Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Unexpected Christmas Card

Every blog should have a catchy Christmas post. I intended to title mine "10 No-No's of Sending Christmas Cards". It would have started something like this:

1. No-no #1. Don't address your card to "The Family Name". For example, we received a card addressed to THE STAFFORD FAMILY. Before we even opened it to see who sent it, my husband said, as he was reading the envelope and shaking his head, "They don't even know our names!". I admit it does seem a bit impersonal to send a greeting to a household without addressing the individual persons.

2. No-no #2. Don't sign every card you send with a coined expression. Imagine this. You go to the mailbox to find a Christmas card from a friend you haven't talked to since last Christmas. YOU ARE EXCITED to hear from them until you open the card to read....Christmas Blessings, signed xxxxx. You wonder if your friendship really means anything to them or at least that's what crossed my mind.

Yes, that's how my list was starting to come together until yesterday when Steve found this in the mailbox.

An envelope from a return address and person neither one of us knew. More suspiciously, addressed using my complete formal name. I encouraged Steve to open it. He found this:
A beautiful Christmas card with Mary, Baby Jesus and scripture on it. Who could it be from? Puzzled, Steve opened the card to find this:

Inside the card held the explanation:
It said:

Dear Mrs. Stafford and Family,
     I have given much thought to the auto accident that occurred on April 11th of this year with your daughter, Sloane. (If the accident report is correct) I think there may have been some shared responsibility for the accident.  The check enclosed should hopefully cover any responsibility that may have been mine.   Sincerely, _______________

WOW! It took me a minute to remember the accident because Sloane has been hit five times this year, no fault of her own. She was hit by an uninsured driver that she had to pay for, this accident which this gentleman declared was not his fault that she paid for, a minor bump that didn't get reported and was not necessary to repair, a hit and run that didn't get fixed and finally an accident where the other person's insurance paid!

This random act of kindness is refreshing to my faith!  I will call this gentleman, thank him and extend our sincere appreciation for his thoughtfulness. The accident did cost us $1500 to repair Sloane's car. I'll also tell him he's forgiven. We forgave him the minute the stress of the accident subsided. Christmas Blessings to him! I'm glad he's free from his burden just in time for Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all,
The Happy Handicap

Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmastime, an original poem

Merry Christmas to all,
The Happy Handicap

Friday, December 19, 2014

Easy Appetizer for The Office Potluck

So you need a quick, easy appetizer for the office potluck. I have just the things you need to make a 2-minute Dip that will make you the talk of the office! All you need is one 8 oz. pack of cream cheese, Three Onion Rub and a Garlic and Brie Baker. Where do you get the rub and the baker?        


Simply place the cream cheese in the Brie Baker. Sprinkle 1 to 2 tbsp. Three Onion Rub onto the cheese. Season to your tastes using as much or as little rub as you like! Pop into the microwave covered on HIGH for two minutes. Remove, stir and serve with your favorite party crackers! Delicious!

You might also like a small bamboo spoon to stir with and the bamboo platter to serve your jaw-dropping magic dip on....Make this easy appetizer for the office potluck just minutes before serving in the office microwave. Too convenient, too easy, 2 minutes!

Star of the party,
The Happy Handicap

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

What Will You Give?

what can you give?
Tis the giving season!  Matthew 2 tells us the story of the wise men. Verse 11 says "And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshiped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh." 

One verse gives three examples of things we should do year round for the Christ child. Bow or fall down before him in reverence, worship him and bring him gifts. I wonder why we only reference this verse at Christmas? I want to focus on the fact the wise men brought him gifts. Think about the question: What will you give? 

Often times when we think about giving to Jesus it involves someone else; taking a meal to a shut-in, visiting someone in the hospital, giving time or money to missions or building an access ramp at someone's home. In the wise men example, it wasn't recorded that they gave Mary, Joseph or anyone else gifts. We are not told they offered the couple a camel to get to Nazareth or took care of Baby Jesus while they ate a nice quiet meal on them. The Bible specifically says "they presented unto him gifts".

What will you give? Please note every time you give something to God, you always get something back. The wise men were warned in a dream not to return to Herod. God saved their lives. The woman with an issue of blood gave Jesus her faith and she was healed. The disciples gave Jesus five loaves and two fishes and they fed a hungry multitude. Jesus was given water and turned it into wine for the wedding guests. Give him a sinful black heart and you'll get it back cleansed whiter than snow.

