Unofficial Start of Summer

Happy Memorial Day Weekend! I've traveled from Wilmore, KY to the coast of North Carolina this weekend, and I've seen veterans and many people showing love for our country and those who sacrificed for our freedom.

Here are just a few flags I've seen.

I hope you have the opportunity to show your pride in our country, and please take time to thank a veteran!

Be Light

We recently attended Kellianne Crouse's graduation from Asbury University. We were all excited to be there, and the gym quickly filled up and grew hot. I'd had a tough week and not slept well for days and when the speaker came up to the podium, I worried I might doze off.

The minute Samuel Rodriguez opened his mouth, I knew I wouldn't be falling asleep. He challenged the graduates and all of us to be light in a dark world.

Matthew 5:15 says, "People don’t hide a lamp under a bowl. They put it on a lamp stand. Then the light shines for everyone in the house."

Have you ever been in a dark house with no electricity? You know lighting one candle can fill a room with light. Pastor Rodriguez says when you have light and dark, light always wins. I was so moved by his talk, I Googled him. I also bought his book, Be Light. I hope to read it and share with you occasionally what I learn from this book. In the meantime, I hope we can all be light and share the good news of Jesus Christ.

I'm going to end with a few pictures of our favorite college graduate.

The Fragrance of a Horse Barn

Today's post is from Lillian's Cupboard. She graciously gave me permission to post it here.

One of my favorite bloggers, hensteeth, had a post recently about the smells of different kinds of food and the memories they invoke. (Be sure to read through the other posts on her blog – she writes so well and comes up with unusual topics.)

This made me think of one of my favorite smells, which is not related to food. I love the smell of a horse barn – the combination of straw, horses, dust, even a little manure.

My father spent his childhood in various horse barns since his father was a blacksmith and made part of his living traveling to county fairs to shoe the harness horses that were there for the races. This is a ca. 1914 picture of my grandfather and my father in the doorway of their horse shoeing shop.

My father had been one of the youngest harness horse drivers in the area but gave up working with horses when he married and had two daughters to support. Of course, we always went to the county fairs and spent most of our day hanging around the horse barns, talking to the owners, trainers and drivers. One of my earliest memories is sitting on a big trunk in a barn, collecting pennies from the horsemen for singing, “When I Grow Too Old to Dream”. I loved listening to the conversation as I took in the ambience of the dusty barn with the plaid blankets hanging on the wall, the sharp smell of the Absorbine used on the sore muscles of the animals, and the horses snorting, neighing and kicking their stall doors.

When I was very young, people would ask me what I was going to do when I grew up. I always said I was going to get a job and help Daddy buy a horse. Within months after graduation and getting my first job @ $30.00/week, my father told me he had a horse in mind and was ready for my contribution. This is one of our early horses winning a race in 1955. I made the jacket and cap my father is wearing.

I owned shares of my father’s horses off and on for many years until he was better established and my own expenses with four children didn’t leave enough to support a horse. My father continued to be a top driver/trainer in the southwestern Ohio area. In 1978, at age 66, he was driving a horse called Peter Horn at a track in northern Kentucky. After finishing second in a photo finish, he died of a heart attack. Our family said they knew if he died on a track, he died happy except that he would have wanted to be the winner. This is a winning photo of my father and Peter Horn in 1975.

A few days after his death, I was at work when I suddenly got a whiff of a familiar smell – straw, horse, barn, tobacco – the unforgettable essence of my father in his plaid shirt and twill pants. I turned around quickly, wondering who had come into the office directly from a horse barn and, of course, no one was there. Or maybe someone had been there and walked briskly off, as he always did – always in a hurry to get to some horse or some fairgrounds or some barn.

Thanks, Lillian for allowing me to share your story with my followers!

Armed Forces Day

May has a lot of important days to me.

Tim and I got married on May 27. May also has Mother's Day and the end of the school year. Mrs. Layton's birthday is May 28, and Kelli's birthday is May 19. If you live in Kentucky, Derby Day is a big day.

Today is Armed Forces Day in the United States. We should pay tribute to those who serve the United States' armed forces. If you see somebody today who is either serving or has served our country, please take a moment to thank them.

Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard. National Guard and Reserve wherever you serve, I'd like to thank you for your service.

