Monday, April 16, 2018


Memorial to Coach Fei

     She tried to kill herself. Lynn tried really hard. She saved enough pills to do the job. She waited until her husband would not be home for more than 12 hours. She took the pills and laid down to die. BUT he came home thirty minutes early. Her body was in the throes of death, but had not reached heaven's gates.
     It was 2008. The bottom had fallen out of the housing market. The family construction business went bankrupt. Her son-in-law was forced to leave the state to find another job taking her only child and two grandchildren with him. In the middle of a tumultuous marriage, she lost her family, her house, her livelihood and her standing in the community. The mental illness she struggled with most of her life overwhelmed her. No one needed her. She lost all hope. Lynn made a plan, took the pills and lost consciousness.
     She spent 3 days in a coma and eventually recovered enough to go home. She sought counseling, treatment and medication for bi-polar disorder. She struggled to understand why God didn't let her die. Was she not good enough to be with Him? She battled to find a reason to go on living. She made a choice to get up every morning and find a reason.
     A phone call on the afternoon of February 14, 2018 reminded Lynn that God always had a plan for her.  Her terrified daughter called asking for prayer. Both grandchildren were on lock down at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Lynn reached out to her prayer chain. We began to intercede for all the children, staff, and even the shooter.  
     Lynn's granddaughter heard shots fired and stayed crouched down with her classmates for four hours until led out by police. Her grandson was being interviewed by college football recruiters when the shooter walked by. The shooter killed his favorite football coach. Lynn's grandchildren survived with no physical scars, but lost 14 friends and three staff members.
            Lynn and her husband, Mark, spent all afternoon watching the news for updates. Relief swept over them when they heard the children were safe and the shooter apprehended.  When her daughter called and said, "Momma, would you please come?" Lynn automatically responded, "We'll be there as quick as we can."
            Early the next morning Lynn and her husband made the nine-hour road trip to Parkland to help in whatever way they could. When they arrived their grandson asked Mark to help him build a cross to memorialize Coach Feis. Together they went to Home Depot for supplies. They did not have to pay for anything. Home Depot donated all the materials. Grandfather and grandson worked together to create a memorial to a wonderful man and strengthened their own bond. The manual task served to ease the pain of loss.
     Both grandchildren were interviewed on national television about the shooting. They  represented their family and their faith in a mature and impressive manner.
     Lynn stayed the rest of the week to make it possible for her daughter and grandson to attend an previously scheduled scholarship interview out of state. He got the scholarship.
     Lynn did what she considered little things. She cooked favorite comfort foods, she did laundry and she let her 15-year-old granddaughter practice driving. Lynn lightened the grief by planning surprise outings. She took her granddaughter to the beach to get out of town and away from the trauma site. Another day she took her to a movie but not until they stopped at the Dollar Store to load up on candy.
     She took her granddaughter shopping. Sadly it was for funeral clothes.  Lynn attended several funerals with her granddaughter. The name that might be familiar to you is that of  her friend Peter Wang. Peter, a brave ROTC cadet, held the door while other students escaped to safety.

Lynn's presence lent a comforting and calming atmosphere and a safe place to cry and vent. Perhaps she was born for such a time as this.

     The Bible is full of stories of strong women. My favorite is Esther a beautiful young Jewess who risked her life to serve God and save her people. An orphaned child raised by her older cousin Mordecai, she became the queen of the Persian Empire.
Through an incredible act of bravery Esther saved her people from being completely annihilated, but not before Mordecai challenged her:

"Don't think for a moment that because you're at the palace you will escape when all other Jews are killed. If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?" Esther 4:13-14 NLV

     Two things stand out for me: God would deliver the Jews one way or another and/or, Esther could chose a divine destiny. Esther chose a "for-such-a-time-as-this-moment" to save her people and cement her place in history.
     I feel certain we all have a Moment where we are positioned in a particular place at a specific time for His purpose. For most of us it is not a history-cementing-moment. However small the Moment may be, it might change someone's life.
     We can only surmise how this story could have been different if Lynn had been successful in her suicide attempt. I know how my sister's three boys reacted to her suicide. None of it is pretty. Alcohol, drug abuse and jail time followed for them. Thirteen years later they are still tormented by her death.
     I'm so glad Lynn failed in her attempt. So is her family because she was there for such a time as this.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018


