Gelato & Jake

There is nothing so rewarding to one’s taste buds than a really good dish of gelato. This Italian ice cream is made from milk rather than cream, has fewer calories than ice cream and has a deeper, richer taste. As in all things, there are some gelatos which are better than others, and some flavors that are unique to the particular establishment. We especially enjoy the gelato from a local business called Paciugo. The owner is usually at her shop and is most pleasant.Croatia 2013 071

We first discovered this treat while in Italy some years ago. Besides popping into coffee shops for a shot or two of espresso or a cup of cappuccino, we made it a point to grab a dish or cone of gelato every chance we had, which was quite a few ! So, it is a good thing to see  this dessert being offered in more places in the states.

What’s gelato have to do with Jake? And, who is Jake, anyway? To be honest, I don’t know much about him. We met Jake the other night at a local restaurant, California Pizza Kitchen, in Leawood. Jake was our waiter. He is a pleasant young man with a great smile and a hearty sense of humor. Although we didn’t talk all that much, we developed a congenial rapport and had a few chuckles together. When it came time for the dessert question, we told Jake that we were saving ourselves for gelato at Paciugo which is only a few buildings away from the restaurant. He must have thought we really like gelato to skip CPK’s assortment of desserts !

As we were leaving Cheryl asked him what kind of gelato he liked. This caught him by surprise, but he quickly recovered and gave us a couple of choices. We told him we would be back, but would enjoy our gelato first. I’m pretty sure he was questioning our sincerity. Well, Cheryl and I savored our selections as we talked across a small table inside the gelato shop. Then we grabbed the chocolate delight for Jake and walked back to the restaurant. We came into the side door which is near the kitchen and take-out counter, and immediately saw Jake. We handed him the gelato and told him to enjoy it. A great big smile came over his face and he thanked us ever so much. His manager and co-workers smiled as they witnessed this exchange. I hope he liked our selection.VACATIONS 042

What surprised me about this small act of generosity that my wife initiated was how truly wonderful I felt inside. The axiom, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” is, oh so true. I relate this brief story with the realization that some may think I am shining a spot light on us, but that is not the case. I share this experience to encourage the giving of ourselves without expecting anything in return. I don’t know why I was surprised by my feelings because I have always felt deeply gratified whenever I have blessed someone or been blessed by others or have witnessed others being blessed by others. I believe Jesus stated this dynamic repeatedly while he walked the streets of Galilee.

The reality is that I know so many who give of themselves regularly and without fanfare or recognition. They do so with unselfish motivation while reaping the sheer pleasure of knowing they have touched the lives of others. These ‘paying it forward’ acts of kindness get played out every day by thousands (if not millions) of people all across our nation and throughout the world. Ours was a rather small act, but it made Jake smile and that was worth the price of gelato and a walk across a parking lot. Thank you, Cheryl, for sharing this opportunity with me. We sure had a good time. I’m ready for a trip !   Ciao

P.S. I wonder if CPK will start serving gelato anytime soon.


SL-1 184New Year greetings from the frigid Midwest. Another arctic cold front has swept down upon our landscape and has caused temperatures to plummet. When we have periods of cold such as now, I am most grateful for a warm home and car and coats and gloves. Hot meals and coffee help, too, as do caring people who express warmth with a smile, a hug or a hand shake. Kind words spoken with sincerity certainly spice up a dreary day.

Personally, I have been in a funk for the past month due to a variety of reasons: long work days and related stress, lack of sunshine, and the gnawing feeling that I was meant for something more than what I am currently doing. I have noticed that one of the first things to suffer during these morose times is my creativity. Hence, I haven’t posted for a while. So, I really appreciate you visiting my site at this time.

I have a couple of short stories to share which reveal people full of gratitude. My hope is that by sharing other’s thankfulness, we will become more grateful for our blessings.

Recently, I was the recipient of someone’s gratitude whom I didn’t know, but would like to. The gratitude was not for me, but for something far better. Cheryl and I were at a local restaurant with three other couples. The server was a pleasant gal from Bogotá, Columbia, South America. I am always intrigued by accents and tried to guess her native country. I didn’t guess correctly, but the interaction led to a most startling and beneficial discussion, albeit brief since she was working.