Vacation Plans

When you plan a vacation, do you plan clothes, sunscreen, maps, and a list of places where you have reservations? Once when I was growing up, we went to Florida with extended family. Part of the trip involved Disney World. When we went to check into the resort, the clerk told us we were a day late. There were quite a few unhappy campers after we received that news, but it all worked out.

If I can't find time to read on vacation, I feel like I've been ripped off. I buy books ahead of time to make sure I'll have something good to read. When I went to Spain, I loaded my Kindle so I wouldn't have the added weight and I read on the plane, in airports, and in our down time.

In this picture, my backpack is stuffed with more than my Kindle for a weekend trip to London.

I also enjoy visiting bookstores when I'm on vacation. You never know what treasures you'll find like a local author who has written stories on the area.

This year Tim and I are heading back to Holden Beach, NC after years of visiting other places. I've already picked my books out and they are packed along with my travel Bible and devotional book. I even bought two books for Tim in case he wants to read. So, I'm ready and counting down the days.

Tim likes to take sports stuff like bocce ball and Kadima. It's good that we balance each other out. I encourage him to relax, and he encourages me to exercise.

I'd love to hear what you enjoy taking on vacation.

Anthony Robinson, United States Veteran and Entrapreneur

On Monday I shared with you about Chrisman Mills Farms and Anthony Robinson. Today I'd like to introduce you to Tony. I asked him about his time in the service.

It was an honor to serve our country. My service actually started in the Army Reserves but the majority of my time in, was USAF and left as a Staff Sergeant.

In today's economy it's not easy to start a new business, so I asked Tony to share a little about how he got started.

During the spring of 2013, I experimented with several designs for a carpenter bee trap to combat an increasingly persistent problem with the damage these pests were inflicting on my neighbors and my property. We had been told by a major pest control company that there wasn’t much they could do to eliminate our carpenter bee problem with chemical sprays or powders. Upon the very first day of hanging these traps I knew I had stumbled on a product that is highly successful for controlling and eliminating these bees. The following week I designed methods and jigs for mass production.

Chrisman Mill Farms Limited Liability Company was formed in the late spring of 2013 due in full to the huge success of the Wood Bee GoneTM carpenter bee trap with state government and retail store customers for ease of business dealings. Because of the seasonal nature of carpenter bees, other avenues of income were sought out… mainly cordless power tool Ni-Cad battery pack rebuilding (a short lived venture) and Black Walnut sales.

In the spring of 2014, online sales spiked so dramatically that it was necessary to hire a temporary employee to help manufacture the Wood Bee GoneTM traps. Peter Adams was hired and trained as the shop wood worker the first week of April. Together, Peter and I implemented new production methods and new equipment was purchased to increase productivity and quality. Peter’s temporary employment with CMF lasted until the first week of June. During the latter half of 2014 new products were added to our product line. Built in shop is a pine children’s picnic table. CMF also acquired a rather large inventory of premade children’s time out benches which are housed in a local warehouse. These benches are sold online and marketed as a multitude of different products. CMF also started online sales of hedge apples during the fall season along with Black Walnuts. Winter was spent opening up new online markets and updating internet and social media sites.

I truly believe that our philosophy of dealing with our customer’s on a personal level, and name recognition generated our early trap sales this past February 2015. By mid-March it was necessary to rehire Peter full time. March also found us defending our traps against our only major competitor who for a solid week hijacked our product page on Amazon. At the end of the ordeal we were rewarded with brand registration and our competitor being band from that site. There was such a high demand for our Wood Bee GoneTM traps with our online market places, that it was necessary to increase the unit price and hire another two temporary employees. Spring of 2015 saw our traps being sold in 17 retail stores verses the 5 we had during 2014. It was at this point we realized the necessity of building traps year around to satisfy demand rather than hiring and training temp workers each season. It was also necessary at this point to hire office/shipping help. Through research in 2015, we found our Wood Bee GoneTM traps, with a slight modification, are also effective at catching hornets, wasps and other stinging insects. Our traps are now being sold in online market places as the Hornet Hotel and has brought us additional sales. Chrisman Mill Farms has also added diatomaceous earth to its product list.

This past December I was made aware that our carpenter bee traps were infringing on a US Patent held by Brian Blazer from Heflin, Alabama. I promptly visited Mr. Blazer to apologize for my ignorance of his patent and became very good friends with him. In January we secured a license to manufacture and sell our traps under his patent... one of the only two companies legally authorized in the United States.