My daughter Lauren asked me for my recipe for Cottage Pie. I've only made it once or twice. You may think of this meat dish as Shepherd's Pie. I went to an incontrovertible authority :) Wikipedia for a definition:
Shepherd's pie or cottage pie is a meat pie with a crust of mashed potato
The recipe can vary widely. The defining ingredients are minced meat (commonly beef when named cottage pie or lamb when named shepherd's pie), typically cooked in a gravy with onions and sometimes other vegetables, such as peas, celery or carrots. The filling is topped with mashed potato. The pie is sometimes also topped with grated cheese.
Whichever pie you make you are following a tradition from the 18th Century where the poorer people, who lived in cottages, would make the pies from leftovers.
I do not care for lamb so I have never made Shepherd's Pie. I have used ground beef and chicken making my meat pie a Cottage Pie. I don't always want to take time to make gravy or peel potatoes so I plan this dish after a Sunday dinner of Pot Roast and Mashed Potatoes--a Planover! Midweek is the perfect time to serve the easiest Cottage Pie EVER!
Preheat Oven to 400 degrees
1 lb chopped leftover roast beef (or your choice of ground beef, turkey or chicken)
1 cup chopped onion (I use frozen)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon thyme (or your favorite seasonings)
12 oz bag frozen mixed vegetables (carrots, peas and corn are traditional, but use whatever you like)
12 oz jar beef gravy (or use your leftover gravy from Sunday Roast)
2 cups mashed potatoes (enough to cover the meat mixture)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Sauté chopped roast beef, onion and garlic until onions are translucent and beef is hot.
Stir in thyme and gravy
Add thawed (I nuke them) mixed vegetables
Combine and pour into pie pan
Top with mashed potatoes and cheese.
Bake at 400 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.
Need pictures? Here they are!
Combine beef and vegetables with gravy

Pour into pie plate
Top with Mashed Potatoes and Cheese
Bake for 20-25 minutes at 400 degrees!

Sooooo Yummy! Comforting and Easy!Freezes well too!

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

All the Money in the World

I left the theater a little sad and depressed after viewing the movie, "All the Money In The World." I'm old enough to vaguely remember the kidnapping of J. Paul Getty's grandson. It horrified me to think a grandfather would allow his purportedly favorite grandson's ear to be cut off rather than part with a tiny portion of his fortune. I would give my life for any one of my grandchildren, but then I don't have a fortune with which to part. Was J. Paul Getty really that greedy?

By the definition of greed--An inordinate or insatiable longing for unneeded excess, especially for excess wealth, status, power, or food--I suppose he was greedy. He had billions of dollars by today's calculations. Billions of which he never shared with any charity.

In contrast is the story of the poor widow :in the book of Luke:
21 And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury, and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites. So He said, “Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God,[a] but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had.”

The poverty stricken widow gave what little she had to help others. It amazes me that she could imagine anyone needing money more than she did. Her confidence that God would provide allowed her to give everything she had away.

I believe J Paul Getty suffered from a spirit of poverty which kept him oppressed. He tied his self-worth to his money. His billions did not give him the value he desired. His father told him he would never amount to anything and would ruin the company. He married and divorced five times. His philosophy seems to have been, "It's mine! All mine!" He had to hang on to his money because without it he was nothing.  Money did not bring him happiness or contentment. Poor, poor man.
I'm not to the point of giving everything I have away. God hasn't called me to do that, but I do strive to be more like the widow than the richest man in the world. Just something I was thinking about....

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

What is a King Ranch Casserole?

