Good Horse Sense!


Dream BIG! However, never get too BIG for your dreams.

Inventors want their gadgets and gizmos marketed and used. Entrepreneurs want their products and services to perform well and to be profitable. Does it matter where the ideas and innovations are marketed or how? Not as long as those ideas and innovations are represented honestly and presented fairly.

Writers want to be read — by as wide an audience as possible. Does it really matter if the book is hardcover or a paperback, in print or available in an ebook format? Singers and songwriters want to be heard — in a variety of mediums. Should a musically-inclined dreamer sneer at an opportunity to perform for a local venue, be heard on a small radio station, or be produced by an independent record label? These are steps forward to bigger and better things, after all. So, should we underestimate or devalue any opportunity or venue? The simplest and most straightforward answer comes from God’s Word: “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin….” (Zechariah 4:10 NLT)

Of course, not every person pursuing a dream is a “beginner.” Many may feel they’re well on their way to success, and that they’ve paid their dues; others may feel they’ve already arrived. Still, should these dreamers look down their noses at lesser opportunities to spread their talents and abilities? Before you answer, please allow us to share the following example of an actor who momentarily got just a little too big for his britches — and later regretted it.

Actors want to be seen. Right? And famous! And remembered! Remember Rocky Lane? He was a handsome stage actor discovered in the 1930s by a Fox Studios talent scout. But “Rocky” Allan Lane was never able to make it as a leading man in A-list productions. However, Lane found his niche, when he was in his forties, starring in a string of popular “B” movie westerns. During the 1940s through the early-1950s, Lane enjoyed enough success to be featured on kid’s lunchboxes. But by the late 1950’s he was back to smaller parts, mostly in TV westerns.

Only hardcore western fans and a few nostalgia buffs seem to remember those Rocky Lane horse operas today. Although he made close to four dozen of these short films, only a handful are available now. But the character actor got another — even greater — shot at immortality in 1961. Lane was in his early fifties by then, but apparently he was still tightly gripping the reigns of the idea he had “star” potential. When he was approached by a television producer with a steady job offer, Lane turned it down cold.

It was easy work in a weekly television series, but with good pay. The producer wanted Lane to provide the humorous voice for a wisecracking horse! Lane felt the job was beneath him; which shows how far Hollywood and actors have come since then, because Bradley Cooper, the A-list actor nominated for an “Oscar” for his lead performance in American Sniper (2014), recently supplied the voice for an ornery raccoon in Gaurdians of the Galaxy!

Well, the producer finally convinced Lane to do the voice, but the actor had two stipulations: he didn’t want an acting credit, and he wanted his part in the series kept a big secret. He wanted absolutely no association with the TV show. That wasn’t exactly using good horse sense, however, because Mister Ed ended up being a top-rated series during its six-year run, and is now considered a cult classic.

Make my day: Clint Eastwood happily guest starred in an episode of MISTER ED.

The scheming-but-lovable Mister Ed was so popular, in fact, that some of the biggest stars of the time wanted to play opposite the horse. A few who came on the show, playing themselves, included Clint Eastwood, Zsa Zsa Gabor, George Burns and baseball great Leo Durocher. And today — five decades later — people still fondly remember Mister Ed. He’s immortal, so to speak. Rocky Lane? Not so much. We’d never heard of him before we researched the show.

Leo Durocher (left) played ball with Mister Ed (literally). Right: Ed’s costar, Alan Young, playing Wilbur Post.

After Mister Ed became a hit, Lane decided he wanted that screen credit after all. Too late! The show was already crediting Mister Ed as playing himself — and the producers didn’t want to spoil the fun for all the kids watching by saying otherwise! Snort!

Horses may have been beneath Rocky Lane in all those westerns — literally — but doing  Ed’s voice, as the actor realized too late, was not. Too bad he didn’t come off his high horse sooner! (Sorry.) Moral: lighten up. Don’t take yourself TOO seriously. And above all, stay humble, no matter how much success you encounter. Dream big, but don’t get too big for your dreams! “For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 14:11 NLT)

Young (left) as Wilbur, and Mister Ed as himself.  Ed: “All us big celebrities just play ourselves!”