As discussions often go, one question and response lead to another, and another. My companions were also very interested in what we learned in such a brief time. As our server, Selena*, spoke of her coming to America she shared how her father had been shot in the head by a drug cartel member. He survived, but lives in a walking semi-vegetative state. Her mother runs the small propane business once ran by her father. She makes ends meet for them. Due to the seriousness of the violence by the drug cartels in the area of her native city, Selena came to America to receive her secondary education. She ended up in Kansas City and began attending college. As she spoke to us of her recent trials, she showed no self-pity. In fact, her voice became stronger and more impassioned as she spoke of the great opportunity she was given in our country. Suddenly, Selena’s voice came to a crescendo as she stated, “God bless America!”. She then qualified her display of sincere gratitude by acknowledging that many say those words, but don’t really mean them. She wanted us to know that she most definitely meant them. And, she made a point of telling us that she didn’t want or expect entitlements, but was more than willing to earn her way through the new life she has discovered in our country and in our city.

She then continued to serve us in a very efficient and self-assured manner. Needless to say, we were touched by this lovely person who could have easily expressed anger, fear or a host of negative emotions, yet she proclaimed convictions that I want to carry with me daily such as courage, perseverance  and thankfulness. I am grateful for Selena (*not her real name) as she has reminded me that gratitude should not be limited to those who seem to have it all. In her case, she does have all that is necessary to live abundantly. And, so do I. May we all be so fortunate.

My other story focus’ on a gentleman we met while on vacation in Mexico. Carlos is the general manager for the Marriott’s five or six restaurants at this facility. Carlos smiled a lot and made a point of looking for us each morning as we had our breakfast. He told us that he has worked for Marriott for twenty-plus years and has been able to put his kids through college because of his vocation. He loves his job and the company he works for. He loves life as is evidenced by his graciousness and willingness to assist us in any way while we visited. I am proud to have had our photo taken with this wonderful man.

I hope these simple stories help to illuminate your lives with a brighter perspective. These two gracious people have certainly done that for Cheryl and me. I am reminded that gratitude starts with a positive attitude. The ‘g’ is tacked onto the beginning of attitude to emphasize this dynamic. Selena exhibited a soul-deep joy that she couldn’t keep down. Her cup ran over and we felt her gratitude pour over us. Carlos’ enthusiasm and willingness to bless us was contagious. How wonderful it could be / would be if I lived life with the same zest as they do. Just think of how many people would be encouraged by my cheerful heart. The thought of such a thing brings a smile to my somewhat sullen face and a tear of joy to my eye. I am blessed and want to be a blessing to others. With the Lord’s help, this is what I hope to become.                  Cellphone Pics to 11-18-14 057

Happy New Year Everyone !


Sigh of Relief

Autumn morning 10-20-12 006“You are free of the virus”, stated the doctor to my wife. Her response…”What?” “Your viral load is zero. You no longer have any Hepatitis-C virus in your body”. When Cheryl told me, my first thought was, “What?”. We both wondered how can that be when she was forced to stop the Interferon treatments due to severe reactions to the drug regimen after only three weeks of a forty-eight week, multi-drug administration? That was in 2008. So, since that time we have waited for a new drug to become available which has less side effects and is more effective than the treatments used during the past several decades. Fortunately, that drug is ready to be introduced to the public, and Cheryl was ready to try it. However, she doesn’t have to which is news almost too good to be true! We both breathed an extreme sigh of relief.

Cheryl acquired the Hep-C virus during blood transfusions given her after our first child was delivered by C-section. She needed blood, and got it. Unfortunately, it was tainted, and she received something she didn’t ask for or even know much about. That was 1979 when blood wasn’t screened for a host of virus’, including AIDS. We didn’t find out she had the Hep-C virus for another ten years until our family doctor noticed some elevated liver counts and prescribed further testing. We learned that Hepatitis-C is called the silent killer because it is so subtle in the way it attacks the liver and can eventually lead to liver failure or cancer. If it is active for too long and the symptoms become clearly noticeable, it is usually too late to do anything about it. In that respect it is similar to certain types of cancer.