Our lovely community asked for volunteers to throw a Super Bowl Party for our first responders. Ralph and I signed up to bring an Appetizer and Main Dish to the police station. When the coordinator called to see what specific dish I was making I said, "King Ranch Casserole."
 "I don't know what that is," she responded.
"What?" I clutched my pearls. "You must be from the North.
"Yes, I'm from Chicago."
"I've only been through the airport although I hear it is an exciting city to visit," I said smoothly. "It is a layered chicken enchilada casserole familiar to all Texas households."
"That would be great. I think our officers would like that,"
Not a pretty picture, but the only one I got

I made a double recipe and a double recipe of Tamale Dip. It went over well and in response to the anxious requests for the recipes, here you go-- (It's also in my cookbook)

4-6 chicken breasts
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 10 3/4 oz cans cream of chicken soup
1 10 3/4 oz can mushroom soup
1 can Rotel tomatoes with chiles
1 lb cheddar cheese, grated
1 pkg. corn tortillas

In a soup pot, barely cover the chicken with water and bring to a boil. Add the garlic and bay leaves and decrease to simmer. Cook for 20 minutes. Remove the chicken from the broth. Allow the chicken to cool, then shred the meat into pieces, reserving the broth. NOTE: You can cheat on this part by using a rotisserie chicken and a can of chicken broth!

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and green pepper and sauté for 5 to 7 minutes, until soft. Add the soups, tomatoes, and 1/2 cup of the reserved broth. Add the shredded chicken to the soup mixture.

Preheat the oven to 375*. Butter a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.

Arrange the tortillas to cover the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Pour half the chicken mixture over the tortillas. Sprinkle half the shredded cheese over the chicken mixture. Repeat the layers. Bake the casserole for 30 minutes. Allow to cool until set, about 20 minutes. Cut into squares like lasagna and serve warm.

Add the onion and green pepper and sauté for 5 to 7 minutes, until soft.
 Add the soups, tomatoes, and 1/2 cup of the reserved broth.
Add the shredded chicken to the soup mixture.

Ralph grated up 2 lbs of cheese for me.
 I used half  in the Tamale Dip

Arrange the tortillas to cover the bottom of the prepared baking dish.

 Pour half the chicken mixture over the tortillas. 
Cover with cheese
Repeat the layers. Bake the casserole for 30 minutes. Allow to cool until set, about 20 minutes. Cut into squares like lasagna and serve warm.

This is a standard in every Texas home! Serve with tortilla chips, salsa, guacamole and a salad, it's sure to satisfy! I served it to a troop of Ukrainian Ballet Dancers as a taste of Texan culture. They were very happy!

If you missed the Tamale Dip Recipe on my Lace of Grace Facebook page, here it is again. Go to my page and LIKE me!
From the Kitchen of Deborah Fortune, Attorney at Law, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, who taught me how to enjoy the finer things in life after hours of tedious work.


1- 16 oz. can of chili w/beans
1 can tamales
1 onion grated (I microwave it to soften so the flavors blend)
1/2 lb grated cheddar cheese

Mash tamales with 1/2 to 1 can of chili (to taste) Add cheese and onion; heat in small crock pot. Add Tabasco sauce and chili powder to taste.

I make at least 2 or 3 times this recipe and put it in a crock pot with a basket of corn or tortilla chips by the adult beverages. If you can't find your husband, look for him by the Tamale Dip!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

God's Waterboy-Jay Gardner

By the age of 15 Jay had moved 15 times to seven states with two of those years in Puerto Rico. All the moves made him the new kid in school and a target for bullies. Gifted with strong arms, Jay learned to defend himself. He also learned to drink and smoke a joint with teenagers at the tender age of seven.
 He had aspirations to become a football player but an injury in high school crushed his dreams. He joined the Navy and went on to become the Light Heavyweight Champion in the West PAC. He enjoyed success, celebrity, and acclaim along with partying, drinking and drugs.  As it turned out his handlers belonged to the Yakuza, a criminal gang in Japan. 