This year Chrisman Mill Farms employees eight full time employees and manufactures nearly 300 carpenter bee traps per day. Also new this year is a contract with corporate Southern States Co-Op to supply their stores nationally.

Here's a picture of Tony and Brian Blazer. I hope you find Tony's story as inspiring as I did. If you'd like to learn more about Tony and Chrisman Mills Farms, here's the link.

Made in the USA by Veterans

We've had a problem with bees this spring on our back deck. They are not honey bees, but wood bees. I actually never knew they existed until we moved into our current home. We discovered the best way to swat at them was with a tennis racket, but that gets tiresome.

Yesterday Tim went to Southern States and bought a Wood Bee Gone Trap. I was so excited to see it was made by veterans right here in Jessamine County.

The traps are made at Chrisman Mill Farms.

I visited their website and discovered they make picnic tables and benches for children. The men who started this company are veterans. They sacrificed their lives for us. It was a privilege to support their business, and I wish them luck in the future.

Chrisman Mills Farms is a company created by veterans, and they have my support! Thank you gentleman for serving our country, and thank you for giving us an option to buy products Made in the USA!

Join me on Thursday to learn more about Anthony Robinson.

It's a Dog's Life

I asked some friends what they thought of when they heard the phrase, it's a dog's life. Here are some of the replies I got.

Relaxed. Fun. Stress free. Eat when you want and sleep when you want.

Saturday night after a week full of stress, Tim and I found ourselves walking Heinz. We deviated from our normal pattern and ended up at Centennial Park.

We continued walking to the Mackenzie Sayre Dog Park.

We entered the area for small dogs and let Heinz off his leash. The park opened in the fall in memory of Makenzie Sayre, a sweet young woman we had the privilege of knowing for years.

The week's stress began to roll off our shoulders as we enjoyed watching Heinz run, sniff, and enjoy his freedom.

Next time you're feeling stressed, I hope you can find the time to go for a walk. And don't forget, it's a dog's life.

Flag of the Week from Ft. McHenry

This week's flag is brought to you from my brother, Chris Lutz. It also happens to be his birthday. Happy birthday, Chris!

Chris and a group of church friends have been in Baltimore on a mission trip. They took time off Sunday to visit Ft. Mc Henry.

Ft. McHenry is famous for the Battle of Baltimore during the War of 1812. Francis Scott Key was part of this bloody battle against the British. Key wrote The Star Spangled Banner during the night of this battle.

One interesting fact is whenever a new US flag is designed, it is first flown over Ft. McHenry.


Perseverance is defined by Merriam-Webster as: continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition : the action or condition or an instance of persevering : steadfastness.

I'd like to share a story of perseverance with you.

My son, Bill, married into a running family. His wife runs as well as her siblings. Bill will try any sport and give it his best shot. Months ago Bill and Amanda began training for Disney's Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend. Another thing about Bill is that he loves Star Wars, and they both love Disney.

They spent hours daily training for this weekend. The persevered through injuries and found other ways to train like swimming and biking as their feet healed. A few friends and family began praying for them. As they left town, they still hoped to both be able to compete. Bill's plan was to run both days, and Amanda would run on Sunday.

Another challenge was the start times. The races start before the parks open which means 5:00 a.m. The buses start running at 2:30 to get the runners to the park in time to race.

After the race, Bill shared with me that they both felt so much better. Their feet didn't hurt, and they both were able to run the race(s). I am so proud of these two for persevering to reach their goals.

I hope to invite Bill and Amanda to share more about this fun race. Until then, "May the Force be with You."


"But David encouraged himself in the Lord." 1 Samuel 30:6

Today I'd simply like to share Psalm 42 with you. These words are from David. Yes, King David. He struggled with doubts, depression and cruelty from his enemies.

Despite everything going against him, David found encouragement in God.

1 As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, my God.
2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?
3 My tears have been my food
day and night,
while people say to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”
4 These things I remember
as I pour out my soul:
how I used to go to the house of God
under the protection of the Mighty One[d]
with shouts of joy and praise
among the festive throng.
5 Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.
6 My soul is downcast within me;
therefore I will remember you
from the land of the Jordan,
the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar.
7 Deep calls to deep
in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
have swept over me.
8 By day the Lord directs his love,
at night his song is with me—
a prayer to the God of my life.
9 I say to God my Rock,
“Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I go about mourning,
oppressed by the enemy?”
10 My bones suffer mortal agony
as my foes taunt me,
saying to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”
11 Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.