There is the possibility that even though Cheryl’s treatment was cut way short, just enough of the viral-killing drugs stopped the virus from reproducing. Also, there is the possibility that because many of her friends and family prayed very specifically that what little treatment she received was sufficient to halt the disease, those prayers were effective. I prefer to think both theories are correct…God used the prayers of many to supercharge the medications which, in turn, stopped the virus. It may have stopped immediately or taken years, but the great news is she is free from this dark cloud of the unknown hanging over her head. This fantastic news is similar to how I felt when my younger sister was pronounced cancer-free after dealing with breast cancer a few years ago.

Am I grateful for this blessing? Of course, I am. But, that is only the beginning of my thoughts and emotions concerning the health of my best friend. For there are loved ones and acquaintances, work associates and strangers who carry with them grief and pain, loss and fear. We are all are aware of the devastation diseases such as cancer, AIDS, hepatitis, malaria, Ebola, etc. can have upon an individual and, sometimes, upon an entire nation. I have lost loved ones to disease and am aware of far too many who are currently dealing with cancer, ALS, Alzheimer’s, and the list goes on and on. I don’t think there is anyone untouched in some way by some sort of disease.

For those who are the sick ones, and to those who are not (but are directly affected) my heart goes out to you. Human suffering is as old as man and the consequences today are no more or less than those of yesteryear. Pain and loss are not respecters of anyone, any time or any place. I have witnessed the grief of so many in my brief lifespan, but by grace I have not become callous by it. On the contrary, when I learn of another’s plight, I can almost feel their pain and the heartache which accompanies the illness and treatments. I guess one might call this association a form of empathy. I state this because I, simply one among many, am affected when another is infected. I have seen some of the greatest acts of compassion during the greatest of trials, and for every one of them I stand in awe of what others do to assist those in need. And, I praise God for what He does. Whether He heals or doesn’t, He is always available to comfort.

I wish to end on a positive note by stating that there is much to rejoice about in spite of the scope of disease. New medical treatments and breakthroughs for specific diseases are actually eliminating some and curbing others to a point where folks may once again experience a better quality of life than ever thought possible just a few years ago. Although there is so much more that can be done to prevent or stop the flow of diseases like cancer, we are gaining ground. Just as God has placed intelligence within the soul of man, He continues to expand his mind to find cures, and increases the compassion of others to comfort the hurting. I have learned that there is usually something good which comes out of something bad. That is His way. I do not understand it, but accept it, and rejoice because of it.


Summer Rain

???????????????????????????????Ah, the cleansing, satisfying, cooling rain of summer…how sweet it is. Today is Sunday and it is afternoon. The rain started about two hours ago and has fallen steadily, uniformly and with confidence. The air is pure, the sky is beginning to clear and the dripping of rain water from tree leaves is occurring as I write.

My words are simply thoughts of appreciation and of wonder. No rain equals no life; it is as simple as that. In the fertile land I call home we have been blessed with an abundance of rain at just the right time and in the right amounts to sustain a healthy and green environment. The past three years we experienced serious drought-like conditions so this regular rainfall has been wonderful. Crops grow plentiful and lakes and ponds are full.

I sealed my deck with a stain-sealer liquid yesterday…before the rains came. Now I watch the water bead upon the planks of flooring and railings and marvel at the molecular structure of water and how it can form islands of liquid that will move when on an incline or create drops which fall to the ground with a pitter-patter that is so soothing. Currents of rain water flow across many streets and our rain barrel overflows. My heart overflows, as well, because of this blessing.

Rain is not a respecter of geography, tribe, skin color or religion. As we know, some areas of the earth receive more rain than they can accommodate while others receive barely a few inches an entire year. The Bible says that rain is not a respecter of persons, as it falls among the just as well as the unjust. I am both at varying times, and am most grateful for every ounce of this precious liquid from which I benefit greatly.

Tomorrow, the creeks and rivers will be moving at a fast pace, carrying with them rubbish that has accumulated but had no way of being relocated except for rain water, and lots of it. I have rubbish that accumulates within my heart and needs to be flushed away from time-to-time. Rain reminds me of this simple fact. As I receive the much-needed water from the sky, so I receive the much-needed Living Water from Heaven. I love the rain…every last drop of it. I hope you do, too. As you receive this living water, please do so with joy!