Married with two beautiful children, Jay returned to Georgia where he won two Golden Gloves and a Georgia Tough Man competition. Sadly, the Tough Man couldn't beat the drugs and alcohol. A spiritual hurricane of an ugly divorce, drug addiction, and a crime spree led him to a prison sentence of 20 years with no parole.  BUT God....
 Jay observed the necklace of another inmate and asked where he got the beads to make it.  He was shocked to find the beads were made of scraps of paper, glued and then varnished. In his prison cell Jay contemplated this wonder. God spoke to his heart to draw the parallel of the pages of his life having been ripped and torn and how God could take Jay's life pages and create something beautiful...A hope, peace and strength in life's journey.
From that revelation in prison came Jay's B.A.R.S. (Beads and Reflections and/or Breaking Attitude/Addiction Reviving Souls). These beads are given with this Mission Statement:

Share buckets of hope,
peace and strength with 
a thirsty and hurting world.
We can't change the 
world, but one act of
 kindness can change
 someone's world.
Today, be kind and share
B.A.R.S. with someone.

My bracelet is going to a loved one who going to be deployed to a war zone for four months along with my prayers for protection, hope, peace and strength in the journey.

If you want to know more about this ministry or ask Jay to speak to your group or church, you can reach him at

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Jailhouse Rolls and Cinnamon Rolls

This recipe came from my neighbor, Judia Sarich, almost ten years ago with this explanation:
"These rolls were made for the inmates at the Beaumont jail. Our family first discovered and made the recipe as it was published in the Beaumont Enterprise, a local newspaper, during the late 1970's. At that time the newspaper indicated the rolls were frequently made as a holiday treat for prisoners in the City of Beaumont Jail. The guards loved the rolls so much they took the recipe home to their wives." The article below give specific credit to Ms. Juanita Ward, a former cook for the Beaumont Jail and later for the Jefferson County Jail. One article also credits former police chief and Judia's neighbor, Willie Bauer, with giving the recipe its name.

Meet-the-woman-behind-Beaumont's-famous Jailhouse House Rolls

You will love this recipe because there is no kneading involved. All the ingredients are blended in your heavy-duty mixer (Kitchenaid), turned into a greased bowl, and stored in the refrigerator until you are ready to roll it out. I make a  double recipe and turn half into cinnamon rolls. My daughter, Megan, makes a beautiful tea ring and breakfast pockets using the same dough.  The day before I make rolls I fix a simple comfort meal of meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and green beans. The extra mashed potatoes go into this recipe:


1 pkg yeast
1 ½ cups lukewarm water
1 cup Mashed Potatoes
2 sticks soft margarine (or butter), softened
4 whole eggs
1 cup sugar
1 ½ teaspoon salt
7 cups flour
1. Mix yeast with lukewarm water, set aside.
2. In large mixing bowl blend softened butter, potatoes, eggs, sugar and salt. (Don't worry if it separates. Everything will blend when you add the flour.)
3. Add flour to mixture and blend well.
4. Slowly add yeast water and mix thoroughly.
5. Turn dough into greased bowl. (I use my round Tupperware cake carrier)
6. Cover with damp cloth (or lid if you are using Tupperware) and store in refrigerator over night.
When ready to prepare:
7. Take bowl out of refrigerator.
8. Turn dough onto floured surface.
9. Roll out to ½ inch thickness.
10. Cut to size desired.
11. Place on greased baking sheet.
12. Let rise approximately two hours.
13. Cook on 425 for 7 to 10 minutes.
14. Remove from oven and brush with butter.


1 stick of melted butter
1 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon (or more if you like)
1/2 c. chopped nuts (opt.)
1/2 c. dried fruit (raisins, cranberries or cherries) (opt.)
Follow steps 1 through 9.
Spread dough with melted butter, brown sugar and cinnamon,add nuts and fruit if you like.
Roll up jelly-roll fashion, starting at long side, cut crosswise into 1-inch-thick) slices. (See Tip below). Place rolls into a lightly greased 13 x 9-inch pan. Let rise for approximately 2 hours. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.