I accepted my birth defect at an early age. I gave it to Jesus completely when I quit hiding it and started using it for his glory. What can you give him? Something personal to you. Bitterness from being wronged? Sickness that doctors have told you can’t be helped? Fear of your finances? Open wounds from a failed relationship? After I shared this message, a lady told me she was giving him her food addiction. Amen! I know he can't wait to give her something awesome in return! Over the next few days until Christmas, think about what you can give him. Write it down. Wrap it. Put it under your tree. Open it on his birthday. Present it to him and celebrate a special time of giving.

Merry Christmas,
The Happy Handicap

If you'd like to share something you will give him, please leave a comment!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Easy and Inexpensive Strawberry First Birthday Party

Happy 1st Birthday to my granddaughter Lisette Arabella! She's sweetly Lissy to us. She's a beauty with strawberry blonde hair, big round blue eyes and a spirited personality that leaves me shaking my head while trying to hold back a smile. I love this little girl. Her mom is my daughter Sydnee. We wanted her first birthday to be as special as she is, yet easy and inexpensive. Mom picked a strawberry theme and Operation First Birthday Party commenced. If you like our ideas, you can do it too! Here's how with approximate costs and where to find the stuff you'll need.

DECORATIONS. Mom used fabric to make streamers. She tore them for a shabby chic look. They are her signature design even using them at her wedding for the cake background.

You will need 1/4 to 1/2 yard of 3 to 4 coordinating fabrics for streamers. She used a Strawberry Shortcake fabric, olive green and beige chevron, pink and white polka dot and pink and white chevron. Cost $10 Be sure to use coupons for fabric at Hobby Lobby or JoAnn's. Streamers were draped from the light fixture over the food table as shown and hung from the curtain rods in the dining area. Sydnee used chalk and a small decorative chalkboard for Lisette's name as seen in the picture. Cost $5 You can find all these supplies at Hobby Lobby or JoAnn's.
The Birthday Girl's high chair was decorated in the same fabrics as the streamers as seen in the pic. Buy about 1/4 yard extra of the two fabrics you want to use to decorate the high chair. Cost already included above.  We try to reduce costs by clipping coupons also.
FAVORS. Helium balloons courtesy of Auntie Scronge were tied to the food table legs. The balloons doubled as decorations and favors. Young party guests were given a balloon to take home as a favor. Kids love balloons! Cost $10 from a local grocery floral department.
SMASH CAKE. Lisette doesn't eat sugar. I was challenged to plan food with low or zero sugar content. I found this adorable cake on pinterest and recreated it. I used a Wilton 4" cake pan I ordered from Amazon for $6 to reproduce the small layers. My icing is 1/2 cup real heavy whipping cream whipped with 1 tbsp. powdered sugar. The layers are Duncan Hines Classic White with a smidge of Wilton Christmas Red for the bottom layer, a smidge of Wilton Pink for the middle and 3 drops of liquid food coloring for the green. A white chocolate (colored with pink) dipped strawberry on top with a drizzle of yellow white chocolate. Cost $10 (including pan cost) I had all the coloring on hand so I don't have a cost for them. You don't have to use Wilton, it's just what I had previously purchased. What do you think?
smash cake
FOOD. Food is the biggest expense. Pink Princess Punch I'm serving above was a hit with everyone. I used this recipe. I bought a cute water bottle label on Etsy. Cost $2.50 for label file. I had the label paper on-hand.
strawberry labels
Strawberry Shortcake for all Adults! I used fresh strawberries and Classic White Duncan Hine Cake Mix as the shortcake baked in cupcake tins. I used 1 to 1 1/2 cupcakes per cup with about 1/4 cup strawberries each cup. I whipped more cream from the recipe above layering in the cups with cake and strawberries. 1 bag of frozen strawberries and 1 cup sugar pureed together made the strawberry sauce which was drizzled into each cup just before serving. The perfect touch! Cost $35-$40 depending on price of strawberries.

shortcake cups
A plate of white chocolate covered strawberries fit the theme perfectly!
white chocolate covered strawberries
THE OUTFIT.  Onesie from Etsy. Hard decision with so many to choose from.  Simply pick the one you love the best! Search "first birthday onesie" and so many different themes will come up. Cost $26 including embroidery Lisette's Grandnan (my mom) made the Strawberry Shortcake skirt. I'm sure you can find one on Etsy or maybe sew one yourself. And finally....
strawberry shortcake skirt
THE SHOES. Red Baby Converse from Cost $24
baby tennis shoes
Total Cost Estimate for this Easy and Inexpensive Strawberry First Birthday Party is $150 - $200 for 25 guests or $8 per person. Such a SUCCESS!

