with no intention of going around. Need moved away, but not fast enough. He was trampled as if he were part of the floor. He picked himself up and examined every body part to see what might be injured.
He tried to find a way out of the mess he was in but was surrounded by a sea of humanity with only one thing on their minds. He moved against the flow only to be pushed back two steps for every one he took. He felt the buttons on his shirt pop as someone beside him pulled on it.
“Ewww,” Mocker said, “why don’t you go to the deodorant aisle fellow?” He wiped his hands on another’s arm.
“Hey, don’t wipe his dirt off on me,” Haughty said as he flicked the offense off his sleeve.
Need swallowed the lump in his throat and said nothing. His hunger had driven him into the store hoping for a morsel of free food; otherwise, he wouldn’t be in the middle of this chaos. He escaped the claws of ridicule and continued toward his quest.
“Why did they put the bakery at the back of the store?” He muttered to himself.
He reached the counter just as a new batch of hot donuts had been put on the table. The sugar was still melting down the sides. Need’s mouth watered. He grabbed some napkins from the dispenser and put two donuts in his pocket before he could be spotted. He grabbed another and wolfed it down in two bites. He was so hungry he didn’t taste it, but it helped the ache in his belly for a few moments.
“Hey, you, those are samples not a meal. Leave some for the other shoppers,” Gluttony said from behind the counter. Sugar flakes were falling from her chin as she spoke.
“Oh, it’s you again. Haven’t you been told enough times to stay out of here? You’re just a bum looking for a handout. Now get out of here.” She walked around the glass pastry display case and picked up the platter to keep Need from taking anything else.
Need left the store grateful for the little he had been able to get. He patted his pocket where the pair of donuts lay in wait for lunch. The cold wind assaulted him as he walked into the parking lot. He passed a car where a woman and child were having an argument.
“No, Mommy, I want to go inside, too,” Abandon said.
“No, you will only get in the way. I wouldn’t have brought you if I had anyone to leave you with. Now stay in the car and don’t make any noise to draw attention to yourself. I am going to get that jacket I want no matter what I have to do,” Selfish said. Need watched Selfish lock Abandon in the car and walk away.
With a deep sigh and a shake of his head, Need walked back toward the grassy area where he had slept last night.  He sat down on the cardboard box he had used for a bed thankful the wind hadn’t blown it away, and then reached behind a shrub for the blanket he had stashed there when he went into the store. Wrapping the holey garment around his shoulders, he laid down to try to get some more sleep. At least if he could sleep, he wouldn’t know he was hungry.
He was awakened later by small fingers poking him in the shoulder.
“Hey, Mister.”
Need opened his eyes and looked into a small face with big, blue eyes that were starting to shed tears.  He recognized the child who had been left in the car.
“What do you want, kid?”
“I’m lost. I got out of my mother’s car to walk around and now I can’t find it.” Need thought about helping her and then realized how it would look if someone saw him with another person’s child. He couldn’t risk that.
“Well, I can’t help you.”
“I don’t see anyone else out here and you are bigger than I am.” She sniffed.
“Maybe I can help,” a voice from behind them said.
Need and Abandon looked up at the stranger who had approached them.
“My name is Emmanuel.” Need’s hand was grabbed by a stronger, calloused one and deep scars were exposed on the man’s wrists as the two shook hands.
“Your mother’s car is three rows over.” Emmanuel lifted Abandon up so she could see over the tops of the cars.
“Oh yes, I see it now.”
He hugged her tight before putting her back down. Abandon tried to hold on a little longer.
“You’re a nice man,” she said.
Emmanuel smiled at her and cupped her chin. Abandon looked down at the scars on his hands.
“What happened to your hands?”
“I was beaten and put in prison for something I didn’t do.”
Need and Abandon looked at Emmanuel in surprise.
“It’s ok now. Everything has been made right. Today is my birthday. Would both of you like to share this with me?” Emmanuel picked up a bag off the ground that had gone unnoticed until now. Out of it came the most amazing aroma Need had ever smelled.
“Are you having a party?” Abandon asked.
Emmanuel looked around the parking lot. A man was trying to squeeze an oversize TV box into the back of a compact car. Several shoppers were running with carts to unload their purchases so they could go back for more. Greed and Covetous came out of the store with frowns on their faces.
“No, I don’t think anyone would have time to come. How about the two of you? Could I share my birthday meal with you?”
Need and Abandon both nodded. Emmanuel spread a feast before them worthy of a king. They ate until they couldn’t hold anymore. Need was feeling Full and Abandon was feeling Loved.
“Where did you get all this?” Need asked.
“My father is very rich and he provides sumptuously.”
“He sure does. But why did you want to share it with us?” Need said.
“Because you were the ones who accepted it. I invited all those here. But no one would come.”
“Abby, Abby!” A woman’s panicked cry pierced the air.
“You better go back to your mother,” Emmanuel said.
“No, I don’t want to. She will be angry because I left the car.”
“I think you will find her different now.”
Abby started walking back toward the car and met her mother who was running toward the three new friends. Mother knelt down and embraced the child while Need and Emmanuel looked on.
“Oh, Abby, I’m sorry I left you in the car.”
“Did you get your jacket, Mommy?”
“Yes, but when I couldn’t find you I didn’t care if I had it or not. I will never be that Selfish again.”
Emmanuel looked at Mother and nodded in approval.  Mother took Abby’s hand and led her back to the car.
Emmanuel pointed across the parking lot and told Need, “Go over to that store. Ask for Generous and tell him I sent you. He will have a job for you.”
As Need walked toward the store for the promised job, he watched Emmanuel moving among the shoppers returning to their vehicles with their Black Friday discounted loot.  He saw Greed and Covetous hurrying to other stores, barely able to get into the door with the bulging bags at their sides. Indifference walked past a Salvation Army kettle counting the bills in his hands and then stuffing them back into his pocket. Gluttony waddled out to her car and drove to a nearby drive-thru and ordered the super-size value meal.
Emmanuel approached a man unloading signs from the back of his truck. “Do you need some help?” Need heard him ask.
“Sure,” the man replied as he handed Emmanuel an armful of signs. “I’m putting these up around the parking lot.” Emmanuel smiled at the message it contained. 
Need walked over and read one of the signs.
 “Do you know the Reason for the Season?” was displayed in green and red letters with a glittery star at the top.

As the last post went into the ground, Need heard Emmanuel say to the sign maker, “Today is my birthday. Would you like to share a meal with me?”
The End

What are your thoughts about how holiday shopping is handled?