1 c. powdered sugar
3 T. milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Stir together powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla; drizzle over rolls. Sprinkle with additional nuts if desired.

Dough may seem too thin, but will thicken
overnight. Roll it out as soon as you get it
out of the frig, it will be easy to work with.

Roll out to 1/2 inch

Spread with a stick of melted butter

Cover w/brown sugar, cinnamon
 and dried fruit. Roll up.

Dental floss is your secret weapon to
making perfect rolls.

Slide floss under the dough,
pull up and cross thread to cut
the dough w/o smashing it.
Leave space between rolls so they can
rise to double in size

I don't really need an icing with the caramel yumminess
created by the butter and brown sugar, but some in our
 family need it. It's easy enough to glaze when rolls are cooled.
I have the Breakfast Pockets recipe on my Pinterest Board. Give them a try! Happy Easter

Wednesday, March 15, 2017



The difficulty with packing for a five day cruise is the necessity to change clothes at least twice a day. This particular business trip requires a little more thought than simply throwing a couple of shorts and a  bathing suit into a bag.

I start with a chart and outline each day and time of individual activities. I pencil in potential outfits for each event. I review my color palette and narrow it down to one or two choices. Attached is a copy of the chart I use to organize my thoughts. 

DL 1420 Depart 9:05
Arrive Ft. Lauderdale 10:55
Check-in at hospitality desk on Deck 6
Open from 1:00-4:30 pm

Welcome Reception
7:00 pm to 8:00 pm
Pyramid Lounge

Dinner 8:30
King Lear-Deck 5, Table 651
Blk/Gold Sweater
Black Jacket
Black Jeans
Blk Sketchers

Black. Jumpsuit
Gold Sweater
Gold Sandals

03/07/17- Tuesday

Denim Capris
Navy tank
Blue floral kimono
Blue Sketchers
Black slacks
Royal Blue Cold-
Shoulder Sweater
Black sandals

Labadee, Haiti
Arrive 7:30 a.m.
Jet Ski's 9:45 a.m.
Depart 3:30 p.m.

Bathing Suit
Cover Up
Water Shoes

Black slacks
Turquoise Blouse
Black sandals
Falmouth, Jamaica
Arrive 8:30 a.m.
Hike to Waterfalls and
Beach Picnic
Depart 4:30 p.m.

Bathing Suit
Cover Up
Water Shoes

Black slacks
Black/Silver Top
Black Sandals

03/10/17 -Friday

6:00-10:00 pm Farewell Dinner
Giovanni's Table Restaurant
Denim Capris
Turquoise T-shirt
Blue Sketchers

Blue Tropical
Gold sandals
03/11/17 -Saturday
Ft. Lauderdale
Arrive 7:00 a.m.
Flight DL 2026, Depart 12:57 pm
Arrive Atlanta 2:53 pm

Black Jeans
Royal Blue Tank
Blk Floral Kimono
Black Sketchers

I place my chart in my carry on. It's an easy reference for events and times. You never want to be late or show up at the wrong venue on a business trip.

My evening attire is black with accessories in  bright colors. My daytime wear is denim with a variety of tops. 

If you're a person who hangs out by the pool, all you need are bathing suits and cover-ups for daytime. Sun damage and cellulite keep me in capris!

Shoes can really trip you up. I love them and I like different ones for each outfit but on a cruise the most important thing is comfort. The ships are large and you walk everywhere. I leave the high heels at home. You can pack a ton of flip-flops in very little space, i.e. the outside pockets of your suitcase. Having had many and varied foot surgeries, I enjoy my Sketchers GOGA Plus. They are cushioned with arch support.  I wear the navy with denim and the black with casual slacks. One pair of black flip-flops serve as my casual bed slippers. Dressy black sandals go with evening wear. That's only four pairs of shoes plus my water shoes which I pack in a plastic bag in case they are wet on the return trip. The shoes that can't go in the outside pocket of your suitcase should be placed at the bottom of your suitcase (toward the wheels). Heavy items at the bottom keeps a top heavy suitcase from falling over.

