Catfish, Honey

June 25 was declared National Catfish Day (for farm-raised catfish) by President Ronald Reagan in 1987. Farm-raised catfish doesn’t fish well by us, coming from Louisiana, near Lac Des Allemands and Spahr’s Restaurant on Highway 90, in the heart of the Catfish Capital of the Universe, so decreed by Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards in 1975. Where else can you nosh on some of the sweetest catfish you will ever taste other than in a converted gas station that overlooks a picturesque bayou filled with alligators. Des Allemands, LA is the place and home of an annual Catfish Festival to go along with their “out of this world” catfish title.

A St. Cloud, Florida restaurant gives wild catfish a very good try, no farm-raised catfish here either. Their catfish are imported from Lake Okeechobee and other local bodies of water. The restaurant, like Spahr’s is a throwback to another era, but they boast a long list of famous people who have dined there. Our names did not make the list.

We were in the area to purchase local honey from 3Beez Honey Farm, from their small storefront off Grape Avenue in St. Cloud. 3Beez, in oBeeur opinion, has the purest, best tasting honey in the area.

On the way home after the honey buy, we stopped at the St. Cloud restaurant for lunch. Catfish entrees were half price in honor of National Catfish Day. We hit a small jackpot with the size of the restaurant’s abundant portions, bringing half a meal home to our refrigerator.

We reminisced about dear friends now living in Georgia who love this restaurant.

Pass the catfish, honey. It’s been a good day.

Five for the Plate

Five for the Plate

Ever been on mission to have it abruptly interrupted? On my way to a meeting, my enthusiastic foot pressing hard on the car’s accellerator got me a signed, suitable for framing warning from local law enforcement. I was traveling 10 miles over the speed limit on a Saturday morning, 8:25am.

“Driver’s license please?” I texted my husband. I may be late for my meeting. I waited for what seemed 30 minutes. The officer approached my car shaking his head side to side. Dread filled my heart. “This time, I’m giving you a warning, I see your husband was cited at a stop sign some time ago. You are in the system now,” he said. I thanked him, driving slowly away, placing the Warning Notice above the passenger seat visor.

Whew, a narrow escape for me. Then I thought, I should have mentioned that I would put an extra $5 in the offering plate on Sunday for him. It was too late, I had to drive fast so that I wouldn’t be late for my 9am meeting. The phone rang. My husband asked, “Did you get a ticket?”

I described the watch I was wearing to my husband, a guardian angel watch with an inscription on the back. I had no doubt that several guardian angels swirled around me at 8:25 as the officer took my driver’s license.

When my meeting ended, rain was flowing like a lawn sprinkler. I pulled a shawl over my head stopping at a market to pick up something for dinner. The butcher said, “It’s raining, be careful out there.” Rain pounded my car all the way home.

On Sunday morning, the wind whined like rolling turbines on a jet engine. As the offering was being collected, I handed my husband $5 whispering, “This is for Officer Middleton*.” I silently prayed for him.

The officer said that he encouraged drivers to focus on driving instead of their GPS, cell phone or music on the radio.

Driving to the meeting, I thought of Psalm 91:11,

“For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.”

Angels are all around us Photo courtesy of unsplash.com

Angels are all around us
(Photo courtesy of unsplash.com)

When I prayed for Officer Middleton*, I prayed for his protection. I try to remember to pray for first responders who risk their lives every day to serve the community. I give thanks for them. Even if I would have received more than a warning, I thank God for those who serve.

 

*Name changed

 

 

Christmas Lights

Christmas Lights

A man from Argentina looking for a dialysis center rang the door bell. I gave him directions to where he needed to go, silently praying for him as he walked back to his car.

A young girl asking for olive oil for a recipe rang the doorbell. I welcomed her into the kitchen, filling her measuring cup with more oil than she might need.

A woman asked for directions. I described how to get to the place she was looking for.

We decorate and light our homes in preparation for the coming of Immanuel. The light of Christ shines through us every time we open a door, pray a prayer for a stranger or give more than asked.

Someone recently described a GPS tool as God’s Positioning System. God’s system doesn’t black out in the darkness of tunnels or get interrupted by solar flares. God lights our paths equipping us to serve others for Him.

It is seven days before Christmas. God counts on each of us to light the path so that others will see his glory. Can he count on you?

Be the Light Photo courtesy of unsplash.com

Be the Light
Photo courtesy of unsplash.com

Hope for the Homeless Population

Hope for the Homeless Population

A memorial mass for a local homeless man framed our trip to Salt Lake City the day before we left town. The homeless man, hit and killed by a car in March on a busy Central Florida road was partly identified through his pockets full of Starbucks and Panera gift cards given to him by caring people who took time to get to know him. At the memorial service, a simple urn donated by a county memory garden contained the remains of this bearded, beloved to many, homeless man.IMG_0080

Our trip took us to Denver, CO, before boarding the California Zephyr Amtrak train to Salt Lake City. Four random Denver taxi drivers, all from Ethiopia, expressed their gratefulness to be living in the United States. There is a homeless population living on the streets of Denver. The California Zephyr’s route travels through majestic, yet desolate canyons, following the Colorado River. As we left Denver, many homeless people stood along the station’s railroad tracks.