The Cookie Jar (Angel in the Kitchen)


Do you have a cookie jar in your kitchen?

Cookie jars were first used in England toward the end of the 18th century — only they were called biscuit barrels. These containers were usually simple glass jars with metal lids. However, tea biscuits were frequently sold in metal containers and these “biscuit tins” were often saved and reused.

For some reason, cookie jars started becoming popular in the United States during the Great Depression (1929). (Perhaps people were feeling these common household containers were a safer place to stash their hard-earned nickels and dimes!) Around this time, cylindrical-shaped stoneware cookie jars, many of which were decorated with a floral pattern, began to replace the simpler, plain glass jars.

Vintage biscuit tin.

A few years later, the Brush Pottery Company of Ohio produced the first cookie jars made of ceramic, a material which allowed the containers to be molded into a variety of shapes, such as fruits, vegetables, animals or comical figures. Suddenly people were collecting cookie jars, and several companies decided to encourage the craze by offering a seemingly endless array of designs — ushering in a “golden age” of American Cookie jar production, from 1940 until the early 1970s.

We have a beautiful “birdhouse” cookie jar on our kitchen counter — because we LOVE birds! — and we store our Pepperidge Farms Milano cookies inside it. We buy these delicious cookies to keep on hand in case any guests drop by unexpectedly; we want to always have a treat to serve to them with their coffee. So we don’t usually pilfer the cookie jar. In fact, we keep the bag of Milano cookies sealed until we need them. (We only eat them ourselves if they’re close to going out of date, after we’ve replaced them with a fresh pack.) We’re good like that!

Wish we could say the same were true for us when we were kids! Both of us were frequently “caught with our hand in the cookie jar”! Wilma’s mom had a Mother Goose cookie jar. Tom’s mother had a teddy bear cookie jar. Both jars were kept well stocked. Both jars were an endless source of red-faced shame: there’s something embarrassing about being caught standing tippy-toed on a kitchen chair with one hand fishing around inside the “brain” of a brown ceramic bear! BUSTED!

The phrase “caught with your hand in the cookie jar” means: to be discovered taking something you’re not entitled to. When it comes to cookies, there may be several reasons we’re not entitled to a cookie: we’re saving the cookies for guests; we’re dieting and don’t need a cookie; we’ve already had our fair share of cookies; it’s close to dinner and we’ll spoil our appetites! Phooey! When you’re a kid, none of this seems fair. We just want a cookie!

“Hand in the cookie jar” has another, informal meaning: to take advantage of one’s unique position by accepting favors. For instance, “That politician has his hand in the cookie jar!”

As believers, we have a unique position in Jesus Christ: we are the sons and daughters of God — His children — and we’re also the Lord’s ambassadors here on earth. And know what? In His “celestial kitchen,” our Heavenly Father has His own “cookie jar”! It’s shaped like a “lamb without spot or wrinkle,” and it’s called God’s abundant life and blessings. He keeps it well stocked, and we never have to fear being caught with our hand in the cookie jar, because His blessings are there especially for us — not just for special guests! Anyone can reach in and grab an “abundant life biscuit” or indulge in a “double stuff” blessing.

Our Heavenly Father is always generous with His cookie jar, and He wants us to help ourselves to as many cookies as we want. “[God] withholds no good thing from those who have integrity.” (Psalm 84:11 NET Bible) His supply of blessings never runs out, and besides, He trusts us to share whatever we receive — instead of acting like the Cookie Monster! “Blessed be the Lord, who daily loads us with benefits.” (Psalm 68:19 KJ 2000)

Cookies whenever we want one? Hey, our Heavenly Father is not just an “eat your vegetables” God. He wants us to enjoy our days, so He always keeps the cookie jar in easy reach, 24/7 — 365 days a year. So have ANOTHER cookie!

Jesus said, “…If you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.” (Matthew 7:11 NLT)