On this trip I took one pair of denim capris and one pair of black pants. I wore the capris during the daytime with various tops. The black slacks paired with dressy tops and sandals for the evening. I packed yoga leggings and tops to double as workout and comfort wear. I like to change pajamas every couple of nights so I packed two sets. For a five day trip I pack 10 pairs of underwear. I roll everything and place it in packing cubes.
I used four cubes. Two small ones for underwear and bras,
bathsuits, cover-ups and yoga wear in the largest one, medium for
socks, evening shape-wear and miscellaneous items which might get lost.
These lay flat in the suitcase and transfer nicely into drawers in the cabin
without unpacking. Packing up again is equally easy
A five day cruise has one formal night. A seven to ten day cruise has two formal nights. If you want to avoid packing formal wear all together plan to eat at the buffet or one of the specialty restaurants in the evening. There's always room service. You cannot get into the main dining room at night in shorts, so plan on khakis and a collared shirt or top. Hanging clothes and formal wear fold on top of the packing cubes.

For short plane trips like this one I carry my Genius Pack Flight Bag, no purse or carry on. I bought mine at Sam Moon in Dallas, but I've given you a link to order one. I found it on Amazon too, but nothing beats Sam Moon's $40 price tag. 

While on the ship you don't need a purse, just a lanyard to keep your Seapass Card handy. It serves as your room key and credit card. The only cash you need is for tips. I stick lip gloss and my phone in my pocket.

A small backpack is nice for shore excursions. We use it to carry towels, bathing suits and a water bottle for a trip to the beach. I the same bag for shopping expeditions.

If I'm flying internationally I always pack a small carry-on with what I consider to be essentials: medicine, jewelry, cosmetics, toothbrush and toothpaste, and a change of clothes, especially underwear. You never know when your luggage will take a side trip.

When visiting my daughter in Budapest I usually have a 10 hour flight with a 12 hour layover in London. It's nice to be able to wash up, brush your teeth and change your undies.

Here is a sample of a chart I sent my granddaughters to follow when we took them to Washington, DC. They were 8 and 10 years old at the time. I didn't get specific about their clothing choices. I gave them guidelines and room to fill in the blanks. One used it. The other didn't. It's all about what works for you. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014AA Flight Depart 7:40 a.m.
Arrive Washington D. C. 11:30 a.m.
Check-in JR Marriott
Washington & Lincoln Memorials
Jeans  or Shorts
Comfortable Walking Shoes
Bathing suit and cover-up
Friday, August 29, 2014
American History Museum
Jeans  or Shorts
Comfortable Walking Shoes

Saturday, August 30, 2014
Washington Zoo
Air and Space Museum
Jeans  or Shorts
Comfortable Walking Shoes
Dinner in Alexandria
Casual dress or pants

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Ford Theater
Spy Museum

Jeans  or Shorts
Comfortable Walking Shoes

Home to GiGi’s

Toothbrush/toothpaste                                      Blister bandaids
Hair Brush/rubber bands and clips                  Sunscreen/sunglasses/hat
5 pairs underwear                                             5 pairs of socks
2 sets of night clothes                                       Light jacket or sweater
Water bottle (must be empty at the airport)

The temperature will be in the 80’s in the daytime. In the 60’s at night. Currently an 80% chance of rain onSaturday. You may wear anything appropriate for school--dress, jeans or shorts. We will be walking everywhere. Make sure your shoes are comfortable. Flip flops for the hotel so your feet and shoes can air out a little.
I don’t know that we’ll have time to swim, but pack your swimsuit anyway.
We might eat on the wharf in Alexandria on Saturday night. We will be taking the metro and walking to our destination, so don’t get prissy. I’ll try not to.
I’ll bring a small backpack for first aid kit, snacks and umbrella. Don’t pack more than you can carry.

Holler at me if you have any questions. Safe travels, my friend!

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