Arriving in Salt Lake City, we observed homeless people of every age on street corners, sleeping in vacant building entrances, holding signs asking for assistance. I saw the face of the local homeless man reflected in each homeless person I encountered in Denver or Salt Lake City.

Homeless people are around us from coast to coast, living under bridges, trees, in woods, on streets, carrying belongings in borrowed shopping carts or in well worn garbage bags.

The day we flew home, news reports mentioned our local officials visiting Salt Lake City to observe best practices to help their homeless population. It is too late for the man hit by a car last March but a glimmer of hope is building for others. May the area officials respond in more generous and permanent ways to help the homeless community before more lives are tragically lost.

“Have I ignored the needs of the poor, turned my back on the indigent, taken care of my own needs and fed my own face while they languished? Wasn’t my home always open to them? Weren’t they always welcome at my table?” (Job 31:16-18, The Message)

Shake It Off

I think many of us want to shake off a few of the latest news reports.

A jury convicted peanut butter company executives of fraud and conspiracy. The company’s CEO reportedly directed subordinates to “Just Ship It,” though they were waiting on contamination test results for batches of product prior to shipping. The company’s tainted peanut butter killed nine people and sickened hundreds.

Volkswagen has admitted to blatant cheating on US emission tests. The stock price plunged. CEO Martin Winterkorn resigned. Consumer confidence has gone the way of the stock price.

Martin Shkreli and Turing Pharmaceuticals raised the price of a drug that has no generic competition. Online HuffPost Business reported, “Shkreli and Turing Pharmaceuticals attracted widespread negative attention this week after The New York Times reported the firm hiked the price of Daraprim from $13.50 per pill to $750 in a single day. [Emphasis added] The medicine is more than 60 years old, but has no generic competition, mostly because so few patients need it. Those who do must take the drug to fend off a deadly infection called toxoplasmosis, which afflicts people with AIDS, babies born with HIV, and those with some kinds of cancers. According to Slate, Retrophin implemented a similar price increase for a kidney medicine when Shkreli ran the company. (Note the update: 7:35 p.m. 22 September—Shkreli said Tuesday that Turing would lower the price of the drug an unspecified amount “in response to the anger that was felt by people.”)

Consumers should be angry. Tainted food, pharmaceutical price gouging, emissions cheating by a respected automobile manufacturer. Have corporations’ integrity gone into the toilet?

Victims of tainted peanut butter can’t shake off the death of loved ones. HIV babies and cancer patients can’t shake off diagnoses. Volkswagen’s image and trust is tainted. Once loyal customers are shaking off a brand they used to trust.

Watching for Stop Sign Runners

Watching for Stop Sign Violators

Local Sheriff Deputies were out in force today giving tickets to violators who routinely ignore a four-way stop. The officers positioned themselves in strategic locations to catch violators. We must be strategic and vigilant consumers, identifying and calling to question violators of trust who are eager to take our hard-earned money.

(Note: the officer pictured is strategically on the sidewalk, not roadway).

Jesus said to his disciples, “Look, I’m sending you as sheep among wolves. Therefore, be wise as snakes and innocent as doves,” (Matthew 10:16).

Back to School

 

Lonesome for Children's Voices

Do you sense fall in the air? Have you noticed the sun’s amber glow? The summer heat is waning. Last month, many families shopped for school and dorm supplies, anticipating the beginning of a new school year.

Yet many families didn’t have money to purchase new clothing or supplies. Their children will have to make do with what they have. Their children need clothing in larger sizes; they have outgrown already worn-out shoes.

Anticipation of a new school year is a joyful time for most children. For children living in poverty, it will be another year of being left behind, receiving leftovers, used clothing, maybe a new pair of shoes, receiving a donated backpack filled with school supplies.

Lining Up for Assistance before 8:30am

People Lining Up for Assistance

Poverty is a constant uphill battle, a formidable foe. It affects a child’s ability to learn. Poverty creates subtle stress in families. If parents can’t put food on the table for their families, how can they afford to provide needed clothing and shoes for their children much less afford to buy school supplies?

You can ease the cycle of poverty:

  • Volunteer at your local school.
  • Find out what a teacher needs for the classroom and donate it.
  • Be a mentor for a child.
  • Help a child learn to read.
  • Donate food to a local pantry.

Be generous to the poor—you’ll never go hungry; shut your eyes to their needs, and run a gauntlet of curses. (Proverbs 28:27, The Message)

 

Who are the Strays in Your Life?

Two “preachers” came to visit him. A stray dog appeared. The preachers made unkind remarks about the stray dog while they were talking. Their comments did not sit well with the host. He said, “Do you know that dog spelled backwards spells God?” The two told him they never had thought about that.

He gave the preachers money for their cause. After they left, he gave the stray dog food.

Who are the Strays in Your Life

Who are the Strays in Your Life

Many times, one with a humble heart touches one of God’s creatures, by nurturing a heart without a home or providing food to soothe a hungry belly. Sometimes, one reminds others of the value of all of God’s creatures.

Who are the strays in your life? Who are the ones who have no home or the ones who have lost their way, hungry for love and acceptance, who need to be nurtured?