Flag of the Week

It seems fitting to bring you a flag from Augusta, Georgia.

Congratulations to Danny Willett on winning the Masters. His baby was due to be born in April 10, but Zachariah James came on March 30. So Danny Willett decided to play in Augusta this week, and what a great decision that turned out to be.

In addition to the surprise win by Danny Willett, three golfers scored a hole-in-one on the sixteenth hole. This is the first time in Masters history for this to happen in a single round. Congratulations to Shane Lowry, Davis Love III, and Louis Oosthuizen.

Once again congratulations to Danny Willett on winning the Masters, and congratulations on your new baby!

The Masters

I grew up playing golf. The first time I remember going to the golf course, I was probably nine years old. I grew up in a small town that had a Par 3 City golf course. My brother and I took lessons for kids and played a few times.

When I got older, my mother suggested, in the way only a mother can do, that I try out for the high school girls golf team. I made the team, but it was probably because they were desperate for players. So I played golf in high school but quit when I started college.

The first spring I lived in Georgia, two things impressed me. The beauty of the azaleas and the Masters. If you turn on ESPN, the golf channel, or your local news, I'm sure you've heard mention of this prestigious tournament and seen the beautiful azaleas.

I always enjoy hearing about the players and their lives and what inspires them. To compete at this level, or really any love there has to be determination and dedication.

I'm sure you've all heard of Tom Watson. He won the Masters twice. At sixty-six years old, he played his final Masters this year. Friday he received a standing ovation as he walked to the 18th green. He ended with 152 which was two shots over making the cut. Amazing!

Then there's Bubba Watson. He's a UGA graduate, and one of my favorite players. He has shared his personal story of trying to adopt to encourage and inspire others. Twice Bubba and his wife, Angie, had adoptions fall through. At last in 2012, Bubba played in the Masters while Angie remained in Florida completing the adoption of their son, Caleb. What a sweet victory. He won the Masters and more important, they finally had a child.

Phil Mickelson continues to play competitively despite having psoriatic arthritis.

Do you know about Jordan Spieth? His parents were college athletes. Jordan played baseball before transitioning to golf at twelve years old. His brother, Steven plays basketball at Brown University. And Jordan is a devoted big brother to his sister, Ellie. I've seen her at many of his tournaments cheering for him.

Rory McIlroy won four major championships by the time he turned twenty-five. The Masters is the elusive title he's yet to win.
I can only imagine the pressure he's putting on himself to win this year.

So if you are channel surfing and see golf, please don't think it's a silly game. There is so much more to these men than golf.

Janet Ferguson and Leaving Oxford

Today I'd like to welcome back my good friend, Janet Ferguson. Here's Janet.

Where would you run to escape your problems?

If something terrible happened in your life, is there a place that gives you peace? Oxford, Mississippi is the setting for my book called Leaving Oxford. My main character is in a tragic accident in Los Angeles and wants to escape her heartbreak. I chose the charming area for a backdrop because I had fond memories of the quaint college town.

There’s nothing like walking the downtown square and indulging in sweat tea and a local delicacy. From fried green tomatoes and catfish to fine dining with a Southern flair, Oxford will meet your culinary expectations and more. Just a stroll down the road is one of the most beautiful campuses in the nation. And people do take relaxing strolls along the sidewalks lined with magnolias and giant oaks.
But like in real life, no matter how far we run, our problems follow us.

The heroine of my novel suffers from a severe anxiety disorder. I’ve experienced anxiety difficulties, and I’m open about it. In being open, I’ve met many individuals plagued by anxiety or depression. These terrible disorders also carry an unfair stigma which only adds to the suffering. My desire was to write a novel that would encourage people with serious anxiety problems.

Leaving Oxford is what came of it. God has still been able to use me as a children’s minister, a youth volunteer, and in so many other ways despite my weakness. Whatever struggles and weaknesses you’re facing, you aren’t alone. No matter where you are in life, you are still glorious and useful in God’s eyes.

I hope and pray that at least one person is encouraged by my story.