One Tired Tammy,
The Happy Handicap

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Is There Really Peace on Earth?

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
God is not dead nor doth he sleep! 
Peace on earth. 
Goodwill to men. 
The bells are ringing. 
Does anybody hear them? 

Please listen to this song "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" by Casting Crowns. Click the link in haste just like the wise men went to find Jesus. Turn it up LOUD and really take it in.  Click replay at least a dozen times! Soak it up!

Every time I listen to the song I get cold chills just thinking about what Jesus rescued us from. Let me try to describe what I feel when I listen intently to the song, eyes closed. I'm transported to the middle of an Old English countryside with a beautiful church in the foreground. The reflection of the warm glow of candlelight flickering in the windows bounces off the winter landscape. I'm aware of a choir at my side angelically repeating "Peace on Earth", "Peace on Earth". The heavy clang of the church bells begin to ring. My head lifts toward the sky to feel delicate snowflakes trickle down from the heavens softly, gently touching my face. As the snowflakes fall, I feel the pure white cleansing power of Jesus almost as if he's standing right above me touching the air with his finger making snowflakes just for me. The music moves me to raise my hands and extend my arms up to praise Him. The One the bells are ringing for!  I'm light as air. Any moment, I may start floating into the atmosphere of cloudy white fluff. 

Oh, the wonderment! 
Is this peace on earth? 
The song ends and I return to myself but not before I've lingered in his glory wanting to stay there forever.

What does peace on earth mean to you...personally? Everybody wants peace on earth for the planet that spins around daily but what about for yourself? Jesus said in Luke 12:51-52 "Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you , Nay, but rather division: For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two and two against three." What's this division Jesus talks about? He's talking about peace in your earth, your body, your tabernacle, your soul. The peace that only comes from Him. Accepting Jesus as Savior divides us from eternal damnation and brings us eternal peace.

John 14:27 Jesus says "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." 
Not troubled 
Not afraid 

So, is there really peace on earth? Yes! How do you find it? Accept that sweet little Jesus boy that was born in a manger as Lord of your life. The song "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" will take on new meaning. Can you hear the bells ringing? Peace on Earth. Like a choir singing. Peace on Earth. Like the angels singing. Peace on Earth. Goodwill to men.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote the poem in 1863 that was later set to music in 1874 during a desolate time in his life.  His son was killed in war and his wife died in an accidental fire. The bells on Christmas day gave him renewed hope. In 2008, Mark Hall of Casting Crowns recorded his own arrangement of the song which is heard in the link above. God bless you this Christmas season. May you hear and embrace the message of the bells. 


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Will you be rewarded?

december host rewards
I became a Pampered Chef Consultant in August. I love my new business despite almost cutting the tip of my finger off at my first show! Who wouldn't? I set my own hours, order lots of stuff with other people's money and reward my hosts. Best of all, I get paid for having so much fun. This isn't a plug for my business, okay, maybe it is but God certainly gave me a message this week through The Pampered Chef!

This is how the Pampered Chef Host Opportunity works. I coach you on several things; number of people to invite to your show, getting outside orders, what to cook at your show to get the most sales and how many sales you need to get the rewards you want. The larger your sales, the higher the rewards. The most important thing to understand is you have to have $200 in sales to get rewarded. No exceptions!

The last 3 months have been very interesting as I've watched how some hosts are very eager, work hard and exceed their expectations of rewards. I've had some hosts sell just over $200 to barely get the reward. I've had one host that didn't meet the $200. Instead of not rewarding her, I purchased the dollar amount she needed to get her reward.

The Bible says in Proverbs 24:14 "So shall the knowledge of wisdom be unto thy soul: when thou hast found it, then there shall be a reward, and thy expectation shall not be cut off." Here's the Pampered Chef for the soul message.  We host our own soul. Ministers and others coach us how to get the reward. We know the reward requires the forgiveness of Jesus. No exceptions! Some will give their whole heart and life to him for the greatest reward. Some will give him their sins to receive forgiveness narrowly escaping but still get the reward. Then sadly, some will totally disregard the coaching, oral and written, missing the reward forever. We can't obtain the reward alone. We will always come up short. Jesus gave the amount we can't purchase. Will you be rewarded?

Do you like to be pampered? I can pamper you with kitchen tools. Want the ultimate pamper?  A reward of salvation from Jesus! He has all the right spiritual tools to cook you well done. He is the recipe for reward and great expectation!

Be pampered,
The Happy Handicap