If you or someone you care about has dealt with anxiety or similar issues, you may enjoy this clean but quirky romance set in Mississippi. If you buy it and enjoy it, I’d be honored if you would leave a review on Amazon. You can sign up for updates and other of my quirky personal stories on my newsletter page.
Thank you for having me on your blog, Jackie!

Here’s the link and a description of the story.
Releasing in April 15
Amazon EBook Pre-Order Discount available now for 99 cents.
Leaving Oxford
Southern Hearts Series ~ Book 1

Escaping home to Oxford, Mississippi, seemed like a good idea. Until it wasn’t.

A year after a tragic accident in Los Angeles flipped her world upside down, advertising guru Sarah Beth LeClair is still hiding away in her charming hometown of Oxford, Mississippi. And she may well be stuck there forever. Suffering from panic attacks, she prays for healing. Instead, her answer comes in the form of an arrogant football coach and an ugly puppy.

Former celebrity college quarterback Jess McCoy dreamed of playing pro football. One freak hit destroyed his chances. Although he enjoys his work as the university’s offensive coordinator, his aspirations have shifted to coaching at the highest level. His plans of moving up are finally coming together—until he falls for a woman who won’t leave town.

As the deadline for Jess’s decision on his dream career looms, the bars around Sarah Beth’s heart only grow stronger. But it's time to make a decision about leaving Oxford.

Flag of the Week

This week's flag comes from Oxford, Mississippi. Thanks to my friend, Janet Ferguson for sharing this picture.

Oxford has been called the “Cultural Mecca of the South.” It is home of the University of Mississippi and the Ole Miss Rebels.

Oxford offers shopping, sports, history, good music, great Southern food, and fun times.

Come back on Thursday and get to know more about Janet.

Holy Saturday

Today, the day between Good Friday and Easter, is known to many as Holy Saturday.

Matthew 26:62-66
62 The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. 63 “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ 64 So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.”

65 “Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” 66 So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.

Good Friday

Today is Good Friday, the scariest day of the Gospel story for Jesus' disciples and followers. Right after the last supper we move to Jesus' arrest and trial and crucifixion.

I've recently discovered artist Lorenzo Lotto a painter from Italy in the 1500s. On this Good Friday, I'd like to share some of his artwork.

In the busy days of life, let's don't forget Jesus' amazing sacrifice.

The Last Supper

The Last Supper from the 22nd chapter of Luke.

Now the Festival of Unleavened Bread, called the Passover, was approaching, 2 and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some way to get rid of Jesus, for they were afraid of the people. 3 Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve. 4 And Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus. 5 They were delighted and agreed to give him money. 6 He consented, and watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present.

7 Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. 8 Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover.”

9 “Where do you want us to prepare for it?” they asked.

10 He replied, “As you enter the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him to the house that he enters, 11 and say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ 12 He will show you a large room upstairs, all furnished. Make preparations there.”

13 They left and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.

14 When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. 15 And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”

17 After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. 18 For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”

19 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”

20 In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.[a] 21 But the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table. 22 The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed. But woe to that man who betrays him!” 23 They began to question among themselves which of them it might be who would do this.

24 A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. 25 Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. 26 But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. 27 For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. 28 You are those who have stood by me in my trials. 29 And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, 30 so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

31 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

33 But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.”

34 Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.”

35 Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?”

“Nothing,” they answered.

36 He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. 37 It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’[b]; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.”

38 The disciples said, “See, Lord, here are two swords.”

“That’s enough!” he replied.

Cake Tasting Time

The other night, Kellianne and Scott arrived at the house with thirteen cupcakes. These weren't just any cupcakes, but these were big cupcakes of different flavors, toppings, and fillings. One of these would be a future wedding cake.

Each cupcake was big enough to easily cut into four pieces for us to try. So armed with forks, knives, plates, and a list to rate our favorites we sat down to begin the 2016 cake tasting.

The first cupcake was mint chocolate chip. Oh my goodness, it was delicious. Next up chocolate.

We went on to try pink strawberry and white strawberry. Yellow marble and white marble. Chocolate with Ressee's candy on top, regular chocolate chip, lemon, Irish, plain chocolate, and traditional white wedding cake. The cake lady also provided a strawberry filling and a raspberry filling to try with different cupcakes.

We had a ton of fun tasting each cupcake and imagining how it would taste in July.

I've already been asked what flavor was chosen, but I'm not going to spoil the surprise.